You want to help with getting Hillary elected President. Let's start with that. Yes, there are downticket races and they're crucially important: but no one of them, win or lose, will cue the Seven Angelic Trumpeters. (Christian humor. You don’t have to get it: “No one of them, win or lose, will put the nuclear codes in Donald Trump's hands.”)
So we're going to skip talking about anything except Hillary, to start.
There are, more or less, three pieces of this.
1. Convince people to vote for Hillary.
You're probably doing this already; it's what social media is for. And while it's useful and may be more important than paid media in terms of moving the undecided, any one person's efforts are not going to be a large multiplier. That is to say, it's great that you're arguing with people, encouraging people, supporting them in getting to where they need to be (and where we need them to be.)
So keep it up. I'm going to. But it's the smallest and easiest part of what you could be doing.
2. Register people to vote for Hillary.
Money helps here. If you have some, consider donating. If you don’t have money, but do have time, consider donating that – links on how to get in touch with people who will take your time and/or money are below.
Are you registered? Do you know people who aren't registered? Have you asked? Here's where pragmatic politics gets going: while it's important to register people, and every single local Democratic organization will be thrilled to hear from you when you volunteer to help with registration or whatever they may need, there's only about nine states where it matters in terms of getting Hillary elected. (It matters hugely in downticket races, no matter where you are; we'll come back to that in another post.)
Those nine states are what are traditionally called “swing states,” though I like Nate Silver's description of them as “tipping point” states: states that are likeliest to tip an election to one party or another. A bit more about them here:
The top nine are:
Florida – 17% chance of tipping the election
North Carolina 6.6%
At this moment – good news! – Hillary's leading in all of them except North Carolina, according to 538's weighted averages. And she's only down there by 3/10ths of a percent. (In order, Dems are +1.1 in Florida; +3.2 in Pennsylvania; +.7 in Ohio; +3.4 in Virginia; -.3 in North Carolina; +6.3 in Michigan; +4.3 in Colorado; +4.3 in Minnesota; +6 in Minnesota; +6 in Wisconsin.)
There are a few other states that might come into play, though we're increasingly in territory where if they flip from their historical voting patterns (Arizona, Georgia, New Jersey) … the election is likely to be a massive wave. If Donald Trump takes New Jersey, he's already taken most of the tipping point states listed above. If Hillary takes Arizona or Georgia, we're in the midst of a wave election where Dems are likely to retake both the Senate and the gerrymandered House.
So here's where, in the next ~100 days, we need to register people: Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Michigan, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin.
This isn't news. People are on the ground in all those places, and have been since the last Presidential election cycle, registering people to vote, and while they'll be thrilled to have your help, be aware they've been at this a long time; they want help, not leadership on short notice. They'll give you marching orders: follow them.
Their websites are fairly horrible, in many cases. I'll post phone numbers separately in a comment. But start with the websites:
For Florida, you can sign up here:
For Pennsylvania, here:
North Carolina Democratic Party:
And finally, Wisconsin:
Are you in one of these states? Can you get to one of these states? Go volunteer to help register people.
You may not end up helping register people. The odds are fair that whomever you contact will be a professional – certainly more professional than you, if you're new at this. There are cases where you'll end up dealing with someone else's amateur hour moment; cut them a little slack and let them learn along with you. At the volunteer level there are a lot of amateurs; be gracious if you catch one. But more likely they’ll know what they’re doing.
If you contact one of these state orgs, and they suggest some other task for you, pitch in. The odds are good that they know their needs better than you do – and if they don't, well, after a while you'll know that, though it may not happen in the next 100 days.
Consider staying around after the election's over. I had five children when I dropped out of active politicking; life happens. They’re growing up; I’m getting back in, as that happens. You know your own circumstances and the time you can really spare.
But whatever that time is, please: devote it in this election cycle. This is the one with Donald Trump in it.
You can do something at a personal level. There's no better incentive to register than being approached by someone who loves you and being asked to please do the right thing this time. Maybe you don't live in any of the swing states above: but the odds are good you have friends or family in at least one of them. It's up to you what level of outreach you feel comfortable with – but I will say this:
Non-Hispanic whites vote at rates between 40% and 60%, depending on whether it's an off-year or Presidential election. It's nothing to be proud of. Non-Hispanic blacks essentially mirror that; in 2008 and 2012 they came out at rates beating that of non-Hispanic whites. In any event they're a politically mobilized community and know to vote.
Hispanics have never broken 50% in an American Presidential election cycle. Are you Hispanic? The reason Donald Trump thinks it's safe to threaten you is that you don't have the political power you should, to go along with the number of you who are citizens. Go register, if you're not, get your family and friends to register, go register others in your community, and then –
3. Get to the polls on Election Day.
I'll have a lengthy piece about getting out the vote, coming up, and a few more besides, on downticket races.