Why “Save the Senate” with CREDO SuperPAC
Presently, Democrats control the Senate with a 55 to 45 majority. Republicans need only a net gain of six seats to take the majority away, making Senator Mitch McConnell leader. On Election Day, 36 senators face election, and 21 of them are Democrats. Eight of these races are highly competitive — six currently held Democratic seats and two currently held Republican seats. Republicans must pick up a net gain of six of these races to take over the majority — a goal that is well within their reach.
CREDO SuperPAC has identified 5 key states where grassroots mobilization can make the difference and hold the line against a Tea Party Republican takeover. Building on the model of our successful 2012 campaign where CREDO SuperPAC defeated 5 extreme Tea Party House incumbents, in 2014 we are building local, volunteer-based voter outreach efforts in 5 states to defeat Tea Party Republicans Mitch McConnell, Cory Gardner, Terri Lynn Land, Thom Tillis and David Perdue.
Saving the Senate is the top priority for progressives in 2014. The current Democrat-controlled Senate acts as a firewall for the extremist and at times downright crazy legislation coming out of the Tea Party-controlled House. It is also responsible for the confirmation of White House executive and judicial nominees. During the final two years of the Obama presidency, we must ensure that the president is able to fill the record number of federal judiciary openings, protect his EPA’s new carbon rule from overturn by the Congressional Review Act, and protect the Affordable Care Act from attacks on women’s health.
A perhaps graver threat — described in detail by The Washington Post this June — is the overwhelming likelihood that, should Republicans win the Senate, President Obama will be impeached by the House. The Tea Party-controlled House has not yet impeached the President (which would then trigger a trial in the Senate) because they do not have enough votes in the Senate for conviction. But with a Republican-led Senate to conduct the trial of President Obama, impeachment even without the two-thirds vote necessary to remove him from office, would halt his agenda and come to define the legacy of his historic presidency.
Holding the Senate is also important to block the White House from compromising with Republicans on key progressive priorities. Senate Democrats led by Majority Leader Harry Reid have proven that when supported by the grassroots they are capable of going toe-to-toe with a White House that has sought to negotiate deals with Republicans on key issues like cutting Social Security benefits, raising the Medicare retirement age, and eviscerating environmental, labor and free speech protections with the Trans Pacific Partnership treaty.
CREDO SuperPAC strategy
The CREDO SuperPAC strategy is unique among political committees and designed to be several times more effective than most alternatives at its goal – defeating Republican candidates for federal office. If we fully fund our effort and execute effectively, we will make a substantial contribution to saving the Senate from Republican takeover.
The core of our plan is to build a field operation, staffed by experienced organizers, that absorbs and magnifies thousands of volunteers to make personal contacts with voters at front doors, on porches and over the phone.
This is the strategy used by the Obama campaign so successfully in 2008 and 2012 at the presidential level but too rarely executed at scale in Congressional and Senate races. In fact, many OFA volunteers in key Senate states are just waiting to be plugged into voter contact operations, but Democratic Senate candidates are not providing them with the staffing, support or motivation to start door-to-door outreach. While candidate-driven field efforts may begin in earnest after Labor Day, staff need to be in the field all summer long recruiting and training volunteers to build a truly effective volunteer voter contact operation.
If efforts like CREDO SuperPAC are not scaled up quickly, Senate campaigns will hinge largely on spending on negative television advertising and paid canvasses. This is despite an increasing body of social science research showing that that the method by which a message is delivered to a voter has a higher impact on turnout than the content of the message itself, and the effectiveness of the vehicle for contacting a voter is directly related to the extent to which it is personal — meaning delivered by an actual person. The gold standard as determined by research by political scientists such as Donald Green and Alan Gerber, political scientists at Columbia and Yale, respectively, is a volunteer-voter conversation in person at the doorstep.
Volunteer-voter conversations on the phone, via local phone banks, are also proven to be highly effective at moving voters who might not cast a ballot without mobilization to the on Election Day.
In 2012, CREDO SuperPAC used these techniques to knock on over 120,000 doors and make over 1,000,000 phone calls using passionate local volunteers in ten races targeting vulnerable Tea Party Republican incumbents in the House. In the majority of those races, our independent expenditure volunteer field campaigns operated at the same or greater scale than the volunteer field operations of the Democratic challenger. In five of our 2012 targeted Congressional Districts — Allen West (FL-18), Joe Walsh (IL-8), Frank Guinta (NH-1), Chip Cravaack (MN-8) and Dan Lungren (CA-7) — we helped defeat the Republican incumbent. Drilling down, our door and phone mobilization efforts exceeded the contacts represented by the margin of victory in three of our five victories — Allen West (FL-18), Frank Guinta (NH-1), and Dan Lungren (CA-7).
In close races, an independent expenditure campaign with even a modest budget if spent on volunteer field can help make up the margin of victory at a low cost per voter mobilized.
Building on our successes in 2012, CREDO SuperPAC’s volunteers in 2014 will be focused on educating and turning out progressive base voters — particularly women voters — who are not likely to vote without being educated or mobilized by an on-the-ground effort. Voter turnout is much higher in presidential election years than it is in mid-term elections. And the voters who tend to drop off are largely from constituencies who tend to vote Democratic. Without significant mobilization efforts, we can expect to see 20-30 percent drop-off in progressive base voters in 2014 that could range from 25% in Kentucky to nearly 40% in North Carolina. And for some key demographics, the numbers are even worse with pollsters predicting for example that only one in three unmarried women voters who cast a ballot in 2012 may go to the polls in 2014 unless mobilized by a campaign like CREDO SuperPAC.
Who is CREDO SuperPAC
The CREDO SuperPAC was created by CREDO Mobile as part of its commitment to achieving progressive social change. CREDO brings to this effort the skills and passion of an email list of 3.5 million online activists (who are veterans of many of the highest-profile advocacy campaigns of the last decade) and one of the nation’s most nimble, experienced, and hard-hitting organizing teams.
In 2012, CREDO SuperPAC ran the Take Down the Tea Party Ten campaign, a Congressional-scale volunteer field organizing campaigns in 10 target House districts. CREDO SuperPAC helped defeat five Republican incumbents including the now former Congressmen Allen West (FL-18), Joe Walsh (IL-8), Frank Guinta (NH-1), Chip Cravaack (MN-8) and Dan Lungren (CA-7).
CREDO Mobile, previously known as Working Assets, has more than two decades of experience as the nation’s only progressive phone company and has raised more than $76 million for social change since its founding in 1985. CREDO Action boasts the nation’s second largest list of online to online progressive activists, and this list has been highly active in anti-Tea Party fights.
CREDO SuperPAC’s senior advisor Michael Kieschnick is the CEO of CREDO Mobile, and CREDO SuperPAC President Becky Bond is CREDO’s political director and leader of CREDO Action.
CREDO SuperPAC has hired Ken Sanguin, a veteran of Senate, Congressional, independent expenditure and presidential field campaigns (including Senators Paul Wellstone and Amy Klobuchar, presidential candidate Howard Dean, and Americans Coming Together) as campaign manager of the Save the Senate campaign.
Wellstone Corps is a program of Progressive Campaign Leadership, an affiliate of Wellstone Action. Wellstone Corps was created to recruit, train, motivate and manage the field staff of progressive campaigns and CREDO SuperPAC is its founding client. This innovative pilot is a new model for building the farm team of progressive field staff and organizers by providing excellent training, management, and benefits as well as career counseling and job placement to help turn today’s field organizers into tomorrow’s movement leaders.