Today, Democracy in Color, launched a new report and campaign entitled “Return of the Majority: A Roadmap for Taking Back Our Country.” The efforts seeks to redirect the Democratic Party’s focus toward strategic investments in communities of color and among progressive whites to help re-establish Democratic primacy in critical elected offices across the nation. In the last election, the Democratic Party only spent 2% of its budget with people of color. Further, it disproportionately focused financial resources on national television ads instead of investing in local, grassroots organizations with a proven track record of registering and mobilizing new voters.
Democracy in Color, an organization founded by best-selling author and social justice advocate Steve Phillips, is calling on “Democrats and progressives nationwide to spend $1 billion over the next four years focusing on mobilizing 10 million new voters – people of color and progressive whites – in the 17 closest battleground states of 2016,” according to a press release detailing the effort’s launch.
“Return of the Majority highlights data that clearly shows the key to Democratic victories in Congress and the White House is in investing in communities of color who were key to Obama’s reelection, as well as registering newly eligible New American Majority voters,” said Phillips. “It’s about spending less on TV ads and more on hiring on-the-ground organizers, especially in the 17 Frontline States we have identified.”
According to Phillips, Democrats are facing a crisis of strategy and operations. “For too long,” he contended, “Democratic spending has been driven by a flawed strategy that overemphasizes tv ads and tries to target, persuade, and change the minds of white voters.” For more effective results, #ReturnoftheMajority advances a data driven, empirically sound plan to swing momentum back in favor of the Democratic Party.
Targeting 17 states – Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin – this effort encourages donors to reallocate their resources to on the ground organizations doing the work of direct voter contact. Among the 18 “Frontline Freedom Fighters” initially identified by Democracy in Color are New Georgia Project, which registered 200,000 new Black voters in this past election cycle, One Arizona, which registered 150,000 new Latino voters in 16 weeks in 2016, Blueprint North Carolina, and the Texas Organizing Project.
The #ReturnoftheMajority advocates a civic web approach, which calls for strategic investments in on the ground staff, volunteers, and community block captain to the tune of $40-$50 per new voter. Using this model, an investment of just $500 million could yield 10 million new voters in key states.
“Clearly what was done is 2016 did not work,” said Phillips, noting that the lack of diverse spend – both in advertising and in direct grassroots mobilizing – coupled with a lack of accountability, transparency, and evidence-based spending have provided Democrats and progressives an opportunity to “see the consequences of that failure every day now.”
Failure to adapt to changing times and adopt a more dynamic on the ground strategy would likely lead Democrats and progressives to a permanent political underclass. As demographics continue to shift, however, we can realize a return of the majority through more strategic efforts to engage and mobilize voters of color and progressive whites.