We only have days until election day.
To elect Beto, we are organizing the largest Get Out The Vote (GOTV) campaign in Texas history.
It’s going to take more than showing up on Election Day to knock on a few doors or make a few calls to pull off the kind of historic volunteer and voter mobilization we need to win.
It’s going to take real, determined, disciplined leadership by thousands of volunteers taking on mission-critical responsibilities in the final weeks of the election.
In this plan, we’re going to ask you to commit to being organizers and trainers all the way up to Election Day. We’re counting on you to help us manage the massive flood of first-time volunteers who will soon join our campaign. But first, we need to explain our plan to win.
In most campaigns, what follows would be a tightly held secret usually only shared with staff. But we need volunteers to take on key roles in executing our campaign strategy – so we’re sharing our Get Out The Vote (GOTV) strategy in full detail.
Before we get to how we’re going to win, let’s talk about why some people think we don’t have a shot at winning. It starts with a bit of history.
The last Democratic presidential candidate to win Texas was Jimmy Carter in 1976.
The last time a Democrat won statewide in Texas was 1994. Texas has gone longer than any other state without electing a Democrat statewide.
In 2002, Republicans took over the legislature.
In 2008 and 2012, President Obama lost Texas by double-digit margins.
In 2014, Greg Abbott won the governorship by a massive 20 point margin.
And in 2016, Donald Trump won Texas by 9 points.
So the skeptics’ argument is simple: In a normal year, under normal circumstances, a normal Democratic candidate doesn’t normally win.
But this isn’t a normal year.
First, Donald Trump is the president.
The 2016 election was a shock to millions of us.
But in the weeks and months that followed Trump’s election, the shock wore off and people got organized.
Millions of people – many of whom had never been involved in politics before – decided that they couldn’t sit on the sidelines. They marched and they protested by the millions. They registered to vote. They knocked on doors, they made phone calls, they sent text messages. They talked to friends, family, neighbors, and strangers in public places about the issues. And they voted.
In Virginia, Democrats surged to victory up and down the ballot.
Alabama, a state that Trump won by nearly 28 points, elected its first Democratic senator since 1997.
In elections up and down the ballot, from congressional seats to city council seats, in red states, in blue states, and in purple states, we’ve seen the same thing: Democratic voters surging to the polls in often-historic numbers.
So, first, Donald Trump is president. Second, Texas is changing.
It’s true that Donald Trump won Texas by 9 points – that’s a lot in a state as big as Texas.
But, in 2012, President Obama lost Texas by almost 16 points. The Republican margin of victory in Texas narrowed by close to 7 points in four years. That’s huge.
This shift in Texas’ politics is being driven by people moving to Texas from all over the country, in particular to a handful of massive urban counties where the majority of the state’s population lives.
And it’s being driven by demographic change. Millennials are the most diverse, most progressive generation in American history – and they make up a larger share of Texas’ electorate than they ever have before.
Donald Trump is president. Texas is changing. And the third thing that makes this year different is Beto.
We’re working to elect Beto because we believe in his message, his platform, and his principles.
But that’s not the only thing that makes him a more competitive candidate. He’s also running a different kind of campaign. We believe in him, and he believes in us.
He’s raising money in a different way. Instead of relying on PACs and special interests, he’s raising money from small-dollar donors a few bucks at a time.
Far from being a disadvantage, taking a stand on principle by not taking money from the broken political system has allowed us to outraise our opponent. By a lot. In five straight FEC periods.
Instead of hiring consultants and pollsters to tell him what to believe, what to say, who to say it to, and when to say it, Beto is doing something totally different: He’s traveling across the state listening to people.
He’s been to every one of Texas’ 254 counties. And it turns out that when you treat people with dignity and respect – when you listen to them and try to understand their lives – a lot of them decide to get behind you. To join you.
And that changes what kind of campaign we can run. It’s not just that people want to vote for Beto – they want to get to work to help elect him.
Thousands of people all across the state have already volunteered, and new people are pouring into the campaign every day.
In many cases, volunteers are putting their normal lives on hold and making real, measurable sacrifices to help Beto win. They’re spending time away from loved ones, setting aside pastimes and passions, taking off from work and giving every free hour to volunteering.
That army of volunteers is a key part of our strategy: Most of the important work on our campaign will be done by volunteers.
To recap, we are living in a unique political moment – both nationally and in Texas – and we have a unique candidate who has inspired thousands of people to volunteer. So, what do we have to do to win?
Very simply, we have to get more people to vote. We have to increase voter turnout. And we can’t risk falling short.
Let’s unpack this:
There’s a common misconception that elections are mostly decided by so-called “swing voters” – voters who can be persuaded to vote for one candidate or the other – and that campaigns should focus all of their energy on people who make up their mind in the final weeks of an election.
We hear this argument a lot in Texas. You’ve probably heard it from someone you know or from some skeptical media pundit: “Sure, people are excited about Beto, but there just aren’t enough swing voters in Texas for him to win.”
But, if you do the math, it turns out that’s not true.
The truth is that Texas is not a red state. It’s a non-voting state. The key to winning this election is increasing voter turnout. Getting people off the sidelines, engaged, and in the game.
Now that definitely doesn’t mean writing anyone off – Beto is running to represent all Texans, and is making his case to everyone – but it means that, as volunteers, we have to focus our energy and resources responsibly.
Consider some recent election results:
In 2016, Donald Trump won Texas by a 9 point margin. Just under 60 percent of registered voters went to the polls. Only 31 percent of registered Texas voters voted for Trump.
And the situation is even worse in midterm elections like the one that’s about to happen in Texas. The one we absolutely have to win.
In 2014, Greg Abbott won by a 20 point landslide. Less than 32 percent of registered voters went to the polls. Less than 20 percent of registered Texas voters voted for Abbott.
This represents a major opportunity.
The truth is that most people aren’t trying to decide which party to vote for – they’re deciding whether to vote at all.
So if we can figure out who those likely non-voters are, and find some way to get them to the polls, we’ll be able to win.
We have a plan to do just that: Organize more volunteers to knock on more doors, make more phone calls, send more text messages, and talk to more voters than any campaign in the history of Texas.
It might not be rocket science – but it is what science says is the most effective way to increase voter turnout.
Political scientists do experiments where they split voters into two randomized groups, a control group that they leave alone and a treatment group that they test a voter turnout tactic on. And after the election they check to see whether the treatment group voted at a higher rate than the control group.
We’ve learned three things from these experiments:
There is nothing more powerful than person to person conversations between well-trained volunteers and voters at increasing voter turnout. You all have more power to increase voter turnout than anything campaigns can pay for.
The kind of conversation you have matters. If we just tell someone to vote, it doesn’t make them a lot more likely to vote. As Beto always says, we have to give them a reason to vote. And as he also says, that starts by telling them why this election is so important to you, your community, and our state.
The key is making people realize that their vote not only has an impact, but their decision not to vote could impact our state and country for decades to come. The fact that they can’t risk sitting this one out.
We’ve learned that timing matters. Conversations we have with voters only make them more likely to vote starting about two weeks before Early Vote. Early Vote started October 22, so we’re currently in the final sprint of the campaign when our person-to-person conversations matter the most. We must treat every day like it’s election day now.
Since the beginning of the year, Beto supporters have talked to hundreds of thousands of voters across the state, asked them who they plan to vote for, and collected complete contact information for Beto supporters in order to prepare for this final sprint at the end.
This is what we called the “voter ID” phase of the campaign. The goal was to build a massive list of Beto supporters who, without a nudge in the final weeks, might not vote – but who we could count on to vote for Beto if we got them to the polls. And that might be enough to put Beto over the top.
In the course of having these voter ID conversations, we collected complete contact information – phone number, email address and street address – so that we have multiple ways to follow up with our supporters during GOTV.
We’ve wrapped up the voter ID phase of the campaign and now we’re following up with people who have already told us they support Beto. Our entire organizing program – over a year of work – all comes down to what we do now during GOTV. It’s make or break.
Beto is running to represent all Texans. His job is to make his case directly to Texas voters and win over support from everyone that he can.
As volunteers, we also have an important role to play: Making sure the people who support Beto get timely and accurate information about when and how to vote, and then reminding them to go to the polls during Early Vote and on Election Day.
In 2010, Rick Perry won by 631,086 votes. In 2014, Greg Abbott won by 957,973 votes. Adjusting for growth in the number of registered voters, we think we need to turn out about a million more Democratic voters than in a “normal” midterm election in order to win.
There are over 5.5 million voters who we believe are very likely to vote for Beto if they vote but who might not vote unless we contact them. Ideally, we want to contact them to make sure they do. That’s part of how we plan to get a million more voters to the polls than in a normal year.
We call this list of voters who we think support Beto but might not vote if we don’t talk to them our “GOTV universe” – that just means a list of people who we want to follow up with to turn them out to the polls.
We’ll be fine tuning that universe up until the very end, so the numbers will change. Here’s what it’s going to take to reach out to those 5.5 million voters:
The Texas Democratic Party gives candidates access to a database of voter records. That database currently contains 3.5 million cell phone numbers and about 3.2 million landline phone numbers associated with the roughly 5.5 million voters on our initial GOTV list. So, if each texting volunteer sends 500 texts per volunteer shift and each calling volunteer calls for two straight hours per shift, we’d need to fill about 7,000 texting shifts and 11,250 calling shifts to call and text everyone once.
We’re pretty sure we have enough volunteers to do a lot more than that. We’ve already called and texted millions of voters across the state, and, while it’s going to take a ton of work, we’re feeling confident that we can do it again. We’ll need to.
But the research on voter turnout tells us that face-to-face conversations at a voter’s door are more powerful than any other tactic, so, if we want to maximize Beto’s chances of winning, we need to knock on as many of those 5.5 million voters’ doors as possible.
Those 5.5 million people live in about 3.6 million households. Knocking on 3.6 million doors means recruiting volunteers to complete 72,000 50 door canvassing shifts.
Our GOTV goals might sound kind of daunting. They are. But we know it’s possible if absolutely everyone who wants to help Beto win pitches in-- and if our volunteers are taking on mission critical roles. So during GOTV, we’re providing three resources to make sure we’re communicating our campaign priorities and most urgent needs clearly and effectively with the entire team:
Leading into GOTV, we knew we wanted to make sure we had the resources in place to ensure that we wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the huge amount of incoming volunteers we anticipated we might have at the end. As expected, there has been way more people volunteering during Early Vote than our staff would’ve been able to train or direct on their own. So to train the thousands of first time volunteers who we knew would pour into the campaign during this final sprint, we’ve opened hundreds of pop-up offices across our state! A pop-up office is a temporary campaign office that operates for the final two to four weeks of the election. There’s likely one near you!
Click here to find a pop-up office near you.
What’s so special about our GOTV map is that anyone can see which precincts are our highest priorities and the percentage of doors that still need to be knocked in each precinct. This means everyone will know exactly which neighborhoods need the most urgent support-- in real-time. Volunteers can directly RSVP to one of the thousands of events we have on that map or drop by one of our hundreds of offices across the state. Win.betofortexas.com makes it really easy for anyone to join our team, figure out where we need people the most, and explains why we need everyone who wants to help Beto to pitch in.
How to use the map
Find the priority precincts
Find the nearest Beto pop-up office
If the nearest office is too far away or if there isn’t an event happening soon enough, we need you to knock doors on your own or with your friends! This is absolutely the most important thing you can do right now -- and it’s super simple. Sign up to knock doors for Beto here and join a webinar training on Block Walking 101.
Sharing the map is only part of the strategy. We need all of our volunteers to be clued into key campaign updates and urgent needs. That’s why we’re hosting nightly conference calls with all of our volunteers every day until November 5th.
The final GOTV sprint is shaping up to be chaotic and all of us need to be really flexible to contact all the voters we need to contact across the state. The goal of our nightly GOTV conference calls is to make sure we’re all on the same page, so sign up now and you’ll receive reminder emails with call-in instructions. Then, sign up for daily GOTV email updates as well, so you can receive the notes from each of our nightly calls the following morning.
That’s the plan to win. Here’s more about what you can do to help.
This is going to take all of us. It’s going to take everything we’ve got. And it’s going to be how we win this election at a time when we really don’t have any other choice. Thanks for being a part of something so important, so necessary for Texas and this country.