February 28, 2024

February 2024 Newsletter: What happened in Michigan?

Victories and momentum in WI, NY, PA, AZ, NC, and NH! News you can use! But the biggest story: Over 100,000 Michiganders vote “uncommitted” (instead of Joe Biden) in the Democratic primary. Here’s MVP’s strategic analysis of how this grassroots effort can (counter-intuitively) help Biden and Democrats win in November.
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MVP Friends,

What’s the antidote to election anxiety?

Stories from the states. We are winning – see below.

But first, the biggest story this week: Michigan. 

New York Times screenshot, February 28, 2024

On Tuesday, more than 100,000 Michiganders voted “uncommitted” instead of for Joe Biden, in protest against Biden’s approach to the war in Gaza and a call for a ceasefire. In densely Arab-American communities of Dearborn and Hamtramck over 50% voted uncommitted, along with 15-20% in college towns like Ann Arbor and East Lansing.

This is a flashing warning sign for Biden and Democrats in terms of foreign policy and also in relation to our base of young voters, Arab and Muslim voters, progressive voters, and voters of color. The war in Israel and Palestine has divided the Democratic base. MVP’s goal is to hold our family together to stop fascism and build a brighter future together. 

MVP is working closely with our partners to advance a strategy that engages and affirms the most disaffected Democratic-leaning voters — AND helps Biden and Democrats win in November. The sentiment we have heard consistently from uncommitted organizers is expressed well by Asma Mohammed from Minnesota: “We are against a Trump presidency, and we also want Biden to be better.” 

We support local progressive organizations, including those who organize protest votes in Democratic primaries. Primaries are a crucial opportunity for us to engage new and passionate voters and organizers (as Bernie and Warren did in 2020), and to transform anger and disillusionment into agency and action. And crucially, to express anger constructively, through Democratic primaries, not through third-party candidates like RFK Junior, or sitting it out in the general election.

This is a very nuanced needle to thread – and a critically necessary one. If we do this well, we can meet deeply frustrated voters where they’re at, and give a critical but constructive voice to their concerns. Then, if the Biden team is savvy enough to listen to and welcome those organizers and voters (as they did in 2020), it will actually help us win in the general election. 

There are a lot of things that are outside of Biden’s or our control, including the calculations of Netanyahu who arguably has a vested interest in continuing the war and seeing Biden lose. As people who desperately want to not live under fascist dictatorship, we are between a rock and a hard place. 

What to do? We need a two-step plan. Step one is advocacy. Step two is GOTV. Most Democratic pundits are missing the first step – which is where we are right now. We have to support the ceasefire movement to give Biden the political cover to say publicly and boldly what he believes privately: We need a ceasefire to stop the killing, free the hostages, bring humanitarian aid, and create the conditions for Palestinians and Israelis to live with safety and dignity. 

Remember: The idea of movements pushing presidents and giving them political cover is not new. In 1964, civil rights groups pushed President Johnson to pass the Civil Rights Act. In 2011, immigrant rights groups organizers publicly railed against President Obama, labeling him “Deporter-In-Chief.” In June 2012, Obama announced DACA. In November 2012, the youth vote turned out.

Fast-forward to 2024, and some Democratic operatives and pundits are already dismissing the importance of what happened in Michigan. Or worse yet, talking about writing off the youth vote and Arab and Muslim voters. Some Democratic analysts believe the new path to victory lies in doubling down on persuading more working-class and suburban (read: centrist white) Nikki Haley voters.

If we want to win this November, we need to go above and beyond what we have ever done before. We need to include the most marginalized communities of voters. We cannot take any voter for granted. Instead of giving up, we are doubling down on investing in young voters, Arab and Muslim voters, voters of color, and disaffected progressive voters. 

Deeper engagement, not abandonment of core Democratic constituencies, is our path to victory in the fall. We cannot and will not abandon these communities whose lives and communities matter and who are the base of a long-term progressive future in this country.

This is the core approach that we believe will be vital to winning in 2024. How do we do it? By investing in hundreds of local organizations that will train tens of thousands of canvassers – with five strategic lenses:

  1. Training on “Deep Canvassing,” empathetic listening, and meeting people where they are – making the real human connections that create an opening for angry or disaffected voters to re-engage rather than sit it out or support Trump or third parties.
  2. Training on Story of Self for canvassers to be trusted messengers, sharing their own powerfully authentic stories of why they are canvassing for Democrats, even with mixed emotions. This is the opposite of the usual, superficial b.s. partisan messaging pabulum. It works because it’s real.
  3. Making the election about Trump and MAGA fascism, by making side-by-side comparisons of Biden and Democrats vs. Trump and MAGA – on issues like abortion, climate, and the very real danger of fascism.
  4. Highlighting Biden’s accomplishments, and reminding people of the thousands of good things Biden has done – from the biggest climate investments in history to canceling $138 billion in student debt – and how MAGA has blocked him from doing even more. 
  5. Imagining a brighter 2025 with Democrats in power. We can secure voting rights, end gerrymandering, protect abortion rights, invest in climate solutions, support working families, appoint judges, and so much more. We can have nice things. But we have to fight for them.

Not every organization we fund is going to use all five of these strategies. Like good organizers, we are meeting both our donors and our local partners where they’re at, and having honest, generative, strategic conversations. MVP is deep in conversation with our many local and national partners about a strategy to BOTH make their voices heard in the primaries AND also to engage, persuade, and turn out angry and disillusioned voters in the general election.

This is going to require an unprecedented Apollo Project-level investment.

We need to invest in a hybrid of micro-targeting, tailored messaging, deep canvassing, and relational organizing, at a level of scale and sophistication that has never happened before. This is cutting-edge stuff. It is going to require that we invest deeper, earlier, and with more c4 and PAC “political” money than ever before. Please join us to hear more about this new strategy next week (RSVP). 

If you haven’t already, it is imperative for each of us to get involved in the biggest way we can imagine this election cycle, and to consider making the biggest investments we have ever made. Nothing less is required to secure progress toward our dreams and avoid our worst nightmares.

We should listen to Michigan – whether as a wake-up call, an inspiration, or a warning. It is a clarion call to join with each other in community – people of all ages, races, and backgrounds – to prevent fascism, work for peace and prosperity for all people, and join together in re-building beloved community.

With hope (and a multi-layered approach to strategy),

Billy Wimsatt, MVP Executive Director
(On behalf of the MVP team)

p.s. – Your investment through MVP is fueling so much progress and political momentum in key states as we head toward November. Read on for the updates.

 


In This Newsletter:

  • You Are Invited: NEXT WEEK – March 6th National Briefing
  • Donor Spotlight: “There’s literally no better place to invest”
  • Stories from the States: Fair Maps in WI, Victory in NY, and More
  • Worth a Read: News You Can Use
  • How to Do More Than Donate: Friends Tell Friends About MVP

 


 

NEXT WEEK: March 6th National Briefing

YOU ARE INVITED

2pm ET • 1pm CT • Noon MT • 11am PT

Next week, Trump will sweep “Super Tuesday”. Join us the day after to hear MVP’s plan to win — and elect a bold, Democratic Congress. 

This briefing will cover:

State of Play: Urgent threats + glimmers of hope

Strategy to Win: Path to a Blue Wave in November

Elephants in the Room: Burning questions like:

  • What do we do about low enthusiasm for Biden?
  • How do we use issues like abortion rights to galvanize voters?
  • How do we make sure frustrations with Biden among youth and voters of color — especially around Israel/Gaza — do not result in a second Trump term?How do we make sure our voters turn out to vote?

Register here »

 


 

“There’s literally no better place to invest”

DONOR SPOTLIGHT: JESS CRAVEN

Here is MVP’s philosophy in a nutshell: Lasting power and policy change come from investing in…

  • Communities, not just candidates;
  • People power, not just political parties; and
  • Trusted messengers on the ground, not just TV ads saturating the airwaves.

Someone who deeply gets this is Jess Craven, MVP donor and ambassador, and author of the political action blog, Chop Wood, Carry Water. (Note – If you’re looking for daily doses of hope and ways to take action, subscribe here.)

We asked her to share why she gives to MVP. Here’s what she said:

“Throwing money only at big left-leaning institutions—or even left-leaning candidates at the top of the ticket—simply doesn’t work. We must invest in long-term organizing happening in communities. Especially in these fraught and divided times, too, we need TRUSTED messengers, and those are never going to be strangers dropping into a district for one race. To me it’s really clear — there’s literally no better place to invest.”

Read the full interview »

 


Victories and Momentum in WI, NY, PA, AZ, NC, and NH

STORIES FROM THE STATES

Across the country, MVP local partners are organizing for victory up and down the ballot on November 5th — and for lasting policy change before and after.

Wisconsin Democracy Campaign leaders, joining Governor Tony Evers as he signs fair maps into law.

Wisconsin: R.I.P. Gerrymandering, Hello Fair Maps!

In Wisconsin, we are celebrating the long-awaited end to extreme partisan gerrymandering! 

Though not perfect, the legislative maps newly signed into law significantly level the playing field, lead to fairer representation, and create an opening for Democrats to win the state assembly in November and the state senate in 2026.

For years, groups like the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign have been educating voters, spurring civic participation, and building grassroots power around fair maps. This work, along with the efforts of MVP partners to flip the State Supreme Court to a 4-3 liberal majority in April 2023, set the stage for this victory.

Read more »

 


 

Make the Road New York, getting out the vote in the NY-03 special election

New York: We Won Back Santos’ House Seat!

In New York, the Working Families PartyBattleground NY, and Make the Road New York collectively knocked on over 110,000 doors and helped Democrats flip the red-trending U.S. House seat of expelled GOP Rep. George Santos. 

“This was only made possible through the support of generous donors such as MVP who understand how critical it is to move money early in the year.”

— Luke Hayes, Organizing Director of the New York Working Families Party

Read more »

 


 

New Pennsylvania Project digital voter outreach for the state House District 140 special election

Pennsylvania: State House Win, Momentum for November 

In Pennsylvania, Democrats won a special election in the 140th state House District, preserving a slim 102-100 majority. 

Many thanks to New Pennsylvania Project Education Fund for registering, calling, and canvassing voters in this under-the-radar election!

As a reminder that victory comes from sustaining this work for the long haul: It was only in 2022, after years of organizing, that MVP partners helped flip the PA State House for the first time since 2010 — by just 63 votes in a single seat.

Now, if Democrats can keep the state House in November, reclaim the state Senate, and defend the Governorship in 2026, they will gain a state trifecta for the first time since 1993. With Democratic governance, Pennsylvania could see a new era of progressive legislation like increasing the minimum wage, expanding voting access, strengthening gun safety, advancing equity in school funding, and more.

 


 

Arizona for Abortion Access, a ballot campaign to enshrine abortion rights in the AZ constitution

Arizona: 250,000 Signatures for Abortion Access

In Arizona, MVP partner Arizona for Abortion Access (AAA) has surpassed 250,000 signatures to put an amendment on the ballot this November to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution. 

If they collect 383,923 signatures by July 3, they will qualify for the November ballot. MVP’s Arizona partners are eager to campaign on abortion rights this fall and to use this ballot measure to galvanize Democratic voters to tip the state’s Presidential, U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and down-ballot races.

 


 

Workers Vote canvassing in North Carolina for pro-labor Democrat Rodney Pierce

North Carolina: Knocking Doors for a Pro-Labor Champion

In North Carolina, MVP partner Workers Vote is knocking on 17,000 doors in State House District 27 to replace a conservative Democrat with a champion of abortion rights and workers’ rights.

Michael Wray, the conservative Democrat representing District 27, voted with Republicans 84% of the time in 2023, including for bills to fund anti-abortion groups and enact damaging tax cuts. Workers Vote is mobilizing voters in support of his opponent, Rodney Pierce, a champion of workers’ rights and abortion rights. 

Electing Pierce in this majority African-American district will bring us closer to stopping harmful GOP bills at the state level — while building momentum to win the state’s sixteen Electoral College votes and Governor’s race in November.

For more on MVP’s North Carolina 2024 strategy, watch our October briefing »

 


 

603 Forward, an MVP partner building the next generation of progressive political leadership in NH

New Hampshire: Building the Bench from the Bottom Up

In New Hampshire, 603 Forward and Granite State Organizing Project (GSOP) are organizing around “Town Meeting Day” on March 12, where voters cast ballots for town resolutions, school boards, election administrators, and other local offices.

The youth-driven 603 Forward has been recruiting local candidates for two months and is now deploying their get-out-the-vote (GOTV) program with MVP funding. This work is critical for advancing progressive policies locally, stopping conservative policies (especially on school boards), and ensuring election integrity in November.

While New Hampshire has swung blue in recent federal elections, it is still a purple state we cannot take for granted (or, should we say, for granite?). Besides securing the state’s Electoral College votes this November, our partners need early investment to help Democrats flip the Governorship and the state House — and gear up to defend U.S. Senator Shaheen’s vulnerable and crucial seat in 2026.

 


 

New York Times, February 25, 2024

News You Can Use

WORTH A READ

In a media environment filled with noise, here are a few pieces our team has enjoyed lately:

 


Friends Tell Friends About MVP

HOW TO DO MORE THAN DONATE

From the Bay Area to Washington State, from Chicago to Massachusetts, MVP volunteers are building a movement of donors on a scale that can transform political philanthropy… and we want you to be a part of it.

In an election that will determine the trajectory of our climate, reproductive freedoms, and U.S. democracy itself, there is nothing more satisfying than helping those around you turn despair into grounded hope and anxiety into strategic action.

Ready to be part of the reason MVP goes viral? Here’s what to do next:

  1. Host an MVP event: Start small by getting a few people together to talk about MVP, or go bigger by throwing an MVP House Party / Zoom Party to raise funds for MVP! Get started »
  2. Attend an event and invite your network: Besides our national briefing on March 6, there are two special, volunteer-led events coming up:
    • On March 3, Legal Community for Democracy is holding a virtual kickoff event for legal professionals in support of MVP. RSVP »
    • On March 27, Healthcare Leaders for Democracy is holding a virtual fundraising event for healthcare professionals and anyone else who wants to support MVP as a way to advance U.S. healthcare equity. RSVP »

OK team, we can do this- let’s keep calm, carry on, and make our greatest investment ever in a Blue Wave this November. Spread the word!

With gratitude,

Billy (and the whole MVP team)

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