We Need a Welcome Party Now (again)
Our democracy and the Democratic majority were fragile in 2019, and still are. Let's act like it.
One year ago today, on the eve of the New Hampshire presidential primary, our team of two dozen fellows were making a last round of outreach to Independent voters out of our Manchester office (and, in far more comfortable temperatures, out of our Columbia, SC office).
Our goal was to increase Independent turnout, and in the process demonstrate that Democrats are a Big-Tent Party.
We were motivated by two concerns: the fragility of our democracy, and the narrow path to Democratic Party control that too many on the left and in the media seemed eager to ignore. We wanted to do our part to widen that path, increasing both democratic participation and the chances of Democratic success.
Sometimes it’s fun to say “I told you so.” But this is too important - and scary.
We wish we were wrong: that our democracy was stronger, and that a Democratic landslide was guaranteed despite a primary process focused on ever-escalating progressive dreams.
But by the Fall of 2019, the data was clear. And now in February 2021, it is even more obvious that our democracy is in trouble and the Democratic Party is vulnerable to mistaken narratives, insular bubbles, and ambitious risk-takers.
That is why we are re-launching The Welcome Party.
In the coming months, we will be conducting an open-sourced “pre-mortem” of the 2022 election, and we want to hear from you on what should be included (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In the meantime, below is our first ever email blast from November 7, 2019 laying out why we were worried, and how we could do something about it. Let’s do it again.
November 7, 2019
On this day last year, America woke up to a landslide - Democrats had taken the House by winning over voters who had voted Republican in past elections.
An analysis by the data scientists at Catalist showed that 89% of the difference between 2016 and 2018 was persuading voters to switch (the remaining 11% was due to differences in voter turnout). Democratic congressional candidates stuck to core issues, engaged to a broad set of voters, and won seats in purple districts.
Now that we are one year away from the presidential election, Democrats have … basically ignored these lessons. And many are rightfully freaking out.
A poll released Monday by the New York Times showed that Donald Trump could win all six swing states that made the difference in 2016. This shouldn’t be all that surprising to anyone following the presidential campaign - or following the data indicating what it is doing to swing voters:
Pew Research shows Democratic Party favorability has dropped 18 points, from +11 to -7
MIT Election Lab study showed independent voters are 7 points less likely to support Democrats just by reading a single article about the issues discussed during a presidential debate
2 of every 3 voters who changed from red to blue in 2018 have indicated they plan to switch back to voting Republican, according to the recent NYT/Siena poll
Everyone is talking about these voters, but no one is talking with them. That makes sense - they are relatively unlikely to vote in the Democratic presidential primary, which makes communicating with them a low-ROI investment to campaigns and interest groups. Yet when you aggregate all this communication, you get a tremendous inefficiency.
The Welcome Party is filling that gap, by engaging less ideological, partisan voters and conducting research showing why a big-tent Democratic Party is both reality and necessity.