Our campaign in Richmond is a model for successful progressive voter engagement in this time of unbounded corporate spending in our elections. We were able to win across the board while being outspent 20-1 by Chevron, by:
- Building our volunteer membership network throughout the city.
- Developing relationships with voters and educating voters early about the amount of corporate money that would try to influence the election.
- Focusing on strong coalition building.
- Implementing a disciplined field, phone and online program deeply in touch with the messaging most resonating with voters
What was at Stake: In a majority-people of color city with a population of 107,000, local elected officials have made the town a national beacon for innovative progressive public policy. From suing Chevron for their Refinery fire and taking on Wall Street banks to save homes from foreclosure, to raising the Minimum Wage and passing local laws protecting the rights of immigrants, Richmond has been standing up for working families. Chevron, Wall Street and other corporate interests have not been happy. Chevron spent more than $3 million to support their own slate of candidates and to try to buy the election.
Voter Engagement: We focused heavily on in person, face-to-face contact with voters, particularly in Richmond’s poor and working class communities of color and the city’s API community. We knocked on 10,316 doors, many of them several times and spoke to 1,915 targeted voters. We identified 1,122 supporters, nearly 80% signed pledge forms of suport, giving us new contact information! Then in the final days before the election, we returned to all of these target voters to turn them out to the polls, giving rides to and turning out hundreds of voters on election day.
Media and New Media: On top of our field program, we ran a targeted social media campaign to reach Richmond voters. Using sophisticated targetting on Facebook, we reached 25,866 registered Richmond voters in the 5 days leading up to the election. This generated 1,716 engagements – likes, shares, and comments – which helped spark an online conversation about community backed candidates.
Our work was covered both in national and local media outlets.
- The Rachel Maddow Show, MSNBC 10/27/14
- New community political group forms to take on Chevron in Richmond By Jennifer Baires, Contra Costa Times 10/23/14
- Richmond residents and activists rally against Chevron campaign committee Moving Forward By Loi Almeron, Richmond Confidential 10/23/14
Coalition Building: ACCE Action and our allies APEN Action and SEIU 1021 formed the Richmond Working Families committee. Our groups have made the decision to continue working together in this formation and continue to build the power of Richmond’s working class communities and voters of color.
Outcomes: The entire 5-member progressive slate supported by Richmond Working Families (ACCE Action, APEN Action, SEIU 1021), and by the Richmond Progressive Alliance, swept into office. When the ballots were counted, our slate of candidates won by just over 800 votes.