National Election Priorities & Tools

Take Action to Retake the US Senate & White House

2016: We Need to Turn This Blue

Clearly, Retake does not have a significant national reach and so we need to partner with other national organizations. Marjorie Luckey of Taos United did a tremendous job of assembling information on and Vote Forward to reach voters in 12 battleground states and to flippable 8 Senate seats. 

While we encourage you, as an individual, to participate in the national election, we feel your activity could be magnified many times over, if you review the states identified below as swing states or key senate races. Consider if you have friends in any of these states and if you do, we ask you consider adopting our fourth campaign strategy: organizing a team using Zoom to do so. At this “Forming an Election Action Team” link, we provide a very clear guide for how you can schedule and organize a Zoom meeting with friends and family. We feel strongly that by doing this, you can quite possibly engage a number of other folks in a key state and that if you are able to motivate them to get involved, they may well engage many, many more voters in that state.

Key Senate Races

As we all know, there are 100 US Senators. The current mix is 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and two independents (who caucus with the Dems). In order to win control of the Senate, the Dems will need to add four additional seats. Since it is very likely that one of the current Democratic Senators (Doug Jones of Alabama) will lose this year, that means the Dems must hold on to 46 of their current seats plus win five additional seats in the coming election to control the Senate. (If the Dems hold on to 46 seats and win four more this election then there will be a 50-50 tie in the Senate. In a 50-50 Senate, if Biden beats Trump, then Kamala Harris as VP can break ties. In a 50-50 Senate, if Trump beats Biden then Pence as VP can break ties.) While the most important thing we can do is unseat Trump, if we don’t also retake the senate, then Mitch McConnell will stall any and all attempts to address the myriad critical challenges faced by America And if Trump does win and we don’t retake the Senate, he will have a free hand to continue reshaping the courts, with an impact that would extend decade. So, in either instance, it is essential we retake the Senate.

This November there are 35 Senate seats up for election. Currently Democrats hold 12 of these seats and Republicans hold 23. Of the 12 Democratic seats, ten appear very secure, one leans Dem (Peters of Michigan) and one is very likely to be defeated (Jones of Alabama).

Of the 23 Republicans seats up for election, ten appear very secure, and six more are quite likely to remain in Republican hands. That leave seven more that are very much up for grabs. 

So, eight Senate seats are very much in play, seven held by the GOP and one, seat held by a DemocratSen. Peters of Michigan. The seven Republican seats with the latest Real Clear Politics rolling average polling data follow. We present the races where the Democrats are leading first.

Where the GOP incumbent leads

The Democrats will need to win six of these eight heavily contested seats to take control of the Senate! If you are inclined to make financial contributions to Senatorial candidates, these are the primary ones to contribute to.

The good news is, if those numbers hold, then we retake the Senate at 51-49. While that result currently hangs upon the thread of a 0.3% lead in Iowa, the good news is that in most of the above races, the trending is Democratic. What’s more another race is beginning to emerge in South Carolina where Jaime Harrison is challenging Lindsay Graham, a race in which the most recent poll shows Harrison tied and surging. While I get daily McGrath ads asking for donations and asserting that the race is tightening, I haven’t seen much evidence of this in the polls.

Some criteria for choosing candidates to support:

  1. Races that are very winnable — e.g. the eight contests listed above
  2. Lower budget races where your $ can make the biggest difference — e.g. Alaska (Al Gross), Iowa (Theresa Greenfield), Kansas (Barbara Bollier), Maine (Sara Gideon), Montana (Steve Bullock)
  3. Races in states that are also key swing states (Arizona, Maine, Colorado, Michigan and Iowa). This way your work for a Senate candidate will also promote a Biden win in that state. A twofer; and perhaps most importantly,
  4. Do you know people in the state, people you could engage in a collective effort, people you could reach out to through our Zoom Strategy to Create a Team.

Winning Key Swing States

Below, we have provide info on two national organizations, Swing Left and Vote Forward, each of whom has a somewhat different approach to how you can play a role in the 2020 general election. We first present Swing Left, followed by Move Forward. In different ways, each makes it exceedingly easy for you to get in the game. Let’s Do It.

Swing Left: A Guide to National Advocacy. This site is a tremendous resource for people living outside swing states or districts. You can plug in a zip code and find races nearby that are swing races. Maybe you moved to NM from one of those districts and so know people there who could be activated or maybe you will decide to devote an hour a day to phone banking to boost voter registration in Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania or Texas. Swing Left has all the tools you will need to make this easy.

SwingLeft has analyzed the polls and identified the key states where an infusion of volunteer contributions and time, we could ensure a Biden win.

Geting started with SwingLeft: To get connected, join at

  • Mass Texting is a relatively new technology which enables you to “push” 300 or so texts at a time from your computer or laptop.  Your phone isn’t needed at all, and your personal identity is not disclosed, though the site is shown. Open Progress Text Troop trains you very well how to respond to just about any communication you get in response to your texts, and their Slack channel has moderators at all times for that occasional unusual situation. Typically, after you send out your batch, you’ll get most of your responses almost immediately, with some residual responses into the next day.  A dedicated hour or so then, and then a few check backs to catch late responses. This is a way of doing activism on your schedule and it’s satisfying. Most people are polite, and a rude response by text doesn’t feel as personal as when you make a phone call.  
  • Fundraising:  When people think of fundraising, they often picture big-money donors, but the median donor to Swing Left funds has given just $25.  Despite that, in 2018, SwingLeft grassroots volunteers raised ~ $11 million to support Democratic nominees.  You and your personal network—and thousands of people like you across the country—can beat the Big Money Republicans at their own game. After you check out Blueprint for yourself, perhaps you can help spread the word to your contacts to make it easy for others to also contribute more effectively in this critical election
  • Recruit others to join this work.  Invite a small group of friends to join you for a regular virtual letter or postcard writing party for more fun and more letters done.  In addition, each of us probably has relationships with family, former roommates, former neighbors and others who live in one of the 12 Super States.   In addition to suggesting that they join up with Swing Left, you can send them this information and then follow-up with a call. We need to catalyze and activate as many people as we can in these Super States. The same Swing Left tools available to those outside the Super States can be deployed by those within them.

Interestingly, political giving on the left is usually lopsided and inefficient with 50% of candidate donations going to races in which highly visible, safe candidates who need donations the least end up receiving the most. Instead, effective giving should target the highest-impact and highest-need campaigns which, unfortunately, requires on-the-ground knowledge and expertise not usually available to most donors. 

Fortunately, Swing Left’s analysts have assessed the entire political landscape, crunched the numbers and identified the elections and organizations where a marginal dollar will go the furthest at each stage of the electoral cycle.  With this data, they have built Blueprint, a highly sophisticated tool proven to direct donations strategically to where they will have the greatest impact on electoral outcomes.  With input of a donor’s preferences and goals, Blueprint delivers an individualized, diverse portfolio to each donor, large or small, directed to the most competitive state and federal races where they are needed the most.  To learn more and try it out for your contributions to Super State races go to

Vote Forward. Vote Forward has developed a dynamic system that allows you to write to individuals in 9 swing states. Vote Forward provides you with addresses of potential voters who their research suggests would vote Democrat, but where their research also has determined that without a nudge, these potential voters will not turn out to vote. Randomized trials have demonstrated that inconsistent voters are much more likely to vote, if they receive a personal letter explaining why it is so important they vote. There is something motivating just knowing that someone took the time to write to you personally. Vote Forward provides template language, names and addresses and suggestions for how to get supplies during Covid. Pre-quarantine, Vote Forward had suggested that you organize a group of friends and gather once a week to write letters together. While that may not be possible now, in the coming weeks, as quarantine regulations ease, you can do this in groups. But for now, you can devote an hour a day of your quarantined time to writing potential voters. And VoteForward offers many options for action.

MULTIPLE OPTIONS FOR ACTION, working on your own or with a small group, all from home 

  • Preparing Letters to Voters- (2 hours a week or more)
  • Writing Postcards to Voters-(1 hour a week or more)
  • Mass Texting- (1 hour a week or more)
  • Phone banking-(2 hrs/week or more)
  • Help pay for stamps, cards and envelopes (any amount)
  • Donating and Fundraising for candidates (by sending informational emails to friends and contacts)
  • Recruiting friends and family to join you in making a difference
  • Preparing Letters to Voters through VOTE FORWARD  

Vote Forward pioneered the use of meta data to identify less frequent voters who would likely vote for Democrats IF they vote. This approach was first tested and proven to work in the Alabama special Senate election that Democrat Doug Jones won in 2017. Compared to similar voters who did not receive a letter, the campaign increased turnout by 3.9%. That doesn’t sound like much but in a close race it’s gold.

In the 2020 election, Vote Forward letters will be targeted to the 12 super states in a campaign being completed by multiple progressive and democratic organizations and grassroots groups all over the country.


Getting started:

  1. Sign up for a VOTE account at
  2. Read Vote Forward’s simple explanation of the letter writing campaign
  3. If you want to go ahead, follow the instructions to join in. That starts the Vote Forward vetting process and in 24-48 hours you’ll hear from them that you’re approved
  4. After approval, you can start downloading letters to complete on your own.  If you prefer to wait until you try out the letter writing at our virtual letter writing party, that’s fine too.
  5. If you have indicated your interest in writing6 letters, we’ll send you an  invitation to the virtual letter writing party and for a packet of printed letters.
  6. Stock up on “peel and seal” letter sized envelopes
  7. Stock up on stamps (can be ordered online from US Post Office or


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