The 50 State Strategy: When Bernie Is The Frontrunner

Senator Bernie Sanders is the frontrunner in the 2020 Democratic primary race. Don’t believe anyone who tells you different. He leads the prediction markets on average, he is tied or leading in the polls and he is just leading, big time, if Biden doesn’t run. He has the most donors, volunteers, and cash. So its time for him to look at the choice Hillary Clinton made in 2016 and go the other way. Clinton shoved all her resources into Iowa and New Hampshire and this cost her a ton of delegates in other states. Meanwhile Bernie lost Iowa by 0.2% and won New Hampshire by 23%.

Senator Bernie Sanders spent $40 million in Iowa and New Hampshire in 2016. He campaigned 50 days in each state. As a Missouri volunteer I spent more time in Iowa than my own state. Multiple weekends plus 7 days in the run up to caucus night. We got a whole 2 weeks to campaign in Missouri once the office opened and we got on the canvassing app. That was fine in 2016 when Bernie needed to get cheap news headlines and build name recognition. It is a terrible strategy for the candidate with a massive national profile and piles of small donor cash.

Bernie Sanders is on track to raise $400 million dollars in 2020. He got $228 million in 2016. Bernie made $14 mil in Q2, $30 milĀ  in Q3, and $37 mil in Q4 of 2015, the year comparable to 2019 this time around. We are one month into Q1 of 2019 and Bernie has raised $14 mil in fresh cash, once we get the most recent totals, and he had $14 mil in the bank already. We have an extra three months of fundraising and we are already way ahead of the game. I’ve been saving up to max out this time, compared to last time, and to do it much earlier. I know I’m not alone.

Bernie needs to have at least 1 office in every state and every city over 100k people before Q2 is over. That’s roughly 300 offices when you account for crossover. Assuming a salary of $50000 a year, which totals out to ~$75000 per staffer by the end of the campaign before GE fundraising kicks in, Bernie could hire 3000 full time staffers for the whole campaign and still have tons of cash for senior staff, offices. Note that as primaries start to happen over the 5 month voting period you can start moving staffers to other places. You have 60 staffers a state on average, perhaps you do 2 staffers per 100k population in smaller states, so 10 in Wyoming, to 60 in Iowa, and then you take a small hit in the bigger states, but efficiency scales with size. You could also just hire an extra 1000 if you needed to.

Paying staffers provides a lot of benefits over pure ad spending when you are a progressive grass roots campaign. You are training new activists and organizers on the job, although to some degree people on a presidential campaign will already have some qualifications, you are allowing progressives to change our political system without a second job, you are throwing millions to large corporations and a media which dislikes you, this money can be donated to your campaign, I believe, but definitely to other campaigns including House and Senate candidates and state candidates to help you get support for your agenda, and other second order bonuses like that. With 3000 staffers plus the associated offices and other infrastructure you are in a position to knock on every relevant door as often as it takes.

3000 staffers could knock on 30 million doors by themselves. Or they could organize your army of 1.5-3 million volunteers to knock on every potential voter’s door 5-10 times. You can reach even marginal voters because you have so much on the ground canvassing power. There has been no Democratic primary in which more than 40 million people have voted. You have power to spare and the organization to use it well.

Ad spend is typically used to build name rec and campaign awareness. It costs a ton of money and a ton of that money goes to the ad buyer, Tad Devine in 2016. He made millions. No supporter wants to donate to enrich him and major media. Also Bernie has name rec. On top of this when you are knocking on every door 10 times because of your massive grassroots army, name rec is not a big deal.

I’ll be doing at least 20 posts on the 50 state strategy. One more is going up right after this. Bernie needs to fight for every single delegate. So many candidates don’t have the cash to compete nationally. Advantage Bernie.

Electing Bernie Sanders: Running An Unconventional Campaign For An Unconventional Candidate

Bernie Sanders is one of the most unique presidential candidates in modern American politics. He’s an atheist, Jewish, socialist Senator who is not a member of a political party. A candidate this unique needs a campaign that is similarly sui generis. At ElectingBernieSanders.net I am going to discuss what unique advantages Bernie has, how he can use them to win, and what electoral strategy his campaign should pursue. I will also discuss a lot of other things related to his presidential campaign. I’ll address a few things at a high level in this post.

Bernie Sanders is a candidate who promises to govern in a new way and to pursue policy that no person who has been elected president has pursued. For this reason he needs to campaign in a way no one else has campaigned. I’ll cover all the major things Bernie can do to boost his campaign in a series of posts following this but I’ll go through a brief outline now.

The first thing Bernie should do is build on his 1 million volunteer success by requesting that each person send 3-7$, if possible, as a donation to the campaign. Not only do small donations add up when you are talking about 1 million people but he could release the results of the request to prove that he has 1 million unique volunteers, including over 324,000 new people not involved in 2016, and that they will take actions more significant than signing a pledge online to support him. If he has a way to verify that volunteer total that is massive. For instance 1 million people knocking on a single door list each is potentially 50 million door knocks. No Democratic primary has had more than 40 million voters.

Bernie has already begun what I had planned to have as a major effort to improve his campaign. He has hired one of the most diverse high level campaign staffs ever, including co-chairs. So we’ll skip all the arguments about that. Of course it would be ideal if he kept this up and even expanded it to the lower tiers.

A major aspect of a successful Sanders campaign would be to create a unified online organizing hub with modern features and social media integration. Social media is great for outreach, but very limiting for organizing. A proper tiered system of organizing handling multiple levels of interaction and commitment would be a huge boost to any online focused campaign, especially one to the scale of Bernie’s. Social media for outreach, Slack/Discord for the lowest level of organizing, and then follow that up with 2 or 3 more levels of commitment topped by campaign staff at the highest level. The post on this will be pretty huge so buckle in for that.

The next major step Bernie needs to take involves both showing a commitment to all of the constituencies of the Democrats, demonstrating commitment on climate change, and getting a progressive Congress willing and able to pass his sweeping legislative agenda. Did I not go over his sweeping agenda yet? A later post then. Bernie needs to field a slate of young female and/or minority candidates in the 70 House seats that Democrats lost by 10% or less in 2018. In a world where Bernie could become the nominee, we could expect a minimum of 40 of those seats to flip while keeping all the party’s existing seats. There are only 435 House seats, ending a repeal of the law that capped them at that number. Far less than half of the existing House members deserve to be there. There are far more people, even when excluding straight, white men, who are more qualified and more deserving than the median Democratic member, much less the median House member overall. Pushing for a more diverse legislature would not lower the quality in any way.

Following this is Bernie campaigning on a massive election reform effort including opening up the number of House seats, passing local, state, and Congressional ranked choice voting, or another form of voting superior to first past the post, and working towards amendments or a convention to institute modern Democratic reforms like multi member districts, national, probably party list, based constituencies, and other significant legislation.

The most significant factor in Bernie winning after having a serious online hub is campaign strategy. The campaign left hundreds of delegates on the table in 2016 because they opened offices in states with a week or two weeks to go until the primary there. This was partially necessary, Bernie had a ton of work to do in early states and for fundraising. Not this time. Bernie is the frontrunner, he has the most cast and donors, the most volunteers, and he is competing against an unruly herd of opponents with limited money and resources. A 50 State Strategy is just as critical for a serious candidate in the primary as it is in the general. No excuses.

There are many more minor but no less important changes Bernie must engage with but we’ll cover those under the post about his potential legislative agenda. I’ll be trying to write a couple posts every day, with a minimum of one, from now on. The next two days should allow for ~10 more posts on various topics. Feel The Bern.