The 50 State Strategy: Iowa And New Hampshire Are For Newbies

Candidate Attention Is a Valuable And Scarce Resource

Its very important to understand that the vast majority of states do not get a lot of candidate money or attention. I have met people in Iowa who have gone to 80 events a campaign season for 10 seasons, which is 40 years of events. 800 events meeting 100 candidates over that time. Iowa and New Hampshire arguably get more campaign events and candidate visits than the entire rest of the country. Add in the other early states, Nevada and South Carolina, and this is definitively true. These states are supersaturated, every 4 years with ad cash candidate time and canvassing. A dollar goes a lot farther on Montana or Utah or Wyoming, or even Missouri or Alabama or Kentucky, than it does in one of these states.

Bernie needs to win pluralities in Iowa and New Hampshire to be on pace to get 50% of the vote and prevent a contested convention but he doesn’t need to win outright there. His policies are popular in these states, all the voters are aware of him, and he has huge ground operations there. Given his 100 days and 40 million dollars invested in these states combined a smart candidate would distribute that time and money elsewhere in 2020.

Spending Time In Iowa Is Overrated For A Front Runner Who Is Assured Of 20% Of The Vote

10 days each in Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Oklahoma would be worth far more than 50 days in Iowa. 44 delegates vs 414 delegates. These are mostly bigger states that cost more to run ads in but, as we discussed, ads are a low quality option for a front runner with massive on the ground support. 10 days is approximately 20 events, compared with the 3 or 4 events leading candidates engaged in in Missouri in 2016. Missouri only had offices for 2 weeks and yet Bernie almost won. Bernie needs to win these states with around 60% of the delegates, ~50-55% of the vote, to win nationally. Going from 50% of the delegates to 55% is 21 delegates.

These 5 states will be relatively uncontested in 2020 just as they were in 2016. Sanders won or barely lost these states against the united power of the Clinton Democratic party. They all have favorable demographics for him as well. All of them but Oklahoma border on Iowa as well so his efforts will bleed into the news there. There is a decent amount of regional correlation such that he will get an indirect boost in Iowa.

New Hampshire Is Just As Oversold As Iowa

Bernie could spend his 50 New Hampshire days in Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Connecticut and Delaware. These were all good states for Bernie besides Maryland and they account for 275 delegates to 24 from New Hampshire. Aside from perhaps Warren in Massachusetts these states will not be heavily contested. Harris and Booker will focus in the South, Castro in the Southwest, and maybe Klobuchar in the Midwest and Mountain states. Warren is his biggest issue in the Northeast. Ideally she gets out before Super Tuesday but if she doesn’t take a big hit in Massachusetts, where she did not significantly outperform the state fundamentals in her Senate election, would be very helpful to get her to a post Super Tuesday exit.

Massachusetts and Maine border New Hampshire, which is why Boston mayor Marty Walsh was a big surrogate for Hillary in New Hampshire in 2016, while Connecticut is one state away. These states have a basic regional affinity as well. A 5% boost in these states, vs spending the same resources in NH where you are competing against a dozen candidates, is worth 14 delegates. Realistically to have a 14 delegate lead in NH you’d need 60% of the vote in a super competitive state.

First In Last Out Isn’t Just For Programming

One thing most people don’t consider is that when you are the first on the air and on the ground you can build positive engagement without worry about negative attacks coming at you. The first mover bonus as far as demonstrating commitment to voters is large, and you get to define the terms of the fight. Voters will look at where you campaign in the primary and also compare that in the general to see if you are authentic and sincere in your actions.

Bernie could arguably gain a boost in delegates greater than the total delegate count of Iowa and New Hampshire by competing in surrounding states that typically receive little attention. Every candidate has the same number of days to allocate to the race. There is a huge advantage in strategic use of your time. If all the other candidates are blowing time, and cash, in the same state, that will split a lot of the vote. When you have a core level of support in every single state sufficient to break the 15% threshold, you have a ton of options as far as where you spend time which opponents with weaker support and minimal national name recognition don’t have.

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 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.