ActBlue: Organizing for the Future

Like many of you, I spent Tuesday morning waiting for the Prop 8 decision to come down. The result was a disappointment, but it got me thinking about where we go from here. I think that the biggest lesson I’ve taken away from this struggle is that organizing is crucial to success. You’ve got to get the money, then the people, and then the result. And you’ve got to start early.

With that in mind, I wanted to talk a little bit about what we’re interested in doing in ’09 and ’10, and the role that all of you can play in that process.

For starters, we’re very interested in ballot initiatives. While every cycle a few of these enter the national media consciousness, far too many slip through the cracks, their likely effects on the community obscured by confusing language. We’d like to become a place where Democrats can raise the money they need to support or oppose these often esoteric measures.

So what can you do as just one person?

It’s pretty simple: when you discover a ballot initiative that affects your community, shoot us an email about it. Let us know who's supporting/opposing it and suggest that they get set up on ActBlue.

In the same vein, we've also started up a pilot program for local races in Boston, San Francisco, Houston, Cleveland, Charlotte and Cook County (IL). We've gotten an enthusiastic response, but we'd like to reach every Democratic candidate we can. So if you know of someone running for office in those cities, please urge them to get listed with ActBlue. We're all familiar with the old saw that all politics is local, and we figured it's time someone started taking it seriously.

The next big issue we’re interested in is the coming round of redistricting. To make a long story short, in 2010 we’re going to take a census. In 2011, the states will begin the process of redrawing federal congressional districts based on the results of that census. As we all remember from the Tom DeLay shenanigans circa 2003, the GOP isn’t inclined to play fair on this issue. Democratic leaders in Washington are preparing for another round of protracted legal wrangling after the fact. We have a slightly different prescription:


Redistricting is the next major strategic battlefield in Democratic politics, and your help is essential. In 36 states, redistricting plans are voted on by the state legislature. So figure out who your state representative is, and give them a call. Encourage them to get set up on ActBlue. Do the same for your state senator. If either of those people happen to be Republicans, find out who their Democratic challenger is and point them our way. Ditto for the gubernatorial race in your state.

This is a battle we’ll help you fight in all 50 states,* and we’re the only ones out there who can.


P.S. Among the many reasons I work at ActBlue is that I think what we do here is pretty cool. We’re expanding the pool of people engage in political activity, breaking down barriers to entry in Democratic politics, and helping Democrats organize support for the causes that matter most to them. We do what we do in all 50 states, and I like to think we do it well. Apparently, so does James-freakin’-Bond. It’s nice to know he feels the same way as I do.

*Okay, okay, it's only 43 if you want to get all technical. Seven states have only a single congressional representative, and therefore no need to redistrict.

We’re Blue, ActBlue.

Anyone can create a personal fundraising page at ActBlue. As a result, there are a lot of people who like to get the political system a little shaken up and bring new money into politics via a personalized ActBlue page. Others are stirred into action at the bequest of someone else's ask to donate through their page.

But whether you are shaken or stirred into political action, ActBlue is ready and waiting for everyone.

And that means everyone- including James Bond.

Those of you with a golden eye may have noticed that 1990's James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan and his wife are hosts of an ActBlue fundraising events page for a Democratic candidate in California's 35th State Assembly District. Fundraising for Democrats certainly has some similarities to film. You often pay a ticket for entry, hope that the candidate becomes a (ballot) box office hit, and you pull for the good guys to win.

Ten years ago, the state of our world was not enough for some voters to become engaged. But today, as he writes in his personal fundraising pitch, Brosnan understands that we can't wait to let the earth die another day.

Susan was critical in our fight to stop the construction of a
dangerous Liquefied Natural Gas terminal off the coast of Malibu and
Oxnard in 2007. In 2008, Susan stopped the construction of a massive
Orange County toll road through San Onofre State Park, the birthplace
of Trestles, a world renown surf spot. Currently, she is fighting to
stop renewed offshore oil drilling off our California coast.

Over the last 15 years, Susan has been a tireless environmental
leader who has taken on the toughest fights in California and won. To
make sure our environment, our communities and our children are
protected, we need her in the California legislature now more than ever.

Democratic candidates need support and they can get that through ActBlue. The idea of setting up your own event or personal fundraising page tomorrow never dies, but there's no reason to delay- click here and get started today!


ActBlue does not take sides in Democratic primaries. All examples are for illustrative purposes only.

Act(Blue) On The Issues!

Let me do a little introductory dance here. I’m Adrian, and I work at ActBlue as our Deputy Communications Director. I’ve been a Kos reader for years, but this is my first trip to the big leagues, so to speak. Anyway, let’s get to it: we’re all familiar with what ActBlue can do during election years, I wanted to talk a little bit about what we can do together when it’s an off year.

As you’re all aware, there are a number of tumultuous issues roiling Washington D.C. these days: torture, confirmation battles present and future, and a high-profile party switch, to name just a few. ActBlue allows you to construct a visible narrative of support for the politicians who represent your views, months and even years before an election. Money talks, and the circular handshake of financial support and media attention is how political fortunes are made and broken. You can play a role in that process by supporting politicians who take positions you like, even when it’s not an election year. So how do you construct that narrative?

Well, you’d better believe that the next election is very much on the candidate’s mind, and a concerted fundraising push in response to a particular statement or position sends a message to the campaign that there’s a real support base out there. That encourages them to stick to their guns and adopt similar positions in the future. If you sustain that push via repeat giving or recurring donations, the media attention those numbers garner will amplify your influence.

In the weeks to come, I’m going to be posting entries about the issues of the day and how you can use ActBlue to influence them. And, just in case you don’t believe you can influence politics this way, I’ve included a step-by-step timeline of how your donations forced the NRCC out of the MN-06 race last year and brought the DCCC in, all over the course of a weekend!

Friday October 17th, 2008: Michelle Bachmann decided to channel McCarthy on Hardball. Prior to her comments, El Tinklenberg had raised $2k on ActBlue. Afterwards, the dam broke and as much as $200/minute came pouring through ActBlue.

Saturday October 18th, 2008: The firestorm ignited by Bachmann’s comments continued to grow, producing 120k for Tinklenberg on ActBlue. By late afternoon, Politico had picked up the story, bringing it to a national audience. The hits kept coming with a UPI wire report at 8PM. By 9PM, Tinklenberg’s ActBlue haul stood at $230k and growing.

Sunday October 19th, 2008: By the end of the day, Tinklenberg had brought in $270k through ActBlue, and had planned a major advertising blitz. The Minneapolis Star Tribune, the largest regional paper in the area, had also picked up the story, bringing it to households throughout the district.

Monday October 20th, 2008: In the morning, the DCCC announced that it would jump into the race and run $1mil worth of ads against Bachmann. Later that night, the beleaguered Republican discovered that she had a write-in GOP opponent. Tinklenberg’s end-of-day ActBlue tally stood at $300k.

Over the next couple of days, the NRCC pulled out of MN-06, and Survey USA put out a poll showing Tinklenberg leading Bachmann 47% to 44%. Tinklenberg’s final ActBlue number: 8000 donations amounting to $313k, all over the space of a weekend.

Now, regardless of the ultimate outcome of that race, it was a triumph of broad-based Democratic fundraising. The quick response from outraged Democrats drove a days-long news story and pulled in the major national committee. And all of this while a historic presidential campaign was sucking up a lot of the bandwith and money out there. Underlying all of that was ActBlue’s flexible and responsive technology, which enabled people to open up a new tab in their browser and make their opinion known, not just in Minnesota, but across the country.

Stay tuned over the next few weeks as I take a look at the contentious issues in Washington, and outline ways to use ActBlue to influence them. As always, feel free to drop us an email with any questions. I can promise you that real humans (myself included!) read every email.