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A first look at the MDP coordinated campaign

by: Eric B.

Sun Jun 08, 2014 at 12:30:00 PM EDT

Got forwarded an e-mail that Lon Johnson sent out to a bunch of people late last week on the state of the MDP's coordinated campaign. I've been following Democratic politics for about a decade now, and there's something a bit different here, like that someone is talking about the MDP spending money getting offices up and running and people contacting others. Previously, it's felt like the MDP was outsourcing all this work to the unions. I could be wrong, but if I'm right this could mean a fairly significant development for the MDP as an organization ... meeting the realities of Right to Work and using it as an opportunity to modernize its outlook. At the time Right to Work passed, some of us noted that while Right to Work is terrible policy that it offered the Democratic Party an opportunity to break from the past and do things in tune with things as they are today.

The campaign has recruited 1,707 volunteers (of 8,844 people contacted during 74,317 calls) who've done 4,852 volunteer shifts, knocked on 4,224 doors and contacted 842 voters during 102 shifts, and contacted 509 voters during 5,077 phone calls over 96 shifts. Those are statewide numbers and while they seem awfully small in a state with millions of registered voters and Johnson's GOTV target of 900,000 of them. Work started in mid-May, however, and obviously as more people get recruited, the number of voters contacted grows exponentially.

According to the e-mail, the MDP coordinated campaign has opened eight offices and 45 employees, with plans to expand to 24 offices with 160 people. There was a not insubstantial amount of hand wringing a few months back about the choice to hire fund raisers for the party. This is the sort of thing that those fund raisers are helping to fund.

Again, I don't know how out of whack this is. Some of you probably have better informed ideas than me.

Eric B. :: A first look at the MDP coordinated campaign
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It's actually coordinated - and organized
Trying to think back - I don't think we've had a coordinated campaign that was this, well, coordinated. This is also quite early - in the past, the Coordinated wouldn't be functional until late July at the earliest. (In 2010 I don't think it opened until September!)

Now on Great Lakes, Great Times, Great Scott: Cotter vs. Jesus and Reagan

The change
The MDP coordinated campaign this year--the entire MDP 2014 operation--is benefiting from an influx of talent and capacity. Lon Johnson's emphasis on fundraising is the essential ingredient in this change. From Day One there was a decision not to rely so much on funding from a single source--organized labor--but to make it part of a growing pie that includes more money from individuals, an emphasis on growing membership, leveraging more relationships with more major donors, and putting Michigan in the big leagues when it comes to national Democratic institutions.  In other words,a strategy backed by strong leadership.

All of this is being complimented by work on the progressive side and having a much more robust and focused leadership in past years within the state House Democratic caucus.  

But we are not even close to a place where we can see how this all ends on Election Day.  The odds are still against the Democrats and to overcome the odds the coordinated campaign must perform in turning out dropoff voters, those who usually vote only in presidential years.  

There are other things in the mix that create uncertainty, including a lingering hangover among some who were on the losing side of the campaign for party chair and want to regain control and Johnson's shortcomings, generally, in collaborating with groups outside the immediate Democratic party circle. Some of these same groups are closely linked to former chair Mark Brewer so there's a tension there that probably can be overcome by leaders who see the big picture, but, then again, maybe not.

These difficulties may be offset by some astute new off-year campaign strategies by the MDP and a Detroit political operation that is likely to be humming with activity and money from the MDP and others.  

I feel like we are in the 5th inning of a game that can't go into extra innings and are behind by a run. We have a starting pitcher who is doing well and depth at the plate.  But our bullpen is untested and the other side has paid off one of the umpires. It can go either way.

Do you have any numbers on how much more money we have actually raised? How much was raised from non-labor sources? Or how much more money we have spent? What we have spent money on compared to last cycles?

I personally do not know many people that share your views, which includes people that supported both Lon and Brewer.

[ Parent ]
Comparisons are difficult
I don't have numbers handy for 2010, which would be the most apt comparison. No question spending on fundraising is way up and you measure ROI on that in two ways: immediate results and developing a longer-term donor base.  How well the long-term fundraising picture does depends to a large degree on how donors feel about the short-term ROI for this election cycle.  

I know this:  MDP is close to meeting its revenue projections for the coordinated campaign. As noted elsewhere here, major national institutional donors (DGA, DSCC, DCCC) are funding the coordinated at a high level and so are the top of the ticket candidates.  The fundraising trend lines are looking good to support a high-capacity coordinated campaign and special projects.  

I admit I don't really talk to lots of sources but rely mostly on the numbers I see being reported to the party's exec committee and compare those to Johnson's coordinated campaign budget projections.  

[ Parent ]
"Our bullpen is untested"
Could be worse. Have you seen the Tigers' relief corps this season?

A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always count on the support of Paul.

[ Parent ]

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