From Red 2 Blue: Doug Jones Wins in Alabama

How Democrats can win elections even in the most red state

It has been a long and bizarre special election for U.S. Senate in Alabama and it finally came to a close on Tuesday. Once a long shot, Doug Jones, a Democratic former prosecutor turns Alabama from red to blue by defeating Republican and former Judge Roy Moore.

Even amidst the allegations against Roy Moore, Moore was still the favorite going into Tuesday’s election according to the polls, but Jones was just a normal polling error away from winning.

Alabama is a deeply red State that carried President Trump by 28 percentage points in 2016. So normally this race really shouldn’t be as close or as competitive as it was. But Judge Moore, however, was an extremely divisive figure in Alabama politics before his campaign began.

Moore was already significantly underperforming compared to Trump’s margin in polls before The Washington Post first reported on Nov. 9, that Moore had been accused of sexual misconduct. Since then the polls swung in favor of Jones and then back to Moore.

The obvious flaws in candidate Moore help narrow the small margin Moore had over Jones. But now Doug Jones is Alabama’s first Democratic Senator in 25 years! So how did Doug Jones rally the Democratic base in Alabama and extend a torch to disenfranchised Republicans?

Messaging & Communication

Although the demographics of Alabama favored the Republican candidate, Jones’ campaign strategy targeted specific groups which would give him the required momentum to push him across the finish line. His campaign focused on African-American voters with a rigorous get out the vote effort and appealed to educated white voters to turn their backs on the Republican Party and Moore.

We saw a similar strategy used in Virginia last month, but appealing to disenfranchised Republican voters is different in Alabama than Virginia. Trump is extremely popular in Alabama, he won by the largest margin since Reagan. But Jones’ path to victory lied in the suburbs as Republicans and Trump have a serious suburban problem. Doug Jones’ campaign targeted this group heavily just like we saw in Virginia and was able to get affluent whites which would be normal GOP voters to abandon Moore and the Republican Party.

GOTV Efforts

The Doug Jones campaign relied heavily on a huge get out the vote effort and also energizing the Democratic base in Alabama. This momentum was mostly propelled by progressive and African-Americans voters who have been long-waiting for a revolutionary like change in the divisive brand of Politics that has flourished in Alabama. According to CBS News Exit Poll, Doug Jones was able to get 96% of the African American vote and 98% of the democratic vote. This is exactly what getting out the vote looks like and this is what Doug Jones needed to do to win. In addition Doug Jones turned out 51% of independents, 60% of young voters, 57% of women and 8% of Republicans flipped their vote from Moore to Jones. Getting 8% of Republicans to switch their vote from party affiliation is daunting especially in a racially and politically polarized state like Alabama. But this will become a focal point going into 2018 for Democrats and there will be low hanging fruit for them because of the GOP party and the candidates they allow to run on their platform.

Ridiculous Candidates

One huge issue for Republicans is they are suffocating themselves by their own devisiveness. The constant use of fear & hate-mongering and overall craziness of some of their candidates is slowly pushing moderates away from their party and into the arms of the Democratic party. For example, Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), a long-time GOP darling had a gem a while back which was a typical Republican talking point. Why should men pay for prenatal coverage when they cannot become pregnant, I think Rep. Shimkus forgot how babies were made. Or when Rep. Shimkus said global warming isn't something to worry about because God said he wouldn't destroy the Earth after Noah's flood. And some in the GOP like to take it even further, Texas Rep. Randy Weber once compared Obama to Hitler. These types of crazy actions and insane behavior are not only allowed in the Republican party but are encouraged by the Republican leadership. These members don’t get scolded for their actions or outbursts in fact they get encouraged by the small percentage of their base and the top leaders among their party for fueling a politically polarizing environment.

While the GOP was able to amass just enough to claim victory in 2016 they will lose in the long run for allowing candidates to run on their platform who are overtly racists, misogynistic, anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigrant and Islamophobic. Democrats need to seize this opportunity to be inclusive to EVERYONE of any group and take a hard stance on being the party of morals and values where the GOP seems to continuously fall short.

The blue wave is building and it is gaining more & more momentum everyday. Now is the time for Democrats to tap into the political energy and revitalize the base and the party. There has never been a better time to run for office as a Democrat. We are seeing long-shot candidates win in the most red states and this is just the first of many red states that will turn blue in 2018.

Democrats looking to win big in 2018, winning starts early.

On election day last year many Americans weren’t prepared or foresaw the eventual results of the Democratic party imploding on itself. There we were beckoning in a new era of GOP control and a businessman turned reality star as our next President. Once the dust had settled we were left with President Trump, GOP controlled Legislature, 33 Republican Governors and 32 state Legislatures (both chambers).

Fast forward one year to Wednesday morning the day after Election Day 2017 and Republicans are waking up in total shock that they got destroyed in the first round leading to 2018. Republican strategist, consultants and candidates should worry for their future and what 2018 will hold.

Just as many Republicans benefited from Donald Trump’s rise in popularity and Presidential victory, they are now feeling the fallout. With an approval rating that hovers around 38%, it is hard for Republican candidate to distant themselves from President Trump or completely fall in line. While Trump’s overall approval rating is very low for a new President, he is still polling well within his base, around 85% approval. Republican candidates are stuck between a rock and hard place, Ed Gillespie is a perfect example of this.

Ed Gillespie just lost the Governorship of Virginia to Democrat Ralph Northam. Ed Gillespie’s campaign is a perfect example of the conundrum that Republicans will face running in 2018. He specifically chose to mimic a Trump style campaign that played into divisiveness and cultural hot buttons. Then after he lost his race by 9 points, Trump thumbed out a tweet which said “Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for.”

So Republicans are going to have hard decisions in 2018, either fall in line 100% with President Trump or veer-off course and risk rejection by their base and Twitter mentions from the President. Either way Republican candidates are going to have a difficult time walking that fine line. The times being what they are, this is the Democrats’ opportunity to take advantage of a splintering Republican party. Thankfully Democrats are in great position and extremely optimistic going into 2018.

There are plenty of large and small victories Democrats can take away from this first win, but the two biggest lessons center on messaging and technology. Dems thinking of running in 2018 or wanting to win in 2018 need to hone their communication strategy and double down on technology usage in their campaigns. The political environment is perfect for Democrats to run in 2018 and should further clear the path for 2020.

People interested in running should read the results from last week like a giant “You’re Invited” card.  Now is a great time to run and join the Progressive Democratic party. The results from last Tuesday indicate growing support for Americans candidates that tout progressive policies and ideas. The best example of this is voters overwhelming pass to expand access to medicaid under the Affordable Care act, making the state the first in the nation to settle the issue by referendum. Democrats should be taking advantage of this and healthcare should be front and center in their platform for 2018.

Dems should be jumping for joy over the results in Maine with Medicaid Expansion passing by 17 points! The political environment has Republican lawmakers in a pinch. A large percent of their base and top donors demand that they repeal the Affordable Care Act, but a large majority of the country demands they don’t. If Republicans go too far in any direction they risk alienating party activists or they mobilize swing voters against them. Either way this is just another peril which will befall all GOP candidates in next year’s midterm election. And one of the many policies Democrats should be leveraging for their 2018 platform.

The art of communication is the language of leadership.
— James C. Humes

When it comes to issues or policies, Dems are on the same side as the public, and they should be leveraging this and communicating more effectively! To do this, Democrats need to embrace technology and use it to their advantage in 2018 and forward.

Don’t be swayed by the results from the 2016 election, Democrats are making huge strides against the GOP at all levels. In Virginia, House Delegate candidate Danica Roem, a transgendered women, defeated 26 year GOP incumbent Bob Marshall who ironically co-sponsored a failed “bathroom bill”. Roem campaigned on infrastructure projects and job creation in Virginia.

According to Politico, Ed Gillespie spent over $4 million on television ads alone in the Virginia gubernatorial race. In the digital age, why are campaigns still spending this much money on TV when we know these ads don’t equate to votes?

Democrats need to lead the way not only in government and policy but in adapting and embracing technology that’s more targeted, more relevant, and more engaging.. We know the importance of digital strategy and messaging across all platforms, but when are we going to see campaigns move away from these old ineffective strategies and focus on strategies and communication tools that are proven effective?

We saw the impact of social media campaign in the 2016 election and the immense reach it had. Now equipped with the knowledge after the fact and the same technology Democrats should be imposing these strategies and focusing on getting their message out in front of as many people as possible.

Democrats, you are in a great position going into 2018, now let’s utilize technology and out-strategize the other side. We aren’t going out without a fight, let’s fight together!

146 Million Americans Reached by Russia's Misinformation Campaign

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Over 1/3 of Americans exposed to a piece of Russia-linked misinformation propaganda.

According to a testimony presented by Facebook’s general counsel, Colin Stretch, at a hearing before the Senate last Wednesday, as many as 126 million Americans have seen material posted by a Russian-backed troll farm between 2015 and 2017.

This is  astounding for many reasons. First, this number represents  1/3 of the U.S. population. Second, it was previously reported that Facebook initially believed 10 million people saw Russia-linked ads aimed at misinforming and dividing American voters. Lastly, this number demonstrates  the amount of exposure and traffic that was being driven across  Facebook organically as well as through paid advertising. 

With Facebook’s recent admissions at these Capitol Hill hearings, it has come to light that even MORE Americans were reached—to the tune of 146 million!

According to U.S.A. Today earlier last week Facebook disclosed that 126 million Americans, a third of the U.S. population, may have been exposed to the Russian campaign. Posts on Instagram add another 20 million people, Facebook's general counsel Colin Stretch told lawmakers. 

Facebook, which owns the mobile app Instagram, stated that the 146 million people reached was thanks in part to users sharing, liking and forwarding the posts. Not every post was a paid ad, some went viral organically.

Now that we have evidence of the reach on Facebook, how do we use this knowledge for future campaigns and elections? At Red2Blue Political we analyzed how different candidates utilized social media in the 2016 election, achieved results and then compiled an evidence-based approach to optimizing Facebook’s platform to get the maximum results from organic posts and paid ads.

The big secret here is it is all about content and messaging! That’s right, content and messaging are king in this game. If we can learn anything from what Russia did in its efforts, it’s that they leveraged content and messaging to reach audiences that covered ⅓ of the U.S. population. And not just any content, but polarizing messages designed to create discord that spanned party lines and political ideologies. They did this by having users share and spread content to gain the maximum exposure on their propaganda, thereby exploiting the fundamental purpose and mission of a social platform like Facebook: “Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” How ironic!

On Facebook you can pay as much money as you want to serve an ad to whatever audience you want as long as you can map it out. But, to get the best ROI you want to get the most reach as possible for the least amount of money. This was leveraged heavily by the Russians in the type of content they employed. Knowing Facebook is a platform built on sharing, many of the posts that went viral centered on content that included eye-catching pictures, video, blog posts and memes. That is right, a political meme getting tens of thousands of likes and shares and serving hundreds of thousands of impressions in people’s news feeds on Facebook. This is where the "messaging" part becomes important-every piece of content played on sentiments of divisiveness and often fear mongering to get the most response from all political sides and parties. Yes, the misinformation coming out of Russia was not just aimed at one group or side. Here are some examples of Russian linked Facebook posts:

 

Now these examples are on the national level and span across the entire United States, but this approach is easily scalable to any audience and any voting district. At Red2Blue we have identified key strategies that any candidate or campaign can implement across all social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc).  We have created a blueprint for winning that leverages these strategies on social media in addition to other outlets of digital advertising. We are seeing unparalleled results when these approaches are combined with traditional political strategies.

While other actors will continue to try and misinform and divide us, we now have the knowledge and ability to counteract that by providing facts, correct information, stats, etc to constituents and anyone on Social Media and the rest of the Internet.

Red2Blue utilizes proprietary technology to give campaigns a competitive advantage over other candidates and other digital strategy approaches. Red2Blue’s evidence-based process and cutting-edge technology provide the same tools as the most well-financed national campaigns but for any progressive candidate with any sized campaign. Red2Blue is focused on providing all campaigns with a blueprint to winning; whether that is fundraising or GOTV efforts. Because the political environment is always changing we must too, Red2Blue is constantly adapting and positioning itself to best serve the candidates need while still delivering the best results and a winning strategy.

Let’s start winning again…