Every vote counts. They can't rig a landslide.

Fed Up New Yorkers started in 2018 targeting competitive congressional districts in New York State. Our performance has led us to believe we can (and must) do more and we are now targeting battleground states in the 2020 election.

A PLAN TO TARGET KEY SWING DISTRICTS

Think how you’d feel reading these headlines on Nov. 4th

It’s entirely possible. But to make it happen, everybody has to help. You have to help. That is why we are seeking help in the form of time, talent, expertise, and, bluntly, money. Because reaching voters effectively requires media, even if it’s a relatively low-cost strategy such as we’re proposing. I’ll get back to the “how” shortly. But first, the “why.”

We’re long past the time for opining about wealth inequality, global warming, nuclear Armageddon, or any of the other catastrophes we’re facing. If nothing else, this pandemic, this racial explosion, this economic collapse—and Trump’s responses, his venality, ignorance and incompetence—make it clear we are not cultural anthropologists living with the natives and writing essays (or Facebook posts) on our findings. No, this is it. The unique make or break moment.

Either we get rid of this monster and his gang of murderers, thieves and traitors or we’re all dead, along with our children, our parents, and anyone else we care about. Any hope for moving back from the abyss, restoring the rule of law, and achieving a more progressive society will vanish. Nothing else matters. If it isn’t already too late, time absolutely runs out on November 3.  

We’re offering this plan so we can all do something useful. You may think you can’t do much more than hope for the best and vote—if the Republicans let us. Sadly, that’s how many people in power want us to feel, from the lowliest city council member to the top of the political dung heap. That’s an aspect of politics that’s not unique to Trump.

But especially now, this feeling of being a helpless spectator is wrong. Because it’s unnecessary! Despite the harm they sometimes do, social media empower everybody. They enable us to reach and organize like-minded people without depending on mainstream organizations, or making compromises with the economic and political pressures that mainstream leaders face. Think of such genuinely grass-roots movements as Women’s March, Indivisible, Black Lives Matter, and so on. Each of these began as a few people sitting around a table with an idea and commitment. So for us? Something simple and informal. We’re not proposing a permanent organization, just putting together something truly useful that we can do until November 3.      

So what's the plan? One or two battleground states.

We’ll target different population segments in one or two battleground states, Florida first, and depending on whether we can raise a bit of money and get enough people involved, Pennsylvania and/or Michigan.  

florida_base_map

Trump won Florida — if he actually won it – by 112,911 votes out of more than 9,000,000 cast. Trump won Michigan by 11, 612 votes out of 4,547,998 cast. Trump won Pennsylvania by about 70,000 votes out of 5,757, 646 cast.  Of the 227 million eligible voters in the country, almost half didn’t vote.

We know how. Our model was the 2018 midterm election. 

We targeted just two competitive congressional districts in New York State, one upstate and one on Staten Island. The Republican was favored in each of them. Our pitch combined a political cartoon with text that argued for the importance of a Democratic landslide. We boosted this message on the “Fed Up New Yorkers” Facebook page, targeting the most responsive demographic categories: voters who engaged with, liked and shared this post.

We know this worked. We tested how different categories of voters responded, and found that we got respectable results despite investing only modest amounts of money. And while we can’t say our efforts made the difference in these two close elections, the Democrats won both seats. 

This cartoon was created for Fed Up New Yorkers by Keith Seidel, whose work is widely seen in national publications.

By social media measures, these numbers aren’t overwhelming, but it was relatively inexpensive. After seeing Democratic victories in both districts we targeted, we felt good that we had a feasible alternative to just preaching to the choir.

With that proof of concept from 2018, we are preparing to scale up to a state-level election. Given the razor-thin margins in the states we plan to target, we are confident we can do something meaningful.

Florida has 27 congressional districts. In the presidential election, we don’t have to contend with gerrymandering. A vote in any congressional district counts just as much as in any other district. It’s the statewide total that determines which candidate gets the Electoral College votes. Therefore, in a battleground state, every vote counts. And we need a landslide. Trump, the Republican Party, Putin, and other malign forces are working hard to rig this election. The examples are obvious: voter suppression tactics in many states, Trump’s attacks on mail-in balloting, baseless assertions of “voter fraud.” Yes, they’ll try to rig it. You can take that to the bank.

What we’ll do: Keith Seidel will bring his “landslide” cartoon up to date for 2020. We’ll use it for every congressional district. As for the text, we will use social media to direct readers to longer informational and persuasive articles. Each of those will be aimed to chip away at Trump’s support among several key demographic groups. Here’s what we’ve done thus far:

How our Facebook campaign worked in the 2018 election.
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TARGETED MESSAGES FOR PARTICULAR VOTER BLOCS

Evangelical voters

We’ve completed two informative pieces about Trump’s evangelical “faith leaders,” many of who, like Trump, are con artists. We’re working on a third piece. One key figure, Paula White, introduced Trump to Jesus—at Trump Tower no less, where she owned and maybe still owns a luxury condominium. And now Trump proclaims, “I am an evangelical.” He wants us to know he is the most pious president we’ve ever had. His tear-gas-scented photo op with a Bible, his reverential musings about “the beautiful sight of packed churches on Easter Sunday,” his pumping of hydrochloroquine as “a gift from heaven,” and similar performances are best understood in that context. He knows who he has to keep in his corner.

Trump’s white, evangelical, conservative Christian base is indispensable to his reelection. Millions of “prosperity gospel” followers are told and believe that the very fact of Trump’s wealth means God is smiling on him. Given the tens of millions of unemployed people, food lines as far as the eye can see, and the looming collapse of the entire economy, at least some of these followers may be open to this question: “Is God angry at Donald Trump?”

Influencing even a few evangelicals to have second thoughts is likely to pay big dividends.

Jewish voters

We’ll also target Jewish voters in Florida. Depending on whether we can get sufficient financial support, we’ll try another battleground state as well. In Florida and several other states, the number of Jewish voters is larger than Trump’s 2016 margin of victory. His Israel policy, heavily skewed toward Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-line policies, is best understood in that context—unless you think he actually cares about the fate of Jews, Israel, or anything other than his own perceived interests. 

White working-class voters

We plan to test messages directed to white, ethnic, working-class voters. We know the pandemic is the issue, and that Democrats will rightly pound away at it. We think it’s worthwhile to test an additional approach. This is what we have in mind:

Many voters in battleground states have parents and grandparents who came to America from Eastern European countries once dominated by Russia, and before that, ravaged by the Nazis. For those families, the Cold War isn’t too distant a memory; it’s the family story, as is the Second World War. That was a time of great patriotism, when family members fought and died in the name of preserving democracy. People need to be reminded of Trump’s praise for swastika-wearing neo-Nazis as “very fine people.”

We’ve prepared an extensive piece on Trump’s pre-presidential criminal career, specifically his business model of money laundering for Russian interests. The details are hair-raising. Both Trump and “Moscow Mitch” McConnell receive support from Putin-controlled sources. We’ll test whether our presentation of that evidence resonates with at least some of those white, working-class voters. 

Every voter

As if what we already know isn’t enough to terrify the world, there’s also credible evidence that for years Trump has been crushing and snorting Adderall, cocaine—uppers, downers—etc. Impaired judgment, sleep deprivation, aggression, hostility, and so forth are well known effects of this kind of drug abuse. We’ve been witnessing it every day. And now it descends into sheer lunacy: injecting household disinfectants. We haven’t prepared any material on this aspect of Trump’s aberrant behavior as yet. If anyone wants to research this angle and draft something, we’d welcome it. 

BOTTOM LINE

We think a Facebook ad campaign organized and executed by a few ordinary people like us—apart from any official organization—is worthwhile. We’re going to do it. 

We can’t bear the prospect of sitting in front of the TV with our kids on November 3, watching the results come in, realizing we’re doomed, and regretting that we could have done more.

WHAT WE NEED FROM YOU 

We’re not asking for much right now. We’ve put a “donate” button on the Fed Up New Yorkers website. If you think the effort is worthwhile, we’ll make it simple. 

We’ve prepared enough content to get started with political ads on Facebook. We’ll have to pay Facebook, of course. We’ll probably have to get into Twitter and other platforms, too. For now, our focus is Facebook.  

Whatever monies we’re able to raise will go into Bloomberg Watch Inc. That is a corporate entity I formed years ago to self-finance a Fed Up New Yorkers monthly newspaper. As the name suggests, it was originally a purely local project during Michael Bloomberg’s mayoralty. Instead of wasting time creating a new legal entity—the kinds of things slick operatives create to take in and spend dark money—I’m going to stick with what exists now, obsolete name and all. 

We’re starting out with less than $100.00 in the Bloomberg Watch bank account. We’ll publish the numbers on a regular basis so everyone can see how we’re doing and where the money is being spent. Most of the people who get this message either know me or know someone who does. They know any money we raise will be spent exactly as I report it. You can take that to the bank.

Right now, all we ask is that you like and share this message, and maybe ask your friends to share it. It will be an endorsement to your own friends that we’re legit.  

P.S. An apology in advance: To the extent possible, we’ll consider every suggestion and every text. But we’re too stretched to provide much feedback. We have to move quickly on this. 

C’mon people—we can do this!!!!! 

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