How the Left Plans to Win Wisconsin in 2016

Wisconsin, a battleground presidential swing state and home to one of the hottest U.S. Senate races of 2016, is in the crosshairs of no less than three national liberal organizations who have already laid out a strategy for how they plan to win in November. The strategy specifics are no secret thanks to some leaked documents and a couple of generally overlooked news stories that appeared on national news sites.

Planned Parenthood, the national abortion provider and abortion rights advocate, the Working Families Party (and its political action arm Working Families Organization), and the Center for Popular Democracy Action have all listed Wisconsin as a targeted state. The groups’ collective goal isn’t to just turn out voters and win the U.S. Senate race for their preferred candidate, but also lay a foundation for capturing the state legislature ahead of the 2020 census and the redistricting process that will follow.

In early May, Lachlan Markay of the Washington Free Beacon reported that the Center for Popular Democracy’s “dark money” arm is preparing a nearly $7 million effort to conduct voter identification and voter turnout operations in key states. CPD is partnering with the relatively new Working Families Party and its “dark money” 501(c)4 arm for the project.

Markay’s story also included internal documents he obtained that reveal the size and scope of the initiative. The Center for Popular Democracy Action and the Working Families Organization intend to network and integrate their own efforts and coordinate and align the efforts of numerous state and local partner groups who will participate in the voter operation. In an effort to identify and turn out at least 179,000 voters, the various organizations will use issues as well as candidates to motivate voters.

A document that outlines the plan lists climate and green energy issues, debt-free college, a $15 an hour minimum wage, expanded Social Security, affordable childcare and paid sick days as the issues that will be used to excite potential voters. “We found consistent support for this narrative and set of issue priorities across the [Rising American Electorate], without significant variance by race, income, age or marital status,” the groups explain. The Working Families Party also claims it is working on an effort to connect climate change issues to racial justice issues.

In Wisconsin, the CPDA affiliate is Wisconsin Jobs Now while the Working Families Organization also maintains a state-level organization led by former Milwaukee County Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic. The two entities plan on securing 30,000 “pledge to vote cards” at a total cost of $856,500.

The pledge cards will be gathered by a cohort of paid neighborhood organizers who will repeatedly touch base with individual voters both in-person and via text message to remind them of their pledge to vote. An example pledge card features the name of a candidate and the statement “I pledge to vote for” and the candidate’s name. The card is to be mailed by the organizations back to the voter ahead of the election as a personalized reminder. It will also feature “social pressure language” to motivate the voter to actually cast a ballot.

According to the internal document published by Markay, the joint initiative is set to kick into gear around Labor Day, but that doesn’t mean the state affiliates of the project aren’t already at work. The Working Families Party boasts in the document that it has a state director, a deputy director and a field director managing no less than 20 paid canvassers in Milwaukee. The Wisconsin arm of WFP is also working closely with SEIU Healthcare, AFSCME, 9to5, Milwaukee Teachers Association, and Voces de la Fronterra.

The Center for Popular Democracy takes credit for helping the SEIU launch Wisconsin Jobs Now, and praises WJN head Martha de la Rosa for the non-binding – and meaningless – advisory ballot referendum on a minimum wage increase. The referendum appeared on ballots in targeted Wisconsin cities during the 2014 election.

Each voter contact recorded by the groups will be logged in a database managed by either NationBuilder or VAN, two popular left-of-center voter management software applications. The second program is the latest successor to the successful voter database and contact program run by the Obama for America campaign.

CPD and WFP hope to lure into a relationship as Election Day draws near. The older organization could help channel volunteers and voter data to the two groups that are engaged in the get-out-the-vote program.

Although not formally a part of the sophisticated coalition, Planned Parenthood is also targeting Wisconsin with its grassroots political machine. According to the liberal website Think Progress, Planned Parenthood plans on dumping $20 million into key U.S. Senate races, and one of their targeted states is Wisconsin.

In mid-May, the abortion giant held a massive volunteer training in Pennsylvania with Planned Parenthood activists from all over the country. “This was, I believe, the largest volunteer training we’ve ever had in the history of Planned Parenthood,” Cecile Richards, the group’s leader, told Think Progress. The group specifically notes that while flipping control of the House of Representatives remains out of reach, they are confident they can help Democrat Hillary Clinton win the White House and help Democrats gain control of the U.S. Senate. The voter data gleaned from the effort will then be applied in future years to help Democrats gain control of state legislatures, the article noted.

Just how successful these various efforts by the Left will be in Wisconsin and other battleground states remains to be seen. But one thing is certain: if conservative political groups don’t provide a powerful counter-punch, a win by liberal Democrats in numerous elections is a foregone conclusion.

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Brian Sikma

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