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The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

Unions Step Up Ground Game in Wake of Positive Poll Numbers for Senate Dems

A new independent Morning Call/Muhlenberg College Tracker poll has confirmed that Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) is now leading former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) by a

Luqman Jackson
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Oct 20, 2010

A new independent Morning Call/Muhlenberg College Tracker poll has confirmed that Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) is now leading former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) by a razor-thin margin in Pennsylvania’s Senate race. The news that the Pennsylvania Senate race is tightening comes at the same time as reports from Colorado and Illinois indicate those Senate races are likewise too close to call.

In response, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) plans to announce a $2 million election turnout push in Pennsylvania that will consist of mailings, phone-banking and canvassing. Along with the American Federation of Teachers, the SEIU is also supporting an ad in Illinois that goes after GOP Senate candidate Mark Kirk for his ties to George W. Bush. “Let’s go back in time: George Bush was president and Mark Kirk was his yes man,” the narrator says. “What did we get? The worst recession in 50 years.”

The latest labor push represents an emerging trend separating left- and right-leaning groups in this election cycle, in which labor and environmental groups have devoted substantial funds to on-the-ground organizing and canvassing efforts while conservative groups like American Crossroads have devoted nearly all their money to broadcast advertisements. The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein argues that while it might not be enough to stanch a GOP wave of money, these ground game efforts could very well prove more effective than your average ad:

In-person contact tends to be a much stronger way to persuade voters than television ads. And while the AFL-CIO is limited to talking to union members, an allied group, Working America, has the leeway to make election pitches to non-union laborers. An official with the group says they’ve knocked on “at least 700,000 doors in 13 cities and 9 states across the country” to date.

Democrats pining their electoral hopes on a fine-tuned ground game shouldn’t necessarily hold their breath. In 2006, Republican leadership made the same exact pitch as massive Democratic spending helped fulfill the narrative of massive election losses. But among top members of the Democratic Party, the hope is that direct persuasion can be an antidote not just to the massive deficit the party faces on the airwaves but also to the enthusiasm advantage held by conservatives heading into the election.

“We can make up that enthusiasm gap because we have a far better field operation than they do. And it is funded,” said a senior Democratic lawmaker. “The resources being spent outside the [Republican] party are being spent on the wrong thing… if their cavalry came in a month ago, we would have had a much harder time digging out of it.”

Luqman Jackson | Luqman Jackson is an entrepreneur, blogger and traveler. He teaches copywriting, creative discipline, and ethical marketing. For business owners who want to learn the basics of persuasive writing, she has a weekly column, a podcast, and a copywriting course.


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