Why 2019’s state elections matter for 2020 (and how we’ll win)


Did you know that 25 million people live in a state with a state house election this November? And if you live in Virginia, Louisiana, Mississippi, or New Jersey, you’re one of them!

Trump has made it crystal clear that winning these states is crucial for his path back to the White House in 2020. He’s already sent Mike Pence down to Virginia to court wealthy right-wing donors, with this message: “Tell them we think Virginia is in play and that I’m going to be there.”

That means Democrats don’t just need to hold on to blue seats in states like Virginia — to resist Trump’s 2020 intentions, we’ve got to make all our state legislatures bluer by expanding Democrats’ target map in 2019 to include traditionally red areas and fighting like hell to support the Democratic candidates who run in them.

We wanted to share with you our strategy for how we’re going to win in 2019, and where we need your help.

Special Elections

Special elections are a crucial part of how Democrats can make progress before November. In the 39 special elections so far this year, we’ve held on to important blue seats in deep-red states like Louisiana, with victories like Jeremy LaCombe’s in March. And in April, Pennsylvania Democrat Pam Iovino flipped our first red-to-blue seat of the year, putting Democrats just five seats away from flipping the entire chamber in 2020.

In the next sixty days, we’ll have special elections in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, California AND Florida. The whole country is watching Democrats’ performance in special elections as an indicator of success in 2020, and we can’t pass up this opportunity.

Looking ahead to November

There’s no such thing as an “off year.” This fall, we have the opportunity to make incredible gains in states like New Jersey and Virginia, and deep-red states like Louisiana and Mississippi. Winning in these states will not be easy. We’re looking at steep challenges from Republicans who have already invested millions into these states — but we’re still diving into this year’s general elections head-on.

In Virginia, we are only four seats away from flipping the entire legislature blue. If we pick up two seats in the House and two in the Senate, we will secure a Democratic trifecta in Virginia — flipping it blue for the first time since 1993. The districts in Virginia are tight. But there is a clear path to victory for Democrats if we take advantage of every single minute between now and Election Day.

Democrats in deep-red states like Louisiana and Mississippi are often overlooked, but we cannot let that happen this time. Republicans are close to securing a veto-proof majority in Louisiana, which would allow them to pass extreme laws and override Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards’s veto.

Spotlighting candidates

In 2017 we launched Spotlight Races, a website highlighting our exceptional candidates facing critical races across the nation. These pages allow Democrats nationwide to learn more about the state candidates that need their support, and directly donate to their campaigns. As the cycle progresses and more Democrats step up to run for their state houses, we will be highlighting more and more candidates on the Spotlight Races site.

Since the site’s launch, dozens of Spotlight candidates have gone on to win their races and represent their communities in their state legislatures. Just in Virginia, seven of our candidates flipped their districts in the 2017 election — and we flipped another 8 seats in the state House of Delegates on top of that! Our Spotlight candidates are truly on-the-ground heroes, ready to make a difference, and the whole country should know about them.

Doing the legwork

We’re committed to a multi-pronged approach when it comes to working with local Democrats to provide on-the-ground support to state legislative candidates, because we think all candidates should have the assistance they need every step of the way — not just those at the top of the ticket. Two key components of our program — training and direct service– make up a critical part of how the DLCC works to elect state Democrats all across the country. Our data, field, political, and digital teams work together to provide everything from top-notch, up-to-the-minute statistics, to running digital ads to turn out voters, to providing logistical support on the ground.

We’re also hard at work training the next generation of politicos who will dedicate themselves to working on and running campaigns all across the country, and ensuring that our candidates have the know-how and the resources to win. And it’s working: More than 400 red-to-blue flips since Trump’s election has proved that.

Highlights from our trainings and canvasses over the past year

Everything is connected

What we do together now — what you do now — matters. Every special election victory helps shape the national understanding that districts everywhere are winnable. Anything that elevates our incredible candidates and builds on-the-ground campaigns today gets us that much closer to big wins on Election Day (and in fact, what we put into the fight now probably has a bigger impact than at any point down the road because of the resonating impact of early investments).

Nothing about the fight for our nation’s future lives in a bubble. If you care about winning in November, or the fate of redistricting, or even beating Trump in 2020, then we can’t afford to let the “off year” be an “off year.” If you’re ready to help state Democrats win this year, chip in now and check out some of our 2019 candidates on races.dlcc.org.

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