MEMO: Yesterday wasn’t a “one-off,” it’s a trend

TO:                 Interested Parties

FROM:         DNC Chair Tom Perez

DATE:          March 14, 2018

RE:                Yesterday wasn’t a “one-off,” it’s a trend



Republicans spent the last 12 hours pointing fingers and spinning this historic upset in Pennsylvania as a “one-off.”  Newsflash: They’ve been losing Republican-held seats for over a year – 42 state legislative, gubernatorial, Senate, and now House seats, to be exact.


Democrats haven’t only won in blue districts, we’re winning in places like Oklahoma, Alabama, rural Iowa, and now, in a Pennsylvania district that Trump won by nearly 20 points.  That’s a scary sight for Republicans.


Republicans spent more than $10 million to defend what should have been a safe seat, and this is after pouring millions to elect an alleged child molester in Alabama. And the result was the same: they lost.


And while Republicans like to think that Conor Lamb was a “unique” situation or a “one-off,” the reality is that Conor ran on his values – the same message that has led Democrats to victory all across the country. He focused on the issues that mattered to Western Pennsylvanians – jobs, health care, and Social Security. He knocked on doors in the district he grew up in. This is all while Republicans attempted to prop up an anti-worker candidate running on a tax plan that gives corporations and the wealthiest a tax cut at the expense of American workers. Republicans’ strategy didn’t work in Pennsylvania, it hasn’t worked across the country, and it certainly won’t work in November.


Democrats win when we get on the ground early, focus on our values, and invest in and recruit strong, local candidates like Conor. That’s how we won in Pennsylvania’s 18th last night. That’s how Doug Jones won in Alabama, Ralph Northam and Justin Fairfax won in Virginia, Phil Murphy and Sheila Oliver won in New Jersey. That’s how Manka Dhingra won in Washington and Annette Taddeo won in Florida. That’s how Keisha Lance Bottoms won in Atlanta, GA and Wilmot Collins won in Helena, MT.


You better believe that we will taking this model to win up and down the ballot this year. Especially in the House – where there are 114 Republican-held seats that are more competitive than Pennsylvania’s 18th.


Strategic Investments


In 2018, we will continue to make meaningful investments in organizing, tech, and infrastructure on the ground. Since I became Chair, the DNC has made historic investments to help boost the ground game for state parties and Democratic candidates across the country.


We invested $1.5 million in Virginia; started the State Party Innovation Fund, a historic $10 million competitive grant program for state parties; implemented the Every ZIP Code Counts program, which contributes $10,000 per month to every state party; invested nearly $1 million in Alabama; and made strategic investments in mayoral and legislative races across the country.


We’re just getting started.


Ahead of yesterday’s election in Pennsylvania, the DNC helped pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into the Keystone State. This includes $220,000 in grassroots fundraising for the Lamb campaign and $150,000 in a grant and monthly contributions to the Pennsylvania Democratic Party since October. And we didn’t stop there: The DNC put our money where our mouth is and hosted phone banks, ran a voter protection hotline for the district on Election Day, and activated our networks to mobilize and donate for Conor.   


Building on Success


Over the last year Democrats have been focused on one mission: winning elections up and down the ballot. Since Trump took office, Democrats have flipped 42 seats from red to blue, including 39 state legislative seats, one governor’s seat, one Senate seat, and, after last night, one House seat. That doesn’t even account for city-level and other local races.


We knew our historic successes putting Democrats in offices up and down the ticket in 2017 were not a fluke. Since Donald Trump took office, Democrats have flipped seats across the country from red to blue, and some of these seats are in deep-red areas that Trump won by double digits in 2016. This isn’t just a trend – this is a movement.


Running on Our Values


Last night’s stunning upset was just the latest rebuke to the Trump-Republican agenda. In 2014 and 2016, Democrats didn’t even run a candidate in Pennsylvania’s 18th. Last night’s victory reminds us that our Every ZIP Code Counts strategy is a winning strategy. Recent elections have made clear that voters are fed up with Donald Trump and Republicans’ perverse policies that put the 1% ahead of middle class families at every turn. Americans are hungry for Democratic leadership, and they are showing up at the ballot box to reject the agenda Republicans like Rick Saccone are running on. 


Republicans said the Trump tax would help them win elections, but last night voters rejected their bill, which gives massive giveaways to corporations and their wealthy shareholders at the expense of American workers.


Health care was a top issue in last night’s election, and Conor Lamb won those voters by a wide margin, making it clear voters reject the Republican policies that have already left millions more Americans without health insurance and sent premiums skyrocketing.


Democrats across the country are focused on issues like health care and expanding our economy, and it’s clear that voters trust Democrats to lead on the issues that matter most to working Americans.


IWillVote: Engaging 50 Million Americans


How will we continue this momentum and win everywhere? By turning out more voters.


Over the past year, we’ve seen what a difference Democratic voter turnout can make, but we know we need to change the dialogue about voting and that turnout during the midterms is historically low. Last month, the DNC announced the launch of IWillVote,  an unprecedented new campaign with four initiatives: Commit to Vote; Voter Registration; Voter Education and Protection; and Get-Out-The-Vote. Through the IWillVote program, the DNC, in partnership with state parties and organizations, aims to reach 50 million voters from now until November to engage, educate, and mobilize them to vote for Democrats up and down the ticket.


If there’s one thing we learned last night, it’s that we can win everywhere. Whoever says that you have to either compete for white working-class voters or for communities of color is dead wrong. Last night, we won in Pennsylvania in a district that's 93% white. If there’s one thing we proved last night, it’s that we can win everywhere. It is a false choice to say that we have to focus on either white working-class voters or communities of color. The facts are clear: We can win everywhere. We are winning everywhere. We are organizing everywhere. And that's why Democrats are back.