I'm on the mailing list for MoveOn.org, a progressive organization outside any single campaign. It is good to hear bits of news about progressives, though for the last month their emails have been almost exclusively "urgent" requests to contribute money to their campaign assistance efforts. Some days I would get 2-3 donation requests and then perhaps a repeat – hey, did you see my note? The tone of the messages have been either dire warnings or exclamations that we're really close – maybe 8-9 Senate races within the margin of error.
Amongst my web browsing this week I came across this: Sean McElwee, in an article posted on Huffington Post, explains why voter turnout efforts matter in four charts. The first chart shows voter turnout by income over the previous 3 elections. Even in 2008 (the highest turnout of the three) only 48% of those who earned less than $10,000 a year voted. The participation rate increased steadily for rising income. Only 71% of those with an income in the $50-75,000 range participate. But 98% of those who are in the 1% of the wealthiest vote.
The second and fourth charts shows nonvoters are more likely support liberal causes than voters. The third shows that those who vote tend to favor lower taxes while those who aren't registered to vote tend to favor more government services. Conclusion: Increasing voter turnout "is an important first step toward a more equal democracy and would bring force politicians to consider the interests of low-income voters."
Then there is this tidbit: The number of billionaires globally has more than doubled between March 2009 and March 2014. There are now 1645 of them. And the top 85 have collectively seen their wealth increase by $668 million a day (that works out to about 7.8 million a day each). By my calculation that means it takes them about four hours to earn the maximum they are allowed to give directly to House and Senate races every two years.
So when MoveOn.org started sending out requests for Get-Out-The-Vote efforts I paid attention. This afternoon I took part in a phone bank to urge progressive voters in Kentucky to turn out to defeat Mitch McConnell. I called them for a 15 minute training session. Then through their online hub they called me and used a dialing program to connect me to those registered to vote. As each call went through, and after the system (at least tried to) verify it wasn't an answering machine I was connected and a script popped up on my computer complete with voter's name. Hopefully, they would promise to vote. Many times they refused the call in some manner. Saturday afternoon must not be a good time to call. That got discouraging after a while, even though I'm one to not talk to political people on the phone. Once I indicated on the website what happened during the call I clicked on a button to say I was ready for the next call. Then I waited, sometimes for more than a half minute for their system to find a live person for me to talk to. That gave me time to clean out my email imbox Over about 90 minutes I had at least 35 calls (I may have missed tallying a few). The MoveOn site tallies over 4 million calls have been made, over 200,000 calls during my 90 minute effort.
You can do this too. They will continue calling through Tuesday.