- The Washington Times - Monday, December 9, 2019

A Democratic turnout operation on Monday announced a $45 million plan to get Democratic voters in 16 battleground states to the polls in 2020.

The Progressive Turnout Project is a massive effort that will include 1,100 staffers spread across 66 field offices nationwide.

“We don’t waste money on TV ads, direct mail or anything else that’s just white noise to most voters,” Alex Morgan, the group’s executive director, said in a statement. “We focus our efforts on what works best — multiple in-depth conversations with voters who are disillusioned with politics as usual. Democrats haven’t been doing a good job of speaking to them on an intrinsic level beyond broad party platitudes, and Progressive Turnout Project is aiming to change that.”

Rather than focus on independent-minded swing voters, the Progressive Turnout Project is looking to expand the base in crucial states nationwide, particularly 2.6 million voters it has identified in the Rust Belt and more than 4 million voters in the South.

By Election Day, the group estimates it will have knocked on 7.1 million doors. Field training for its staffers begins in February and the operation gets under way in May.

“For some of these voters, if you show up at their door only every four years, they’ll rightfully say, ‘You’re only here for my vote. Where are you the rest of the time?’” spokeswoman Kait Sweeney said in an interview. “With the Progressive Turnout Project, we’re not candidate-focused … so it allows us to build a relationship with these folks.”

Ms. Sweeney said the group’s goals in 2020 are two-fold: taking back the Senate and creating as many pathways to Democratic victory through the Electoral College as possible.

Ms. Sweeney said the group estimated it successfully boosted turnout 10.4% in the 2018 midterm elections among infrequent Democratic voters. By getting started early for next year, the group is hoping to develop a base that can rival Mr. Trump’s effort.

The Trump campaign and Republican Party apparatus make a habit of not sharing their voter turnout endeavors. Mr. Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, often tweets some data collected by Mr. Trump’s team at his rallies, such as identifying 31,177 potential voters at a Broward, Florida, rally late last month and tracking 53,985 potential voters at a Trump rally in Texas in October.

Mr. Parscale tweeted that 12% of those identified at the Texas rally had not voted in the previous four elections.

The 2020 elections are expected to bring record-high turnout.

University of Florida political science professor Michael McDonald likened the anticipated turnout to a potential “100-year storm for turnout,” in an interview with The New York Times.

Talk of rare record-high voter turnout has strategists on both sides of the aisle mobilizing early to get their candidates in front of voters early. The Progressive Turnout Project expects to endorse its largest slate of candidate endorsements ever in January.

The 16 states the project is targeting include: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Wisconsin.

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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