Election 2016

The Progressive Candidates’ Secret: How They May Defeat Their Opponents Who Are Outspending Them By Millions

No money? No problem.

Photo Credit: Netroots Nation 2012/Marta Evry

As corporations and conservative moguls like the Koch Brothers dump millions of dollars into this year’s election season, it’s difficult for progressive candidates to stay afloat. But some may have found a secret, and it’s all about taking it back to volunteer, grassroots efforts.

On Tuesday, a campaign titled “Call Out The Vote” was launched by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee to encourage people to volunteer to make phone calls on behalf of progressive candidates. The Call Out The Vote campaign is in its third and, perhaps, most important year, as it aims to make one million calls to targeted voters on behalf of 20 progressive candidates running for the House and Senate this election season. These candidates include Elizabeth Warren, Alan Grayson and Rob Zerban, Paul Ryan’s congressional opponent.

On Tuesday, volunteers made about 20,000 calls on behalf of Alan Grayson, a progressive running for Congress in Florida’s ninth district. Grayson is a former Congressman who was defeated for re-election in 2010 by his Republican opponent.

Speaking to Call Out The Vote volunteers via conference call Tuesday, Grayson spoke about his election race:

The race is going well, and we are ahead, but we’re facing what every progressive Democrat faces, which is a dark cloud on the horizon in the form of $1 million of reserved airtime against us — all negative ads that are supposed to run until the end of October.

Grayson added that his goal was to secure his support so he doesn’t “have to worry about what might happens when that filthy, dark money comes after [him] the way it comes after just about everybody who’s a candidate these days with a conscience.”

Call Out The Vote uses a hybrid model to make its calls, as they have a paid call center they manage themselves and thousands of volunteers nationwide. Calls are run by a predictive dialer, which makes volunteering more efficient. The dialer dials multiple numbers at the same time and sorts through live pickups.

In 2010, Call Out The Vote helped save the seat of Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) when he faced a last-minute Tea Party challenge. In 2011, the campaign successfully helped recall two Republican senators after making more than 300,000 calls.

At the end of the conference call, Grayson concluded his statements by thanking volunteers.

He stated:

The Koch Brothers, they can spend millions but they have only two voice boxes. … And Karl Rove could spend his tens of millions, but he’s only got one voice also. You are our voices. … What you do is invaluable. Scientific peer review studies have shown that people pay much more attention to you than they pay to any 30-second ad that they see on TV, any ad that they hear on the radio, any literature piece they see in the mail or any robo-call. You are our most effective weapon.

Alyssa Figueroa is an associate editor at AlterNet. 

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