Where to Give Now: October 18, 2018

A Donor’s Guide to Making Sense of the Chaos

Voters are voting! Many states have started early voting. Vote.org (which saw an incredible spike in registrations after Taylor Swift gave them a shout out in an Instagram post) has a guide to early voting in each state along with other terrific resources for voters.

We are three weeks out, coming into the home stretch. If you are planning to make additional donations, give sooner rather than later. Budgets are being finalized in the coming days. If you are making a large donation via a Donor Advised Fund or other third-party entity, make sure they know this is a rush donation and let the campaign or organization know to expect the donation. Recommendations for candidates and organizations can be found below.

We created an Election Night tracker, with top US House races, all US Senate races, all Gubernatorial races, key down-ballot races, and ballot measures listed by poll closing times. To view and follow along, email alexandra@ALadvising.com for access to our database.

US Senate

Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court caused some shifts in the US Senate map. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) appears more vulnerable while polls have narrowed in the open seats in Arizona, Nevada, and Tennessee.

The path to 51 remains narrow but do-able:

  • Protect Democratic incumbents in Florida (Bill Nelson), Indiana (Joe Donnelly), Missouri (Claire McCaskill), Montana (Jon Tester), North Dakota (Heidi Heitkamp), and West Virginia (Joe Manchin)
  • Flip Nevada (Jacky Rosen), currently held by a Republican incumbent
  • Flip open seats in Arizona (Kyrsten Sinema), Tennessee (Phil Bredesen), and Texas (Beto O’Rourke)

You can donate to these races via AL Advising’s slate on ActBlue. Joe Manchin (WV) is not included on the fundraising slate because of his vote on the Kavanaugh nomination. Phil Bredesen (TN) is included as we do not know how he actually would have voted in the moment. Beto O’Rourke is not included because he has all the money he needs!

All competitive Senate races also have joint victory funds with their respective state parties. Donation information for victory funds for Sens. Heitkamp and McCaskill are below. If you would like information for another state or candidate, please email alexandra@ALadvising.com.

US House

A blue wave is coming but it’s size is debatable. The initial Republican enthusiasm bounce post-Kavanaugh appears to be short-lived and over-powered by an increase in enthusiasm among Democrats and independent women. Yay! But we cannot take anything for granted; see the end of this document for how to volunteer.

Democrats need to net 24 seats to regain control in the US House. Republicans currently hold 241 seats and Democrats hold 194. The Cook Political Report currently
 lists 207 seats as Solid, Likely, or Lean Democratic. They list 197 seats as Solid, Likely, or Lean Republican. Pure Toss-ups number 31 (2 D, 29 R). Other prognosticators have similar numbers, although ratings on specific districts vary.

AL Advising’s 2018 analysis includes:

  • 34 Toss-up seats including 14 pure Toss-ups, 6 Toss-up/Lean D, and 10 Toss-up/Lean R
  • 11 Lean Democratic and 9 Lean/Likely R seats
  • 19 Lean Republican, 7 Lean/Likely R seats, and 23 Likely R seats

If you would like to be shared on our 2018 Elections Database to learn more, email alexandra@ALadvising.com.

You can donate to all of these US House races via AL Advising’s slate on ActBlue. Gil Cisneros (CA-39) and Scott Wallace (PA-1) are not included on the fundraising slate as they are largely self-funding their respective races.

Governor and Down-Ballot

Why care about Governors in other states? States are the laboratories of democracy and we need blue states to pass progressive legislation that not only impacts those people’s lives, but serves as an example nationally.

Perhaps the most immediate reason is the state officials elected in 2018 will be in office to oversee redistricting, the process by which we redraw congressional and state legislative districts after the 2020 census. Democrats dropped the ball in 2010 and allowed Tea Party Republicans to gerrymander states from Florida to Pennsylvania to Texas. In 35 states, districts lines are passed as partisan legislation and we therefore need to control one chamber of the state legislature and/or the Governor’s mansion to have any say over the process at all.

The top Governor’s races are:

  • Mark Begich (AK; I incumbent)
  • Ned Lamont (CT; D hold)
  • Andrew Gillum (FL; open)
  • Stacey Abrams (GA; open)
  • Fred Hubbell (IA; R incumbent)
  • Laura Kelly (KS; open)
  • Janet Mills (ME; open)
  • Steve Sisolak (NV; open)
  • Richard Cordray (OH; open)
  • Billie Sutton (SD; open)
  • Tony Evers (WI; R incumbent)

Yes, Kansas and South Dakota are competitive! You can donate to these Gubernatorial races via AL Advising’s slate on ActBlue. Ned Lamont (CT; Toss-up) is not included on the fundraising slate as he is largely self-funding his race.

Many of these states have many competitive races including “nested” races; that is, more than one overlapping geographic target such as a targeted state legislative race within a targeted congressional district or a targeted congressional district in a state with a top Senate or Governor’s race. So there’s a huge bang for the buck.

We created a slate of critical Secretary of States races in Arizona (Katie Hobbs), Colorado (Jena Griswold), Georgia (John Barrow), Iowa (Deidre DeJear), Kansas (Brian McClendon), Michigan (Jocelyn Benson) , Nevada (Nelson Araujo), and Ohio (Kathleen Clyde). You can donate to these crucial SOS races via AL Advising’s ActBlue SOS2018 slate.

Allied Organizations

Here are a few of my favorite projects, all of which need last-minute resources:

  • Movement Voter Project: MVP supports grassroots organizations in key battleground states and districts. They will give to the organizations who need it the most or you can direct funds to specific states. They also have a new Flip the Senate fund which helps direct 501c4 and 501c3 funds to the best grassroots groups in key Senate states. (Full disclosure: I am a consultant for MVP.)
  • Defeat Devin Nunes with Fight Back CA: There is a path to defeat Trump’s top apologist in Congress, Devin Nunes, in California’s 22nd congressional district. Recent polls indicate that if we can boost Democratic turnout to presidential levels and split independents 60/40 for challenger Andrew Janz, we can flip this seat. Fight Back has engaged in multiple rounds of billboards, mail, and digital ads hitting Nunes for ignoring his district. Fight Back is also running programs in the other flippable CA House races. They have a $147,000 budget gap for the next two weeks; partner organizations have a $85,000 501c3 budget gap. (Full disclosure: I am a consultant for Fight Back’s CA-22 work.)
  • The #EnoughIsEnough Voter Project is targeting six candidates who — in both public and private life — have turned against women on the issues of sexual harassment or violence against women and children. Some of these candidates are overtly misogynistic bullies. Others have been personally accused of sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment, domestic violence, and sexual abuse of teenage students by a teacher. Their time is up.

If you would like to be shared on our 2018 Elections Database, email alexandra@ALadvising.com.

Please feel to email Alexandra Acker-Lyons at alexandra@ALadvising.com with any questions.

Dork Out: Election Resources

Every year, before Election Day, friends email or text me to ask what they should be reading or tracking to be “in the know.” Here are a few of my favorites websites/apps:

And I am a huge podcast fan. Some election-related podcasts include:

  • Pod Save America
  • FiveThirtyEight Politics
  • Slate’s Political Gabfest
  • House Talk with Ali and Liesl
  • The Pollsters
  • Ken Rudin’s Political Junkie
  • Politico’s Nerdcast
  • Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire


How to be a good volunteer:

  • First, do no harm. Don’t embarrass the candidate, yell at a Trump voter, cause a computer meltdown, etc.
  • Trust the field. This is a campaign mantra. The staff may not be perfect but they more know than you do and they are trying to execute a plan.
  • Ask before posting anything on social media.
  • Bring healthy snacks. Campaigns survive on pizza and bagels so anything healthy is always welcome.
  • Don’t take it personally. Staff are overextended and exhausted. They’re doing their best.
  • Get to know the state/district/city. Ask questions about top issues, what local initiatives may be on the ballot, the candidate’s personal story and bio, etc. Try to do some research ahead of time.
  • You’re there to help — so be helpful! Does the trash need to be taken out? Do they need more bottled water for volunteers? Mind-numbing data entry done? Take the initiative and jump in.
  • There’s a lot you can do from home! See below and try out whether you like phone banking, texting, or postcarding.

Volunteer from Home

  • Swing Left. Control of the House in 2018 will be decided by a small number of Swing Districts, places where the last election was decided by a thin margin. Join your closest Swing District team to hear about things you can do to support Democrats — and defeat Republicans — in that district, no matter where you live. You can phone bank from home or canvass in a nearby congressional district.
  • NextGen America’s Blue Wave. Text voters (with an emphasis on young voters) in swing states and districts across the country.
  • Sister District. Sister District focuses on critical down-ballot, state races. We organize volunteers into local teams based on where they live, and “sister” this deep blue energy with swing districts across the country to support strategic state races that matter.
  • Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). This tool connects you to your nearest swing districts for phone banking, in-person volunteering, training, and more.
  • Democratic National Committee (DNC). This tool lets you pick the type of activity and narrow by location. You can choose a national text or phone bank for a campaign anywhere in the country or find a local event or campaign.

Mobilize Your Network

  • Voter Circle. Use Facebook and texting to connect with your friends across the country to make sure they are registered to vote and know who to vote for!
  • VoteWithMe. Contact your friends and family to see who lives in a swing district or state. Even if all your close friends are already voting Democratic, think about your non-immediate family members and Facebook friends.