2020 Initial Priority State Targets
Announcing our initial list
There are 7,383 state legislative seats in the United States. State Houses and State Senates govern the daily policy that affects our daily lives – on healthcare, guns, education, women's right to choose and much more. In most states, legislatures draw the lines of U.S. House districts, setting the stage for control of that chamber through 2032. For these reasons, Tech for Campaigns focuses its efforts on flipping state legislatures blue.
With these critical issues on the line, a coming redistricting process in 2022, and a dizzying array of thousands of elections next year, focus is a strategic imperative for TFC.
As of August 2019, TFC has completed 338 projects for 189 campaigns, including a major and ongoing deployment to Virginia in 2019, where the State House and State Senate are both two seats away from flipping control this November.
We’re ready to continue scaling our work, and super excited to announce our 2020 state legislative priority list.
The priority list
Chambers in these states fit into three categories: flips, which show potential of changing control either in 2020 or 2022; defends, which have vulnerable Democratic majorities; and supermajorities, which are states where Republican legislators hold enough control to totally shut out Democratic input into budgets. (As we’ve written before, supermajorities are otherwise known as where “terrible things flourish.”)
This is an initial list; key to the TFC model is working to create partnerships and find opportunity with state legislative caucus partners, and as these conversations continue, we’ll update our broader community.
How we choose
For federal and statewide races, there are no shortage of district-level predictions available from outlets like FiveThirtyEight – but for state legislatures, there is no public list. As in 2018, to guide our efforts, we needed to establish our own point of view and framework — and data was core to doing it.
Beginning in 2017, a team of TFC data scientists began to gather data from a variety of formats across government and commercial/nonprofit sources, normalize it, and use features like demographics, past election results, and incumbency to predict Democratic and Republican results in thousands of state legislative districts across the country.
This project provides Tech for Campaigns with a single baseline to evaluate and prioritize, not just individual races, but entire state legislative chambers where we can help change electoral outcomes. This is the first step, we then talk with the state parties, caucuses and the like and begin to layer in qualitative assessments. These insights powered TFC strategy in 2018, 2019, and are continuing to do so in the run up to 2020.
A huge thank you to the many TFC volunteers that have contributed and are currently contributing in our Build The List data science and engineering effort — this process would not have been possible without your hard work. (And a big shout-out to the open source OpenElections project for continuing to push to structure and normalize the incredibly messy and disparate precinct-level election results found in all 50 states.)
Let's drive real change in 2020
From 2009 to 2017, as shown above, Democrats lost a huge number of state government bodies. In 2018, Democrats partially rolled back those losses, gaining control of a net 13 chambers across the country. (We're hoping to add two more from Virginia in November 2019!).
For 2020, there's so much work left to do to finish the job. We’re hungry, excited, and ready to go!
If you’re considering becoming a TFC volunteer, sign up now to be the first to hear as projects start up.
If you are a candidate or on a campaign and would like to chat about becoming part of TFC’s efforts in these states, please let us know.
If you're interested in talking about one of the states on the list or adding a state, please reach out.