Oregon Democrats had an overwhelmingly successful 2018 election cycle.
In the first half of the year, we worked with partners to defeat Measure 101 and we elected a Democrat to serve as Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries. In November, we re-elected Governor Brown by seven percentage points against a candidate with a war chest funded by the largest donations ever made to a candidate, more than $2.5 million from Nike founder Phil Knight. Further down the ticket, Democrats secured supermajorities in both the state House and Senate, picking up three seats in the House and one in the Senate. The DPO was also part of a hugely successful coalition that had a clean sweep of ballot measure victories. We protected our Democratic congressional delegation and had the strongest showing by a Democrat in Congressional District 2 in more than 20 years.
DPO Coordinated Campaign
As always, our success was due in large part to our efforts on the ground. In the last ten days of GOTV alone, we worked with more than 30 partner groups, to send 861,919 texts, make 91,821 dials, and knock 386,193 doors in 10 days. Collectively, we knocked, called and texted the equivalent of 85% of projected Oregon voters and our unified offices launched 4,593 volunteer shifts in the final stretch.
Our campaign operation was statewide and diverse. We maintained coordinated campaign offices and staff in all five of Oregon’s congressional districts, including two rural coordinators in CD 2 and millennial organizers in Multnomah and Lane Counties.
Our campaign mail program built off the successes of 2014 and 2016, providing a cost-effective outreach strategy to supplement other voter outreach efforts. Working with four different mail vendors, the DPO created 108 unique mail pieces to reach Oregon voters. In total, we sent 1,408,436 mailers in support of the Governor’s race, 11 Oregon House campaigns, and three Oregon Senate campaigns.
The DPO is uniquely positioned to deliver GOTV mail to Oregon voters. We sent three GOTV mail pieces across the state to newly registered and Democratic-leaning voters with messaging focused on their obligation to vote as a civic duty.
Overall, the DPO sent out 596,661 GOTV mail pieces, whose recipients had a 3.28% higher turnout than the Oregon average in the 2018 general election.
Online Slate Card
For the November 2018 General Election, the DPO worked with BallotReady to create a standalone website where a user could input their voting address and be shown a list of the registered Democrats listed on their ballot. They could also use the tool to find the nearest ballot drop boxes to the address they entered, and could sign up to receive automatic emails and texts at key deadlines ahead of Election Day.
Between the site’s launch in mid-October and Election Day, the Voter Guide had 4,448 users, 5,786 sessions, and 6,703 pageviews. Based on the Voter Guide dashboard built for us by BallotReady we know that 46% of the sessions were on mobile, 45% were on desktop, and 9% were on tablets.
In 2018, the DPO coordinated campaign launched an outreach program specifically targeting diversity and inclusion. With support from the DNC, we hired two Constituency Organizing staff who:
- Held 21 Targeted Voter Contact Events toward women, non-English speakers, and people of color.
- Recruited almost 500 Volunteer shifts from these events alone.
- Completed 16,840 door knocks in the cycle.
- Made 5,935 Bilingual Spanish/English dials in the final 10 days of the election alone.
- Created 26 multilingual materials.
Additionally, these organizers streamlined the process of identifying eight different languages used by Oregon voters and cultivated a bloc of 80 bilingual volunteers to contact non-English speaking voters and support our Election Protection Program.
In the 2018 Coordinated Campaign the DPO put on our first-ever action calls, featuring statewide activists and leaders. More than 600 people participated in these calls, which included strategic information and calls to action.
- Oregon Defends Reproductive Health Equity — Featuring Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici and Leaders of the Reproductive Rights Movement.
- Fighting for Oregon’s Working Families — Featuring Senator Elizabeth Warren, Governor Kate Brown, and Leaders of the Labor Movement.
- Blue Wave: Rise and Organize — Featuring Senator Ron Wyden, Congressman Earl Blumenauer, and Jessica Post (Executive Director of the DLCC).
- Supporting Oregon’s Immigrant Families — Featuring Senator Jeff Merkley, Congressman Kurt Schrader, and Andrea Williams (Executive Director of CAUSA).
Research & Tracking
In Spring 2018, the DPO hired a field researcher to do opposition research and tracking of Republican candidates. The researcher captured and transcribed hundreds of hours of content from events across Oregon. This position also closely monitored conservative radio and online message boards, providing valuable intelligence on opposition activities. Working with a volunteer network across the state, the researcher was able to track events on the Republican campaign trail effectively and thoroughly.
The Democratic Party of Oregon provided Operational and Logistical staffing for the 2018 Coordinated Campaign’s statewide offices, including managing supplies and technology assets, human resources, and critical support for field staff and leadership in the final 10 day GOTV push.
In 2018 the DPO provided direct support in a number of targeted elections and races.
CD 2 Support
The DPO made many contributions to support the Jamie McLeod-Skinner (JMS) campaign for Congressional District 2 in 2018. Examples include:
- Creation and promotion of a nominee fund (“www.repealwalden.com”) that distributed more than $4,000 distributed to JMS following her primary win
- Providing in-kind access to the VAN and the DPO Voter File, worth $2,500
- This included voter IDs, 5 voter file updates adding 38,214 new registrants and 200,352 new cell phone numbers, and 14 nightly matchbacks marking off Democrats who already voted so the campaign could focus on critical GOTV targets.
- DPO Fundraising emails directly for JMS, raising more than $8,100
- Ongoing communications campaign against Greg Walden and supporting JMS in DPO press, emails, talking points and social media posts to our networks on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
- Event exposure, bringing DPO Chair Jeanne Atkins to Bend for a primary night celebration and a Unity Event the following day.
- Nine county East Oregon tour by DPO Chair Atkins with follow-up letters-to-the-editor in support of JMS in multiple local papers.
- We integrated JMS efforts into DPO Neighborhood Leader Program in nine CD 2 counties building a strong voter ID and GOTV canvassing program. More than 650 Neighborhood Leaders in CD2 knocked on the doors of 32,711 voters, directly contacting 15,245 voters.
- Hiring two DPO Coordinated Campaign Staff in CD2, paired with a final 10 Campaign Office with coalition support completed 14,133 additional voter contacts.
- Included JMS candidate information on Coordinated Campaign door hangers.
- Provided logistical support in the form of ordering and coordinating campaign material and supplies.
- Sending 3 rounds of DPO Get-Out-The-Vote mail into CD 2, totaling 138,521 direct mail pieces designed to turn out key targeted voters — including low turnout Democrats, youth and new registrants.
- Provided VAN help and technical support to JMS campaign staff, volunteers and field teams, conducted 5 webinars and multiple in-person trainings for JMS staff and volunteers, focusing focused on targeting voters, navigating our voter file, creating virtual phone banks, cutting turf, canvassing and volunteer management
- Supported JMS phonebanks and canvasses held across Oregon with in-person and over the phone support and troubleshooting.
The DPO contribution to the JMS campaign was key to the milestones reached on election night. While we were not able to defeat Walden, JMS had the best showing for a Democrat in two decades, winning one of Oregon’s fastest-growing counties, Deschutes, and winning overwhelmingly in Hood River County, Walden’s home turf.
BOLI Race Support
The election for the new Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries was held in May 2018, with Democrat Val Hoyle winning more than 50 percent of the vote and avoiding a run-off election in November 2018. The BOLI Commission race is non-partisan, so there is no party primary to select a nominee. Following the filing deadline, two Democrats and one Republican field for the position. One of the Democrats later dropped out of the race, giving the DPO latitude to assist in Hoyle’s campaign. We jumped into action, prominently featuring Commissioner Hoyle at our Wayne Morse Dinner, sending out action alerts and promotional emails for the race, and helping define the opposition through media outreach.
Initiatives — January Special Election
Following successful efforts by Republicans to refer to the voters funding approved by the Democrat-led Legislature in 2017, Oregon held a special election on January 23rd, 2018 to protect Medicaid funding for low-income Oregonians and children. The DPO supported a “Yes” vote on Measure 101. During the campaign in support of Measure 101, the DPO mobilized the Neighborhood Leader Program to knock on more than 31,000 doors across the state. More than 1 million voters, or about 40 percent of Oregonians who are registered to vote, participated in the special election to approve up to $320 million in health care taxes. Approximately 62 percent supported the measure and 38 percent voted “No.”
Initiatives — November General Election
The SCC met in August 2018 to make endorsements for and against the five statewide ballot measures approved for the November 2018 ballot. Following the DPO’s endorsements, we worked in partnership with the corresponding campaigns to provide support including, but not limited to: promoting campaign messaging on DPO social media accounts, providing field support through the DPO’s Neighborhood Leader program, finding DPO members to submit letters to the editor, and participating in measure coalition meetings. Additionally, the Party designed and distributed more than 20,000 fliers and shared an online graphic that clearly laid out the party’s endorsements on the ballot measures and was replicated by many partner organizations.
The results of all five measures were consistent with the DPO’s endorsements:
Removes restriction that affordable housing projects funded by city and county bonds must be government owned
DPO Recommendation: YES
Type: Legislative Referral
Results: YES 56%/ NO 43%
The campaign for Measure 102, Yes for Affordable Housing, was run concurrently with the campaign in support of Measure 29-199 a Metro bond that will fund affordable housing. Both measures were approved by voters. Measure 102 creates a constitutional change and was referred to voters by the 2017 Legislature.
Bans taxes on groceries
Type: Citizen Initiative
DPO Recommendation: NO
Results: YES 42%/ NO 57%
Despite huge spending by large grocers, Measure 103 was defeated by voters. The campaign against Measure 103 was led by Defend Oregon.
Defines raising revenue for the 3/5ths vote requirement for bills raising revenue
Type: Citizen Initiative
DPO Recommendation: NO
Results: YES 34%/ NO 65%
Largely funded by the Oregon Association of Realtors, Priority Oregon, and other business organizations, Measure 104 was soundly defeated by voters. The campaign against Measure 104 was led by Defend Oregon.
Repeals law forbidding state resources from being used to apprehend persons violating federal immigration laws
Type: Citizen Referendum
DPO Recommendation: NO
Results: YES 36%/ NO 63%
Oregonians United Against Profiling led the campaign to prevent the repeal of Oregon’s sanctuary law status. The DPO took a position against this measure on June 2017, when it was under circulation as IP 22. Following this 2017 resolution, the DPO joined the One Oregon coalition and participated in preparing for the campaign to defeat the measure.
Prohibits public funds from being spent on abortions
Type: Citizen Initiative
DPO Recommendation: NO
Results: YES 35%/ NO 64%
The No Cuts to Care campaign, led in large part by NARAL and Planned Parenthood, led the campaign to defeat Measure 106. The measure was soundly defeated.
Local Election Project
The Local Election Project (LEP) is a training program designed and marketed to Democratic candidates running for local office, such as school boards, fire districts, city council, and county commissions. These races are almost exclusively non-partisan, but provide the entry point for many people seeking office for the first time. Democrats serving in these positions are often the first place people look to recruit for legislative races.
In 2017, across the state, the DPO worked to support 85 local candidates, with 59 of those candidates winning office. Overall, more than 50 candidates, potential candidates, supporters, and county party officers attended in-person or webinar trainings hosted by the LEP.
In 2018, across the state, the DPO helped our counties support 94 local candidates supported by county parties, with 53 winning their races. In addition to training 18 first-time candidates and staff, we provided ongoing support and mentoring for county party leadership on VAN authorization policies and endorsement guidelines and policies.
The DPO Election Protection Program (EPP) was created in 2006 with the mission to ensure that every Democratic vote is counted according to Oregon election law and regulations. The main work of the EPP, in coordination with the Oregon Democratic Lawyers Committee and partnership with our county Democratic Parties, is recruiting, training, and managing volunteer election observers, who monitor the election activities of their county elections offices and report to the DPO. The EPP also maintains, staffs, and supports the Election Protection Hotline, which is promoted to members of the public to help those encountering problems with ballot access, voter registration, or other impediments to voting. The EPP also provides training and advice for Democratic candidates and issue campaigns that are involved in races in which close results may present opportunities to defend a victory or challenge an apparent loss.
The EPP does not participate in non-statewide elections, and was not deployed in 2017, although DPO staff and the Oregon Democratic Lawyers Committee were available to county parties and Democratic candidates who had questions about election processes and integrity.
In 2018, the DPO EPP recruited 245 volunteer election observers in 30 counties — representing 99.2 percent of all registered Oregon voters — to monitor the November General Election. The Election Protection Hotline logged 77 phone calls, and EPP staff facilitated resolutions for 87 percent of the voters who called.
DPO staff conducted two statewide training webinars for volunteer election observers, while also promoting and providing access to the DPO training video library. DPO staff also contributed an Election Protection Program training module for all regional directors and field staff from the Coordinated Campaign, FuturePAC, and SDLF.
Eight days after the election, the DPO worked with the Secretary of State’s office to obtain a statewide list of all ballots in need of remedy. Campaigns could then use this list to contact voters whose ballots had been set aside for signature issues, in order to encourage them to remedy those issues so that their votes could be counted. The list was given to the Eddy Morales, Shannon Corr, and Chrissy Reitz campaigns — races where the margins were very slim and could by swung by a small number of voters. In addition to helping with the on-the-ground effort, the EPP provided training and advice for the Morales and Coor campaigns in their successful efforts to secure election wins.
During the 2017-2018 Cycle the DPO facilitated several nominating conventions to fill vacancies in the legislature or on the ballot. These nominating conventions require extensive work to ensure fair processes and communication with Precinct Committee Persons, as well as coordination with county parties and local government. The vacancies filled in this cycle included House District 38 (Legislative Vacancy), Senate District 19 (Legislative Vacancy), Senate District 1 (Ballot Vacancy), House District 1 (Ballot Vacancy), House District 26 (Ballot Vacancy), and Senate District 13 (Ballot Vacancy).