The Intercept: The Anatomy of Changing and Expanding the Electorate for Sanders with “relational organizing”

“Jesse Jackson, during his first presidential campaign in 1984, which jump-started the progressive pushback against the rising corporate wing of the party, described unorganized potential supporters as “rocks just lying around,” sketching out a strategy to expand the electorate rather than pander to one element of it. Picking up those rocks is the driving ambition of Sanders’s second bid for the presidency, and is the cornerstone of his argument for why he will be able to win the primary and ultimately the general election against President Donald Trump.”

“… in order for a democratic socialist to win the Democratic Party’s nomination to the White House, Sanders believes he will have to do more than merely persuade a majority of the primary electorate to come out and vote for him. He’ll have to create a new electorate.”

“The goal, she said, is to find people who haven’t voted before, and make the case to them that it’s worth it. “The swing voters that we’re most concerned with are the non-voters to voters. That swing voter is going to win us this election and the general election. And so what I need everyone to do is go out and find as many of those swing voters as possible,” she said, arguing that it’s inaccurate to say that non-voters are apathetic.”

“The swing voters that we’re most concerned with are the non-voters to voters,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “What we need to communicate is that this, this year, for two days — your primary and the general — it’s worth it to believe.”

“Focusing on turnout, meanwhile, means focusing less on swing voters and more on identifying and galvanizing the campaign’s base of voters and reminding them relentlessly to vote. The usual assumption is that the voters are already supportive of the candidate’s message, they just need a nudge to get out and vote. For the Sanders campaign, that’s the wrong way to think about it.

“Turnout is persuasion,” Rast said. Nonvoters don’t vote not simply because they’re busy (which they are) or they don’t know where their polling place is (which they often don’t), but because they believe not voting is the rational choice.”

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