GBAO approaches state legislative campaigns with intense client focus and a strategy tailored to each state and each race. We take on a limited number of caucuses because winning requires attention to details, not cookie cutter research. Our approach is best exemplified by our work in Oregon.
The Oregon House Democratic Caucus (FuturePAC) approached us after a disastrous 2010 cycle in which Democrats lost their majority and were defeated in nearly every competitive seat. At the same time, the Oregon Senate Democratic Caucus (Senate Democratic Leadership Fund) re-hired us after faring better in 2010 than the House.
We started by studying the districts very carefully and then interviewing every candidate. We worked with the talented caucus staff in both chambers to target the right races – not chasing pipe dreams and not sinking too much money into defending districts we were confident we would win. We worked with great candidates and consultants to develop individual strategies for each campaign.
Ultimately we went from a 30-30 tie in the House to a 34-26 Democratic advantage. At the same time, we maintained our 16-14 advantage in the Senate, successfully defending every vulnerable Democrat.
Democrats struggled throughout most of the country in 2014, suffering losses at every level. Yet in one state, Democrats expanded their majority in both the state Senate and state House: Oregon. We built on our experience in 2012 to gain 2 seats in the Senate, expanding our majority to a veto-proof 18-12, and gain 1 seat in the House, expanding our majority to 35-25.
How did we do it? There were 4 key pieces to the puzzle:
1. Progressives ran a vigorous voter registration program. We knew that the pool of voters in a mid-term election would be a challenge, especially in a tough year like 2014. So we expanded the pool through hard work and a well-tested registration program.
2. We used sophisticated targeting to focus on the right districts. Through a combination of statistical modeling and polling, we targeted the right districts and prioritized them accordingly.
3. We provided individual strategies for each candidate. As in 2012, we gave each race the attention it deserved and developed tailored strategies.
4. We carried an overarching economic narrative. Across most of the country in 2014, Democrats failed to offer a clear and compelling economic narrative. Our campaigns in Oregon offered actual policies to address wage stagnation, gender inequality, degradation of workplace protection, and economic opportunity.