Beto O’Rourke’s organization, Powered by People, seeks to deliver dozens of decisive Democratic victories at every level of the ballot by making a stunning 15 million calls to Texas voters by the November election — more than half of the state’s population of 29 million.
The goal, set during a recent press conference, would nearly rival the 20 million calls O’Rourke made during his campaign for U.S. Senate in 2018. That year, the organizing infrastructure that his campaign and volunteers built led to numerous victories across the state, including flipping 12 Texas House seats, two Texas Senate seats, two Congressional seats, and dozens of judicial seats that changed the composition of four major appeals courts.
Launched in December 2019, Powered by People has successfully harnessed much of the energy O’Rourke generated in 2018 to direct thousands of volunteers to call likely Democratic voters en masse. After helping fill more than 14,000 volunteer shift hours at overwhelmed food banks in the wake COVID-19 spikes, Powered by People launched an aggressive voter registration and identification effort to reach likely Democrats.
Making calls to voters, in absence of in-person conversations, is one of the most effective ways of persuading them to vote. As Powered by People connects with voters over the phone, they share the result of the conversations they have — whether the person called has now registered to vote, and if the voter plans to vote Democratic or not — with the Texas Democratic Party and all Democratic candidates running in the state. Because candidates are unable to engage voters in person due to COVID-19 health concerns, the work Powered by People is doing now may aid campaigns in more quickly mobilizing already identified Democratic voters to the polls. This is critical work, especially given the more than half a million new registered voters — mostly Black and Brown — in Texas since November 2018.
Powered by People’s weekly virtual phone banks regularly make more than 300,000 outbound calls to likely Democrats and have garnered over 800 volunteers at a single event. Anchored as an organizing powerhouse, Powered by People has made more than 1.3 million calls to unregistered likely Democratic voters in the past two months.
To reach its goal of 15 million calls by the November 3 election, accounting for calls already made, Powered by People would need to average a staggering 3.5 million calls every month for the next four months. Campaigns tend to scale exponentially in the month and weeks leading up to election day, but the goal stands as distinctly lofty nonetheless.
Audacious goals have never stopped O’Rourke and his massive band of volunteers before, however.
Texas Democrats’ primary goal is to win a majority in the Texas House by sweeping just 9 of 22 targeted state house seats where O’Rourke won or lost within single digits in 2018. Winning a majority would also give Democrats critical leverage in the upcoming redistricting process. However, there is much more on the ballot in the nation’s largest battleground state — a U.S. Senate seat, 10 Congressional seats in districts that O’Rourke won or lost by under 3 points in 2018, and scores of judicial seats, including almost half of the Texas Supreme Court.
If O’Rourke and Powered by People are successful in making 15 million calls to Texas voters, they will undoubtedly help flip much more than just nine statehouse seats. They may very well help make history by ushering in a renewed and enduring Democratic era at all levels of the ballot in Texas.
Photo: Beto O’Rourke