Neighborhood Organizing Matters: California Calls Anchors Boosts voter turnout in their areas by 10-15 Points

California Calls has completed an analysis of the results of the November 2010 Election, and the headlines are impressive. Turnout among all occasional voters – people who typically don’t vote in state Elections – was on par with turnout of all voters at 59%, but among the alliance’s identified supporters, turnout was 67% — an 8 point increase.

Other hopeful signs of the impact of California Calls’ organizing:

1. Young people vote when they are contacted. The Alliance increased voter turnout among 18-24 year olds by 9 points, and 25-34 year olds by 11 points.

2. Immigrants and people of color identified by the Alliance as supporters of tax and fiscal reform voted 14 and 15 points higher than their average statewide average, respectively.

Five million more people voted in the November 2008 Federal Elections than in the November 2006 Statewide Election. The Alliance‘s central strategy is to convince 15% of these “occasional” voters in 12 key counties to vote consistently with California Calls. Those voters are newly registered voters, young people, immigrants and people of color who typically don’t vote but were inspired by the possibility of change in 2008.

The Alliance’s November 2010 program was its largest yet — 27 individual organizations recruited 1800 grassroots leaders to knock on doors and phone voters in 10 counties throughout the state. After 6 weeks, California Calls made 226,110 contacts to 174,084 individuals, and identified 124,982 supporters of its agenda.

California bucked the national trend last fall, with progressives winning all major statewide offices. One clear explanation for the results in California is the hundreds of thousands of new voters of color who voted. For a breakdown of the 2010 electorate, click here.

New Power, New Coalitions: California Calls Convenes 2011 Collaborative Strategy Sessions

“We hang together or we hang apart…”

– Benjamin Franklin

California Calls believes that coalition-building is an essential component to winning progressive reform.  One of California Calls’ key strategies for “tipping point” change is to assemble a vibrant mosaic of groups and networks from different sectors that collaborate over the long haul with increasing synergy and clout.  Toward that end, the first of three all-day strategy sessions planned for 2011 was held January 27 in South LA, hosted by alliance anchor group, SCOPE.   The goals were to develop a shared analysis of the statewide political and policy landscape, particularly as shaped by the November election, and to generate active collaboration for long term solutions and strategies to the state’s Tax and Fiscal crisis.

Nearly 70 individuals from 44 groups participated, representing unions, health and human services networks, single-issue advocacy organizations, and faith-based networks, along with California Calls member groups. Clarity of purpose and a strong spirit of trust were in the house. “The day was productive and invigorating,” said one consumer advocate: “The many brilliant young leaders kept me there all day!” A union leader noted the “unusually honest and enlightening dialogue” between labor and community groups. Three main proposals emerged from the January session:

1. Develop a common vision, values and long term agenda to solve the state’s tax and fiscal dysfunction;

2. Share best strategic communication practices and thinking toward shifting public opinion about the role of government and taxes;

3. Organize a united progressive movement effort around the potential Special Election.

Currently, California Calls is shifting its policy development efforts into high gear, leading to a second strategy session in July focused on how to close the $28 Billion Budget Gap. The state policy debate is teetering on a narrow political axis, with momentum growing for ideas such as “realignment” (shifting current state responsibilities to local government, but leaving the question of systemic funding sources to support these responsibilities unanswered), and a flat tax system (with the acknowledgment that such a system is regressive).  There is a disturbing trend to ignore equity issues in these policy conversations. California Calls, in coalition with our allies around the state, will work to insert progressive alternatives based on social justice and equity into the public debate.

Inspiring a Generation and Building Regional Power

Over the last four months, California Calls has been conducting training, coaching and regional sessions with anchors to update the equation for building statewide power.

Beginning in February, alliance staff met with anchors to assess who really makes decisions in their neighborhoods and cities and how their organizing could give neighborhood leaders from low-income communities of color a seat at the table. Having a clear, coherent analysis of the political landscape in their regions will give anchors a clear picture of where they should be organizing to best achieve their goals and how to build coalitions with like-minded organizations.

The regional organizing sessions pushed anchors to determine how best to engage the thousands of voters who were inspired to vote 2008, but don’t normally vote in statewide elections. Through the process, anchors took the long-view, and considered not what it would take to influence the next election, but what it would take to influence a new generation of leaders.