5 Days to Go in Wisconsin
By Sarah Dohl, Indivisible chief campaigns officer
Thanks to your generosity the last time we asked you to chip in and fund our (unbudgeted!) work in Wisconsin, right now, IndivisiTexters are hard at work doing what almost no other organization in the country is doing: having conversations with Wisconsin voters about why they should support progressive candidate Janet Protasiewicz in the Supreme Court primary on February 21. At the same time those 140,000+ convos are happening, Indivisibles in Wisconsin are using our Neighbor2Neighbor doorknocking tool to talk with their neighbors about Protasiewicz, what’s at stake in this election, and how to make a plan to vote in the primary.
So, thank you. Seriously. When I say that work couldn’t have happened without your support, I mean it. And if we’re successful at preventing a progressive lockout for the two-person general election in April, it will be because of your support and the work of our incredible groups on the ground. Remember: the last Supreme Court race that took place in the Badger State during a non-presidential election year was decided by only 5,981 votes — so every conversation with a voter matters a lot.
Today, I want to talk to you transparently about the decisions that we’re wrestling with here as we get closer to the primary (and yes, I’m going to ask you to chip in to fund the work). I also want to ask you for your opinion on one of the tactics that we’re considering (seriously, I’m going to ask you to vote).
What’s at stake
Before I talk to you about our plan, I want to remind you quickly what’s at stake. Like we told you last time we spoke to you about Wisconsin, The New York Times called it “the most important election in America in 2023.” Reader, they’re not wrong.
Wisconsin has a Democratic triplex and a divided trifecta — that’s a fancy way of saying that Democrats control the offices of governor, secretary of state, and attorney general. But, the Republican party controls both chambers of the state legislature thanks to “the worst partisan-bias of any court-drawn map in the nation.”
That means a ton of decisions come down to the Supreme Court, where conservatives currently hold a 4–3 majority. They’ve picked maps that allowed Republicans to keep control over the state legislature. They’ve made it harder to vote by outlawing ballot dropboxes. They struck down a statewide mask mandate during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. And they’ve issued decisions limiting the appointment power of Democratic Governor Tony Evers.
In other words, they have a lot of power.
And later this year and into 2024, we know that they’re going to have to make even more big consequential decisions. Namely, whether Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion ban will stay in place, the future of those gerrymandered maps, and even — in the event of a contested 2024 presidential, which is a very real possibility — the winner of the election. This is where I tell you that if you’ve heard enough and are ready to chip in right now to fund this work in Wisconsin, you can click here.
What comes next + our plan to win
I’m really proud of this team and our work in the primary to elect Janet Protasiewicz — but part of my job is working with the team to think about what comes next. And what comes next is what I’m asking for your support to fund today.
What’s so hard about this work is that we can’t wait until we have all the answers to start putting the plans and infrastructure in place for the next phase of this campaign. That means we have to start making decisions about investments now to be ready to hit the ground running on February 22. What makes this even trickier is, like we told you before, we didn’t budget for a Wisconsin election program when we were putting together budgets last summer; whether or not we can do this, and just how big we’re able to go, depends on people like you believing in the work that Indivisible does to win.
So, let’s talk about our plan.
I want to hit the ground running on February 22 with a four-pronged approach to winning the general in April:
- Expand our texting program. I’d like to greenlight an additional $6,000 to text 170,000 voters about what’s at stake this election and make sure they turn out for our preferred candidate. Our universe here is unique compared to other organizations we know will be running direct voter contact programs — we’re targeting likely voters we think we can turn out if we have a conversation with those who live with unlikely voters. And we’re asking them explicitly to make sure their whole household votes to protect abortion rights and democracy in April.
- Add postcards to our plan and experiment to grow capacity in Wisconsin. Tons of Indivisible groups across the country have been in touch with their organizer asking us for postcards, postage, addresses of voters, and scripts to use when writing to Wisconsinites. While not as effective as, say, knocking doors, postcards do have a proven impact on turnout, and for groups outside of Wisconsin who want to get involved, we think it’s a great way to support the work of groups on the ground. The thing here that I’m really excited about is also experimenting a little bit — I’d love to include a direct ask in those postcard scripts for local voters who we know are with us to join their local Indivisible group. Growing groups is a priority for us — and understanding what kind of leads we can generate from something like postcarding would be great information as we think about how to scale plans to build capacity nationwide. My hope is that we can spend about $10,000 to get 11,000 postcards into the hands of groups the week after the primary.
- Provide direct financial support to Indivisible groups in Wisconsin doing the work to win. Y’all, groups on the ground in Wisconsin are hitting the ground hard to win this election that will have national consequences long after the polls close. We’d love to be able to say yes to some of their requests for direct financial support on other things they’d like to do to keep their volunteers energized and bring new activists into their groups (and look, we think they definitely deserve some pizza).
- Let you decide! Okay, here’s where I want you to weigh in. Groups in Wisconsin have asked for our help on tactics like radio and newspaper ads with a dual purpose of turning out more voters to win in April and recruiting new Indivisibles to the fight. And I want to try it. For just under $10,000, we can work hand-in-hand with local groups in Wisconsin to design and run a full-page newspaper ad or a local radio ad to turnout voters with messages about what’s at stake in this election and include a hard ask to join a local group. Just like the postcard experiment, I think there’s a lot we could learn here about recruitment as we aim to build group capacity not just in Wisconsin but across the country ahead of 2024.
So, it’s up to you (seriously). Do you think we should run a full-page newspaper ad or a radio ad to turn out voters for the Wisconsin Supreme Court election and recruit new Indivisibles to local groups?
I am really excited about this work y’all, and I think it can make a real difference in this race (remember, fewer than 6,000 votes last time!). I hope you agree, and if you have the capacity to do so, chip in now to help us stand up these programs so we can hit go the moment that we win in the primary.
If you’ve saved your information with ActBlue Express Lane, your donation to Indivisible Action will go through immediately:
Whether or not you’re able to give today, we’ll have more ways you can get involved (and we can’t wait to show you that newspaper or radio ad).
 Explainer on our Neighbor2Neighbor program on YouTube.
 A Colossol Off-Year Election in Wisconsin, by Reid J. Epstein. New York Times, 1/6/23.
 Report: Wisconsin Legislature Maps Have the Worst Partisan-Bias of Any Court-Drawn Map in the Nation, by Joy Powers. WUWM 89.7, 5/9/22.
 AG Josh Kaul asks judge not to dismiss case challenging abortion ban in Wisconsin, by Alexander Schur and Mitchell Schmidt. Wisconsin State Journal, 1/18/23.
 A field experiment on handwritten postcards in the 2022 PA Primary, Progressive Turnout Project.