What We Do After the Debate

Indivisible Guide
6 min readJun 28, 2024


By Ezra Levin, Indivisible Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director

Screengrab via NBC News

I’ve timed this newsletter to come after our movement’s Weekend of Action around the Dobbs anniversary this week, and after the first presidential debate last night. This is a rapid response newsletter, so let’s get right to it the News, the Brag, and the Discussion.

The News: That debate…oof.

Here’s my personal opinion on the debate: Biden turned in a terrible performance and Trump was an unhinged, nonsensical, lie-spewing, convicted felon who refused to accept the last election results or the next one. It was painful to watch.

But here’s the thing: Ultimately my personal opinion on this doesn’t matter. I know who I’m voting for. You know who you’re voting for. We don’t need convincing. The question is what impact this had on the voters who aren’t already with us — the folks who don’t like politics, who find elites of both parties untrustworthy, and who aren’t currently thinking about the stakes of this election.

In the days to come, we’re going to get a ton of data on how these voters reacted to the debate. Frankly, there’s no reason to think Biden won people to our side. I also don’t think there’s much reason to think Trump won them over, either.

But let’s not skip over the damage Trump did to himself. He refused not once, not twice, but three times to accept the results of this election. He refused again to accept the results of the last election. And he bragged about killing Roe and opening the floodgates to attacks on reproductive rights around the country. You don’t have to be a Democratic campaigner in the spin room to recognize all that is deeply unpopular and bad for Trump.

You’re going to hear me repeat this a lot in the months to come: When voters focus on the personalities, we struggle. When voters focus on the stakes, we win. And what all the data so far tells us is that many, many voters do not yet understand the stakes.

I wish Biden had done better in this debate. But there is no world where Biden could carry this message on his own regardless of how well he landed his lines. He’s an elected politician and a member of one of our two national, unpopular political parties. Our target audience — those folks who legitimately are torn between voting for Biden, voting third party, or not voting at all — view him and others in his class with skepticism. Mathematically speaking, most of them did not even tune into the debate.

You and I know these stakes — it’s what makes us so engaged in this fight. And we need to blast it out again and again and again, in as many creative ways as possible, in the hope that eventually it will break through with the voters we need. Not the first or second time, but maybe the eighth or ninth.

So here’s my real take on the debate: Ask not what Biden can do to win the election; ask what you can do to help defeat Trump. And that brings us the brag:

The Brag: But what can we do? Lots.

In these virtual pages, I’ve been writing about the two-year anniversary of the Republicans overturning Roe for a couple months. When nearly a third of voters blame Biden or aren’t sure who to blame for killing Roe, we know we have to correct the record or risk losing in November. But far more important than what I write here is what Indivisible movement leaders do to take narrative advantage of this moment. Here’s the strategic logic of this work:

The problem: Many voters who support reproductive rights aren’t paying close enough attention to assign blame to Trump and Republicans for attacking reproductive rights.

The message: Republicans stacked the court with right-wingers to kill Roe, enacted state abortion bans across the country, and are actively blocking the Right to IVF Act and the Right to Contraception Act.

The messenger: Biden and other elected Democrats can carry the right message, but for that message to get through to the voters we need to reach, we need the right messengers. And there’s no better messenger than friendly fellow community members.

The opportunity: On the anniversary of the Dobbs decision overturning Roe, journalists will be looking for hooks for their articles. This gives us an opportunity to influence the narrative.

And that’s what Indivisibles did this week:

Local Indivisible groups orchestrated 150 events in 30 states and 45 cities with more than 50 press hits all over the country. Here are some great ones that stood out to me:

Before a single vote is cast — before we even start doing any GOTVing — this is how we focus public attention on the stakes. The right message, the right messengers, again and again and again.

When Indivisible is doing its part right, we’re supporting this local group work on the ground. And I find our work on this SUPER brag-worthy:

  • We released a toolkit with everything groups needed to know to plan an event. We also sent out supplemental docs with creative visual ideas, messaging guidance, and funding info.
  • We hosted two trainings, a community planning space, and office hours to make sure folks had the support they needed in planning events.
  • 14 organizers worked with 172 groups around the country to plan events.
  • We designed signs that groups could print locally and graphics to promote their events.
  • The press team directly prepped advisories, pulled press lists, and pitched eight events to local media, and provided training support to a ton more.
  • We sent out personalized recruitment emails for 65 events and texts for 10 events.
  • We directly funded events through GROW Grants and the reimbursement requests are still coming in! (Hey, did you host an event? You can apply for a reimbursement for event materials here)
  • We dedicated 1,850 total staff hours to support groups and staff everything.

I want more of this over the next four months. We need more of this over the next four months. And more of this costs money. And that money comes from the pockets of grassroots supporters. Grassroots supporters like you. Please chip in if you can.

The discussion: Coffee chat Monday!

Reminder: Leah and I will be holding another friendly afternoon coffee Q&A this Monday at 4pm ET/1pm PT. You can sign up here. If you’ve never come before, drop on by! It’s an informal space where we talk about the state of the campaign, organizing tactics, messaging strategies, political anxieties, fears, and hopes. If you have come before, come again and bring a first-timer with you. Hope to see you there!



Indivisible Guide

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