RALEIGH, N.C. — Hillary Clinton's campaign has reached out to dozens of Democratic House and Senate candidates this week to offer an endorsement and support from her massive digital organizing program in an effort to bolster down-ballot candidates and get out the vote in the lead-up to Election Day.
Clinton officials contacted a select group of House and Senate campaigns across the county with the same question: What do you need? On the table: Clinton’s endorsement, to use in whatever way best suits the candidate, along with a menu of options from the campaign’s digital field operation — social media posts, text messages, emails encouraging voters to volunteer, and access to Clinton’s online organizing tools.
Dozens of Democratic House and Senate candidates — including in non-battleground states Indiana, New York, and California — heard from the campaign early this week, in most cases from one of its state directors, according to a person who is involved in a number of the races and laid out the details of the campaign's outreach effort.
The down-ballot digital push, confirmed by a Clinton aide on Thursday, is aimed in particular at House races — smaller operations that typically don’t have as developed a field program as a large U.S. Senate race. (Some, for instance, have no SMS engagement plan for the Election Day homestretch — a gap Clinton can help fill with her own text message program.) Clinton aides describe their digital organizing operation, led by digital organizing director Jess Morales Rocketto, as the most advanced of any presidential campaign to date.
Dozens of down-ballot campaigns will receive the offer, one Democrat with knowledge of the outreach effort said. (The campaign declined to provide an exact number.)
As her aides opens access to the organizing program and its resources — including the campaign’s call tool and digital get-out-the-vote media and ads — Clinton has made more of an effort at her campaign events to boost House and Senate candidates, urging supporters at nearly stop this week to vote Democrat all the way down the ballot.
Priorities USA Action, the multimillion-dollar super PAC supporting her candidacy, has also released a series of new ads aimed at linking congressional Republicans to Trump.
The push is relatively late in a year that's been dominated by the presidential election. President Obama, meanwhile, has been one of the few extremely high-profile Democrats to emphasize the importance of down-ballot candidates — especially state and local Democrats. He's endorsed and helped more than 150 candidates this fall. Those efforts may be part of his intended post-presidential legacy: He and former Attorney General Eric Holder recently announced a 527 group aimed at combatting gerrymandering,
As Clinton has made a final swing through the battleground states, hopping from Ohio to Florida and back to North Carolina here on Thursday, Clinton has also acknowledged that without more Democrats in Congress, her policy agenda would face instant and near insurmountable roadblocks. And after a highly divisive campaign, Clinton remains one of the least liked and trusted presidential nominees in the history of US elections.
It’s a hard reality to contend with for Democrats facing competitive races in some parts of the country — particularly those dependent on the non-college-educated white voters who widely oppose Clinton — turning even this week’s digital organizing opportunity into something of a political tightrope for some who received the offer.
For one such House candidate, a strategist on the race said, operatives agreed they would benefit from Clinton’s digital get-out-the-vote tools and fundraising apparatus. But they passed on the idea of a public media push from the Clinton team.
The strategist explained: “It’s a 'How do you politely decline a fruit cake?' kind of thing on some of these races.”
Clinton has long emphasized the need for a “deep bench" of new Democratic talent. And on the trail, senior aides say daily that high Democratic turnout is essential to their plan for a victory on Tuesday, countering what a senior Trump campaign official recently described as a three-tiered “voter suppression” effort underway, targeting key swaths of the Democratic electorate: women, young voters, and black voters.
“Complacency is probably our biggest enemy right now,” Robby Mook, the Clinton campaign manager, told reporters late last week. “We’re running like we’re 20 points behind.”