As we approach the final days of the 2023 campaign season, it is important to reflect on how much of a difference a good candidate can make in making an impression on voters and everyone who surrounds them.
I attended a canvass kickoff rally in Aldie, VA, on Oct. 29 for House District 30 candidate Rob Banse with Sen. Mark Warner, state Senate candidate Russet Perry and state Senate candidate and Delegate Suhas Subramanyam and could see it on full display.
Russet was so generous with her praise that she seemed to suggest that we focus on canvassing for Rob ahead of herself. Mark put his arm around Rob and said he must be doing a good job to get the senior senator to show up.
Rob’s district heavily voted for Glenn Youngkin, but it also was won by popular rural candidate Tim Kaine, so the internal poll numbers must be promising.
I am not surprised, as Rob is running an excellent campaign, and his opponent is a MAGA extremist who attended at least two “Stop The Steal” rallies after the 2020 election.
Rob’s organizers have been excellent at follow-up and have encouraged one-on-one conversations where we can brainstorm how I can help as a Swing Left organizer with access to several grassroots networks.
They have promoted relational organizing with their Project 2000 program to encourage supporters to reach out to their personal networks to recruit more voters and volunteers.
I have driven through farmland plastered with Banse signs and haven’t seen any for his opponent.
And most importantly, Rob’s in-person message matches his canvass script.
It turns out his experience as a pastor has made him the kind of communicator that Democrats need in rural areas.
As his website states:
Rob strongly believes there is more that unites us than divides us. In particular, his candidacy represents a desire to move away from inflammatory, partisan politics and toward real service that responds to the needs of his district. He will bring this unifying, compassionate approach to his work in the House of Delegates.
That is a very under-rated message these days but an important one to reach swing voters–especially those who don’t follow politics as closely or aren’t super-passionate about a single issue.
We need to keep in mind that even though this is a “turnout” election, we can’t take all voters for granted because many still need some “persuasion” to vote Democratic or to show up at all.
The latest Washington Post poll shows Democrats leading on the generic ballot for House of Delegates by only 47-45 with likely voters. That leaves 8% undecided.
In the end, what voters want is a representative who they can trust to listen to local needs and show integrity in office.
I highly recommend that anyone involved in “Get Out The Vote” activities will follow Rob’s example and lead with a welcoming message for their friends and neighbors.
Jim McBride is a Democratic community leader and strategist focused on mobilizing grassroots networks from Virginia and beyond. He is creator of Facebook communities Virginia Democrats Network and Virginia For Biden as well as organizer of Virginia “Blue Victory 2023” and “Blue Victory 2024” events featured at Mobilize.US.
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