Donald Trump knows it. Donald Trump’s campaign team, allies, and friends know it. And Democrats know it too. That’s why they all keep showing up here: the road to the White House still goes through Ohio.

No serious political analyst would doubt that if the Democratic nominee for president in 2020 wins Ohio, that person wins the presidency. And the orange lunatic currently darkening the towels of the Executive Residence with spray tan solution is setting Ohio up as his final rampart, his last hope.

Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Corey Lewandowski, Steve Bannon, Sean Spicer, Betsy DeVos, they’ve all stopped in Ohio recently.

And on the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, and Elizabeth Warren have all visited voters in the Buckeye State, and we’re still 10 months away from our primary. Ohio’s own U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan is running for president, and the Ohio Democratic Party hosted U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for its annual Legacy Dinner.

“We have to make the decision to win in Ohio in 2020… No Democrats would ever say we’re not going to fight it out in Ohio,” Pelosi told a crowd of more than 1,200 at the dinner. “To do that would be to our peril as a national party. This is a great state that has almost every feature of America in it.”

If Ohio is no longer in play, someone needs to tell Washington.

The Ohio Democratic Party is certainly full steam ahead, and they appear to be making moves to both diversify their funding resources and set up programs to build a bench, register Ohio voters, continue to appeal to suburban voters, extend more outreach to rural areas, and energize their core supporters in cities.

Take the Ohio Dems’ relationship with labor, for instance.

While the Ohio Dems continue to enjoy essentially the same level of financial support from labor they always have in hard dollars, records obtained by Plunderbund show the party is bringing in more money from other areas as well.

The party has been using low-dollar, online fundraising and other tactics to diversify its fundraising, which had been criticized in the past as overly reliant on a small handful of labor unions.

To this point in the calendar year, here are the rounded funding amounts from labor to the Ohio Dems in similar cycles between 2015 and today, followed by total funding figures to the same point, followed by the percentage of the total that labor funding represents:

  • 2015 – $395,000 of $1,180,000, or 33.5 percent
  • 2017 – $352,000 of $2,371,150, or 14.8 percent
  • 2019 – $345,000 of $1,188,000, or 29 percent

Moreover, according to campaign finance records, the Ohio Democratic Party had 55 percent of its total annual funding coming from labor in 2013, and in 2014, it was 62 percent.

In 2017, the percentage of total annual funding from labor was down to 28 percent, and in 2018, it stood at 19.5 percent.

What’s going on? Democratic Party insiders tell Plunderbund that the Ohio Dems have actually been working with labor to widen its net of funding resources, and it’s been successful.

The party’s average online donation is $15, but a large amount of their monthly online haul comes from recurring contributions — which shows they have a decent base of grassroots activists that are invested in the party’s long-term success.

Dems argue — and it makes sense — that having a range of resources on top of the party’s established allies and supporters bodes well for what they can accomplish.

And what are they trying to accomplish? So far this year the Ohio Dems have made a well-publicized effort to re-register Ohio voters unjustly purged from the rolls. Since 2010, two million Ohio voters have been removed from the rolls, including 1.2 million for infrequent voting.

The most heavily impacted demographics? You’ll be shocked to learn Republican politicians are carrying out policies that largely target and disenfranchise Democratic voters: voters of color, young voters, voters in lower-income households, and voters living in urban areas.

The response from the Ohio Dems this year has been to hold dozens of phone banks to call tens of thousands of Ohioans who were purged from the voting rolls and re-register as many of them as possible.

Part of continuing that work will be a Summer of Action fellowship program where fellows, spread throughout the state, will work to register voters, build volunteer capacity, and push back on the president’s failed policies that are hurting the people of Ohio.

Meanwhile, the Ohio Dems are continuing to focus on local races with their Main Street program, training up a young, energetic bench of officeholders. The program reportedly set a record for attendance earlier this year.

The party is also reportedly making moves to engage rural communities as well as energize city cores and continue to tap into the suburban areas that Dems peeled away from Republicans in 2018. The Ohio Republicans’ demented, extremist agenda looks only to encourage more suburban flight away from them.

Having a diversified set of funding resources is a good way to make sure all of the Dems’ programs succeed.

The success of these programs — making inroads every day from now until Election Day 2020 — will set the table for the winner of the Democratic presidential nomination to take Ohio.

If Democrats win Ohio, they win the whole freaking thing, and our long national nightmare will be over.

 

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