Message from the Chair

4 mins read

While the counting of the ballots continues in several places around the country, here in Washtenaw County the votes are in and the results are known. And what we know is that, once again, Democrats were successful beyond measure. But this year was unique in so many ways and it’s important to understand just how impressive our victory was.

First, let’s look at the Democratic turnout in presidential elections in our county over the years since the high water mark of Barack Obama’s 2008 victory:

Obama 2008 – 130,578 votes
Obama 2012 – 120,890 votes
Clinton 2016 – 128,483 votes
Biden 2020 – 157,130 votes

The fact that we had an increase in turnout from 2016 to 2020 of 28,647 Democratic voters during a global pandemic is nothing short of astonishing. By way of comparison, there were only 5,610 more Republican voters. Interestingly, 26,340 additional ballots were cast in Washtenaw in 2020 vs. 2016 and yet Democratic votes increased even more than that. In other words, some Republican voters joined us this year.

When you consider that Clinton lost Michigan by a scant 10,704 votes in 2016, that increase in 28,647 votes becomes even more profound.

As most of you probably know, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Biden campaign and the Coordinated campaign (aka, the ONE Campaign) did no in-person canvassing until very late in the cycle. In fact, they did very little voter contact at all until August. Despite that, our Precinct Organizing Committee harnessed the talents and passions of nearly 1,100 volunteers to make over a quarter million voter contacts in 2020. Much of this was teaching people how to vote early and vote by mail. Later in the cycle, they chased down voters who had absentee ballots to ensure they returned them. These volunteers also distributed 80,000 Voter Guides by hand in under two weeks and filled hundreds and hundreds of shifts on Election Day to be poll greeters, handing out Democratic slate cards. It’s hard to express how transformational these efforts were. Again, all of this was in addition to the work we did for the ONE Campaign.

On top of all this, the WCDP used Biden-Harris yard signs as a fundraiser and got over 5,000 signs into the community, raising our visibility along tens of thousands of dollars in the process. Despite our massive electoral successes, we still managed to pay for the Voter Guide and poll greeter cards and have a sizable war chest left over to pay for rent & utilities for the office in Ypsilanti for years to come. More excitingly, we now have the resources to do some exciting things in our community to ensure that residents understand that “Dems Care” and that we are there for them even in odd-numbered years when we are not asking for their vote, their time, or their money.

We will be holding volunteer appreciation events in the coming weeks to express our deep gratitude for the many volunteers who stepped up this year along with the volunteer leaders who provided the essential framework, infrastructure, and resources to make sure our volunteers could make a meaningful contribution to the effort. In the meantime, on behalf of the entire WCDP Executive Board, please accept my deep and heartfelt thanks and gratitude for all you did to help out in 2020. It’s not hyperbole to say that our efforts here in Washtenaw County had a national impact and it’s being noticed.

In solidarity,

Chris Savage
WCDP Chair

Photo by Donald Giannatti on Unsplash

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