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2020 Primary Analysis

Deep Democracy 2.0 National - Strategy, Research and Endorsement Criteria for Maria's List

Deep Democracy 2.0 by County Data April 28, 2020

June 2020: New Mexico's Historic Primary

May 2020: What We Can Learn from CA-25 Special Election

March 2020: Washington, Mississippi, Missouri and Michigan Presidential Primary

March 2020: Super Tuesday Analysis


Deep Democracy 3.0
Strategy, Research, and Endorsement Criteria for Maria's List


Future of Deep Democracy 3.0: Massachusetts


As we launch our Deep Democracy candidate and organizational recommendations for 2021 and beyond, we are reflecting on a pair of lessons confirmed in the 2020 primary cycle in Massachusetts.


First, we must contend with a cross-party alliance in favor of the status quo that is entrenched deeply in the political power structure of Massachusetts. We saw this alliance in the Republican and moderate Democratic establishment in September 2020. The Baker-aligned Massachusetts Majority PAC and the moderate House Leadership’s Victory Fund each spent tens of thousands of dollars supporting the same 9 moderate incumbent State Reps in contested primaries. We saw the continuing electoral power of this alliance when all 9 of these incumbents won reelection.


Looking forward, we are far more motivated by the second lesson: when we invest in them, movement power and deep organizing is more powerful than the status quo. In Springfield, Sen. Adam Gomez (D-Springfield) beat an entrenched moderate incumbent by five points, making him the only challenger to beat an incumbent head-to-head in Massachusetts in 2020. Neighbor to Neighbor, a statewide community organizing and mobilization coalition, made the Hampden district one of their top electoral priorities in 2020, and turnout in Springfield more than doubled from 2018. This expansion electorate helped power Sen. Gomez’s win, as he won 45 of 46 Springfield precincts in the district, often by margins of 2:1 or more.


While we did not see similar wins in 2020 elsewhere in the state, our research on Democratic primary performance from the past decade supports our focus on Gateway Cities. We have analyzed the demographic and political factors that correlate with strong performance by primary challengers and found that challengers do better in places with more people of color, more young people, and more progressives.


Even in the most favorable districts, though, progressives in Massachusetts cannot win without the sort of sustained movement mobilization that powered Sen. Gomez’s victory in Springfield.


Our approach in 2021 doubles down on the movement power that has delivered progressive wins while empowering communities to hold elected officials accountable. Each month this summer and fall, we will focus on one city or region of Massachusetts in which we identify candidates and organizations that support this long-term vision for shifting power across the state. By stacking contributions vertically across organizations and municipal candidates, we can build sustainable movement power and set the stage for Deep Democracy wins in the years to come.


Background on Deep Democracy 1.0 and 2.0


In 2018, Rivera Consulting, Inc. worked closely with Maria’s List to develop a formal and informal qualitative and quantitative methodology for political giving. Driven by the core Maria’s List values of equity and access, Deep Democracy is a political giving strategy of stacking your political and philanthropic contributions early and vertically over a political cycle in a geographic region to candidates, movement organizations, and intermediaries who strategically complement each other. The cornerstone of Maria’s List is applying a mixed method research approach that reviews primary and secondary sources from across traditional political research, movement organizations and leaders, and donor collaboratives. This allows us to better connect the dots to leverage political giving for the short term and long term.


In 2020, Rivera Consulting, Inc. developed Deep Democracy 2.0 with a focus on states in the American south and southwest. Based on the early results of the 2020 Democratic Presidential primary, this framework identified Deep Democracy counties in the four key southern swing states of Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas. All four featured key electoral races at every level of government. Our research led us to women of color down-ballot candidates that were running in districts that featured both significant populations of people of color along with above average levels of college-educated voters. This combination of factors aimed to support the power building of women of color in state legislatures while driving up turnout for Democrats up and down the ballot.


While a state like Georgia saw more immediate electoral success than Texas, both have deepened the bench of progressive candidates of color and strengthened their state-based grassroots organizational ecosystem. That long-term commitment and patience will be just as required to shift the ecosystem and culture of Beacon Hill.