Frequently Asked Questions
About Swing Left
What is Swing Left?
Swing Left is an online community that connects you with your nearest Swing District. This is a district where the winner, an elected official who is now serving a two-year term in the House of Representatives, won the November 2016 election by a thin margin, or is otherwise vulnerable in 2018.
Why do we need Swing Left?
Voters in “safe” districts tend to feel powerless about their impact on local elections that have national repercussions. At the same time, House midterm elections, including in Swing Districts, tend to receive less attention than other races. We formed Swing Left to provide a simple way for voters living both inside and outside of Swing Districts to come together and channel their time, resources, and ideas to help progressives prevail in these critical races.
What is Swing Left’s goal?
Swing Left’s goal is to flip the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections and put a check on the Trump and GOP agenda. We will achieve this by organizing and supporting volunteers to have an impact Swing Districts across the country.
How do I sign up to volunteer with Swing Left?
You can sign up to volunteer in your nearest Swing District by going to swingleft.org and entering your zip code. You will be directed to your nearest Swing District. Enter your email address and click “Get Involved” to begin receiving actionable opportunities in your inbox to volunteer and support Democratic candidates.
Who created Swing Left?
Swing Left was founded by Ethan Todras-Whitehill, a writer and teacher; Miriam Stone, a brand strategist; and Josh Krafchin, a marketer and entrepreneur. We’re currently an all-volunteer group from various industries who are collaborating with seasoned organizers to create fresh, effective approaches to reach our goal of flipping the House. We are a small but rapidly-growing organization whose members are working around the clock, in addition to our day jobs, to scale up the organization and fulfill the promise of Swing Left.
Where is Swing Left located?
More than 300,000 volunteers live in and around Swing Districts across the country. Swing Left’s organizing team is coordinating from locations around the country, including San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, Colorado, New York and Massachusetts.
How did Swing Left start?
We started with a simple idea: take back the House in 2018 by focusing on Swing Districts. The website went live on Jan 19, 2017 -- the day before inauguration day. More than 150,000 people signed up to volunteer in their nearest Swing District within the first three days. That number reached 300,000 in three weeks. For more on the founding story and idea behind Swing Left, check out this piece in the The New Yorker.
Is Swing Left a PAC or a non-profit?
Swing Left is registered as a Carey PAC. This means we can support progressive candidates (with donations up to $5,000 per person) and fund general Swing Left activities through donations that have no upper limit. This mix ensures we’ll have the resources needed to keep the organization afloat without having to constantly solicit our community for donations, freeing up as many resources as possible for on-the-ground efforts in Swing Districts.
How do I donate to Swing Left?
Please donate here. Your donation will allow us to keep improving on multiple fronts: building technology tools, creating high-quality events and content, and eventually hiring a lean, full-time operational staff to ensure that we can translate your efforts as a volunteer into maximal impact on winning the House in 2018.
I sent in an application, comment, or question. I still haven’t heard back. Why?
One word: volume. We have received more than 15,000 volunteer applications, plus many thousands of emails and social media posts. Please know that we are making our way through all the applications, feedback and questions as quickly as we can. We are also setting up systems to be as responsive as possible going forward.
How often will I receive emails from Swing Left?
We promise to never give or sell your email address to a third party. We commit to always respecting your inbox. That means only sending emails that are relevant to you, such as regular updates on what Swing Left is doing across the country, as well as opportunities to get involved with your local Swing District teams. You'll likely hear from us a little more as we get closer to Election Day 2018, but we will always be thoughtful and selective with the emails we send you.
I have a technical error to report. How can I do so?
Please email techsupport[at]swingleft.org. We’ll look into it and respond as soon as possible.
About Swing Districts
My closest Swing District is not within driving distance. What can I do?
In some parts of the country, there are simply no nearby Swing Districts. Don’t worry: there are still plenty of ways to support Swing Districts from afar—even if your closest one is 1,000-plus miles away. We’re also constantly tracking the most competitive districts. We’ll will notify you if a district closer to you becomes competitive or if there are other related activities you can participate in nearby.
Will Swing Left adjust its definition of Swing Districts or alter its map moving forward?
We initially targeted 52 Swing Districts, which we defined as districts Republicans won by 15 points or fewer, and districts Democrats won by 10 points or fewer.
As the Republican Congress has done more and more to make itself unpopular, we've added additional districts all over the country. Our criteria for adding a district includes looking at the district's voting history back to 2008, how close it is to teams of Swing Left volunteers, and whether or not a Republican incumbent is in a particularly weak position.
What are District Funds?
District Funds are pots of money, raised in advance, for the eventual Democratic nominee in each Swing District. Democratic challengers to Republican-held seats will get the money the day after they win the primary. Democratic incumbents will get the money immediately.
This model—raising money for the eventual Democratic challenger in a House race—is new for the 2018 midterm elections and has the potential to be a game changer in swinging individual seats and the House at large.
What about state legislative races, governor’s races, and the issue of gerrymandering?
Many member of the Swing Left community have suggested we include state legislative races in our purview in order to address gerrymandering, and therefore improve the odds of taking back the House in 2018. While we are listening and are open to any approach that will help us reach our goal, we want to make sure we are complementing, rather than duplicating, existing efforts focused on these races. We are taking all of these ideas into account and will communicate any shifts in approach as soon as they occur.
New Swing Districts
How is Swing Left changing its map of Swing Districts?
We're expanding the map. We're now targeting 70 total districts, of which we need to win 23 for Democrats to win back the House.
How can I help one of the new Swing Districts?
Go to swingleft.org and enter your zip code. Once you've found your nearest Swing District, enter your email to sign up for the District Team. We'll connect you with actionable opportunities to make a difference in that district, from door-knocking to phone banking to fundraising for your district's eventual nominee.
If you’re already involved in Swing Left--thank you! Now that we’re focused on all these new Swing Districts, we need volunteers to support them. Please spread the word!
Why are new Swing Districts being added?
This decision was made based on input we received from the Swing Left community and months of careful research.
Will there be further changes to the map?
Our list of Swing Districts can change. If you are passionate about working on a district that's not on our map, let us know. We can't work in every district, but as Republicans keep passing unpopular policies, our map has been expanding.
What if I have a new closest Swing District?
For the Swing Left volunteers who now live closer to one of our new Swing Districts, we've automatically added it to the list of districts you're following, which means you'll receive future updates about ways to help. If you haven't already heard from us, we'll be in touch soon to let you know where you can be most effective.
Why am I being notified that I have a new/second Swing District?
If you receive a notification that a new Swing District has been added to the list of districts you’re following, it means that one of the new Swing Districts we've just added to our map is now your closest Swing District, and you'll be receiving future updates about how to help. Don't worry though, you're still following your previous districts, too.
What if I don't want to focus my efforts on a new Swing District (or multiple Swing Districts)?
We encourage you to feel free to get involved in whichever Swing District(s) you feel you have the time, energy, and ability to support! If you have already been volunteering in another Swing District, and you’d like to continue focusing there, that's great. We need all the help we can get to take back the House in 2018. You can adjust your email preferences any time. But there's a lot of important work to do in the new Swing Districts too, where teams are just getting started, so we hope you'll consider helping out!
What can I do to have an impact in my Swing District?
Swing Left is currently focused on gathering information about Swing Districts and facilitating ways for volunteers to have an early impact in these districts. Check out our District Resources page for a list of current information and a calendar of activities you can participate in to support your closest Swing District. We’re also actively looking for your help in shaping what this community can do in the lead-up to primaries. We encourage you to participate in an open Quora conversation on this topic.
When the general election candidates emerge, we will share actionable volunteer opportunities to support them—phone banking, canvassing, fundraising, and more. Until then, volunteers are primarily focused on listening to and registering voters and recruiting more volunteers.
Swing Left will also be making it easier for District Teams to coordinate with each other (virtually and in person) and bring their own ideas to the table. Our intention is to give every participant the flexibility to devote as much time and resources to their team as they desire.
What will Swing Left do in the case of Democratic primaries?
Swing Left will not take sides in open Democratic primaries. However, we do intend to support sitting Democratic representatives in vulnerable districts.
What about Democratic members who faced close elections? Are you going to help them?
Absolutely. Currently 17 of our 70 Swing Districts are vulnerable Democrats — all of those representatives won their race by 10% or less. It will be easier to organize in these districts early on because a sitting Democratic representative is easier to rally our troops around.
Swing Left's Partners
How is Swing Left different from Flippable and Sister District? Are you going to partner with these organizations?
Flippable and Sister District are both awesome organizations that we speak with regularly. You should definitely sign up with both of them. Both of those organizations are focusing on both state and national elections, while Swing Left is solely focused on building the infrastructure to win in the 2018 House elections. Our efforts are complementary, not overlapping. We are partners.
Is Swing Left part of the Democratic Party? Is it coordinating with campaigns, Democratic incumbents, or the DCCC?
Swing Left is not part of any official party. We plan to support Democratic incumbents and candidates once we've achieved our first important goal of establishing and implementing our own organizing structures. We will also work with other progressive groups and candidates that share our values and paramount goal: taking back the House in 2018.
Will Swing Left be coordinating with other organizations that share a similar mission?
We are open to any and all partnerships that will help flip the House in 2018. We do not want to duplicate the efforts of others. We regularly speak with with many other groups working on similar issues and are actively seeking ways to collaborate with them going forward. If you are interested in learning more about partnerships or want to discuss a collaboration, please email partnerships[at]swingleft.org.