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 election by a thin margin in November 2016.
Why do we need Swing Left?
Voters in “safe” districts tend to feel powerless about their impact on local elections with 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 turn the House of Representatives blue in 2018. We will achieve this goal by organizing and supporting volunteers in swing districts across the country who are working to elect Democrats.
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 to volunteer and support Democratic candidates in your inbox.
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, collaborating with seasoned organizers to create fresh, innovative approaches. 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 San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, 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’ll send emails with relevant, timely information and actions, but we’re not going to slam your inbox. We aim to send no more than one per week. More actively engaged members may receive emails more often.
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 (sorry, Pacific Northwest). Don’t worry: we’ll still share 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 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 recognize that the current list of swing districts is imperfect. Swing Left plans to refine this list, which could include adjusting the number of districts. For instance, we may include places where special elections are scheduled.
We are relying on the Swing Left community and a panel of expert advisors to refine our approach and map. You are encouraged to share your perspective, especially if you have specific local knowledge of battleground seats. You can share these insights in an open discussion about this topic on Quora or you can email them to swing[at]swingleft.org.
We will keep the community updated on any changes and will transparently share the reasoning behind them.
What kinds of things can I do today, before there are clear Democratic nominees in Swing Districts?
Here are three things you can do to get started right now
Swing Left is currently focused on gathering information about Swing Districts and facilitating ways for volunteers to have an early impact in these districts. We’re 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.
What can I do to have an impact in my swing district?
When the general election candidates emerge, we will share actionable volunteer opportunities to support them—phone banking, canvassing, fundraising, and more. Until then, volunteers will be 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 52 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 state elections, while Swing Left is focused primarily on building the infrastructure for 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.