Sample Landscape Memo by DFA Campaign Academy

By at January 29, 2014 | 9:23 am | Print

Sample Landscape Memo by DFA Campaign Academy


This excerpt was taken from Democracy for America’s Campaign Academy Grassroots training manual.

The 21st State House District

The 21st state house district in the state will be open in 2009. The 4-term Republican incumbent has announced her intention of running for the  State senate, leaving this district up for grabs in November.  While the district is currently represented by a Democrat in the state senate (who is retiring this year – his chief of staff is the likely Democratic nominee in the race to fill the seat).  And in 2008 – when this state voted for John McCain over Barack Obama by 53-48% –the district vote was much closer: 50.4% for McCain to 48.1% for Obama. Democrats can win the 21st but it will take an intense effort to pull it off.

The announcement that Rep. Shirley Roberts (R-Springfield) is running for state senate set off a scramble on the Republican side. The candidates include the director of the Springfield Chamber of Commerce,  farmer from nearby Andersonville, a stay-at-home mom who chairs the local Right to Life committee, and the former chair of the Chester Republican party who served in the state house from another part of the state for one term in the mid-1980s.

On the Democratic side, two candidates have filed their papers for the primary. Holly Rifkin is an ESL teacher at Springfield High School and the president of the Springfield teachers union. She has lived and taught in Springfield for 9 years. Chris Ivins has worked at and managed his family’s printing company in Springfield for the last 30 years. The Ivins Press open for business in 1958.

The 21st has 84,873 registered voters. Party registration is: 36% republican, 33% Independent and 31% Democratic. General election turnout in the 2007 state house race was 32,251 (38%). The Democratic primary in 2007 had only 16% turnout (4209 ballots) among registered Democrats – though in that year there was only one candidate in the Democratic primary.  The Democratic primary is open only to registered Democrats, no Independents or Republicans can vote. In the 2008 presidential election 59% (50,075) of registered voters in the 21st cast ballots.

Given the competitive nature of this year’s Democratic primary and the fact the seat is open for the first time in eight years, Democratic primary turnout may increase by a few percentage points. We estimate 5788 (22%) registered Democrats will vote in the Democratic primary on September 6.  We will need 2895 votes to win in the Democratic primary.

If turnout in November is 5% higher in 2009 than 2007 (given the more competitive nature of the race), then 36,495 voters can be expected to cast ballots.  It will take 18,248 votes to win if turnout equals 43%.  In the general election the Democratic nominee will need to get out the base Democratic vote and pick up at least 61% of the Independent vote.

The Ivins campaign is relying on its strong name recognition and large social network within the district through the primary. Ivins is raising money for the general election but does not want to have to spend that money defeating Rifkin in the primary.  The Ivins campaign is going to paint itself as the campaign of “inevitability” in the primary and Ivins as the small business owner with deep roots in the community in November. Ivins plans to spend most of his money on radio and direct mail. His weakness is absence of volunteers on his campaign

Based on other campaign costs in surrounding districts, it is estimated that the primary campaign will cost $10,000 and the general election $60,000.


Democracy for America (DFA) was founded in 2004 by Gov. Howard Dean to carry on the empowerment ethos of his presidential campaign.  It was based on the idea that the grassroots are the key to the Democratic Party’s success.  DFA is the nation’s largest progressive political action organization with over 1 million members.  


The mission of Democracy For America Campaign Academy is to focus, network, and train grassroots activists in the skills and strategies to take back our country, manage successful campaigns or run for office themselves.


Democracy for America  PO Box 1717  Burlington, VT 05402




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