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Lessons from 2022: 
How to elect Progressives in rural districts

Better funding, off-cycle organizing, focusing on local issues and emotional appeals can help elect Progressives even in red, rural areas . . .

Those were the key takeaways from interviews conducted with fifty organizers in rural areas across the country, based on their experience in the 2022 campaigns.  Here are highlights from the report, which (along with an explanatory Webinar) you can download here along with our thoughts in italics.


  1. Organizing and mobilization campaigns are crippled by a lack of funding.  Underestimating the presence of progressives in rural areas overlooks their potential and discourages them from turning out for what could be winnable races if properly supported.  The report points out that dollars go further in small markets for media ad buys, such as in local papers, social media, penny savers, and neighborhood news outlets.  Tip: In talking to donors, emphasize this added impact in small races or media markets.  

  2. Off-cycle coalition and collaboration among organizations create networks that can be mobilized during election years.  Collaborate across lines, avoid duplicating efforts. (One organizer said she was inspired by connecting with other inspiring and inspired organizers.)  Early canvassing to listen to voters is important.  Show attention to constituent concerns, needs and issues through concrete steps.  Attend events, board meetings, develop visibility, name recognition, voice creative ideas. Once they are known and trusted, the leaders of Progressive organizations are in a better position to ask for votes. This mirrors what we at MAFlipPA are hearing from our in-state partners in Pennsylvania,

  3. Progressive candidates in rural areas must incorporate local issues and real tangible solutions in their platforms and messaging. Examples include improved access to broadband , reducing opioid use and improving health care, housing and school safety.  This is why we at MAFlipPA are working hard to identify and distribute “hyper local” news about such benefits.

  4. Policy and issues are not enough to win rural campaigns. Messaging must tap into emotion to move people to act. Counteract anger and fear with HOPE.   Use language that engages on multiple levels:  Consider messaging that “imagines outcomes,” points out “How we can achieve” a goal and explains the specific steps to reach the goal.

Rural Organizing is a great organization and the leader of this effort, Dani Cook, is an inspiring speaker. We encourage you to both download the full  report and view the LessonbsWebinar at this link.

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