2018 Election Spurs New Wave of Massachusetts Activists

Political activism always increases in the weeks leading up to Election Day, but for this cycle, the activism started almost two years ago.

Millions of volunteers, including thousands in Massachusetts, will be watching closely Tuesday to see if their unprecedented grassroots efforts pay off.

For Susan Labandibar, the day after the 2016 election was life-changing.

“We just felt like there was a lead weight on our chests," she said. "So we said, 'we just got to do something.'”

Labandibar, along with thousands of other voters, became a first-time activist. Most of these voters-turned-activists were women, and many were women of color. They all shared a common goal of flipping the House of Representatives from red to blue.

For some of these activists, striving toward that goal has meant working for a crop of first-time Democratic candidates outside of Massachusetts.

“It’s a relatively new thing for people to try to get out of their blue bubble and into another district,” Labandibar said.

Labandibar is now the regional organizing coordinator for Swing Left, a grassroots network of more than 300,000 volunteers focused on the swing districts around the country that President Donald Trump won in 2016.

“It’s hard to overstate how angry and upset and despairing people are," Labandibar said. "This is the antidote to despair because they’re doing things.”

Those actions include phone banking, texting, knocking on doors and writing postcards. Groups like Trip to Flip, Elect Blue, Flip the House and Knock Every Door are all involved in the effort.

Just in Labandibar’s region, Swing Left raised more than $600,000

GOP state party chair Kirsten Hughes says Republicans are equally fired up. But Hughes believes Republicans are focused not on national races, but rather on growing their ranks state-wide.

“We’ve made over 800,000 door knocks, 3.1 million calls," she said. "We have 40 state-wide field offices.”

Many polls show the House to be well within reach of handing leadership back to the Democrats. But activists say anything could happen in this constantly changing political climate—and they say they will not let up until the polls close on Tuesday.

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