Netroots Nation's to-do list: Get Democrats to polls in November
July 17th, 2014
09:02 AM ET
4 months ago

Netroots Nation's to-do list: Get Democrats to polls in November

(CNN) - The spotlight will shine on the 2014 and 2016 elections as some 3,000 activists from the left gather in Detroit starting Thursday.

That's when the annual Netroots Nation conference, the largest gathering of progressive leaders and activists, kicks off. And two of the Democratic Party's biggest stars - Vice President Joe Biden and freshman Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts - will give keynote addresses.

While the 2016 race for the White House will be a topic of discussion in dozens of panel discussions, the more immediate concern is this November's midterm elections and Democrats trying to hold onto control of the Senate.

The smaller, typical midterm electorate traditionally favors the Republican Party because single women and younger and minority voters - big supporters of Democrats in presidential election years - tend to cast ballots in smaller numbers in the midterms.

Putting a strategy together to motivate those on the left to show up at the polls come November is on the to-do list at the Detroit gathering.

"A large number of people at our conference are the people that are going to be knocking on doors and making phone calls, and that's often is something that doesn't happen during midterms. Certainly some of the demographics here is exactly the demographics they want turning out: young and people of color and women," Raven Brooks, executive director of Netroots Foundation and Netroots Nation, told CNN.

"An even bigger part is the reach and influence that all of the people here have," Brooks added. "It's important to get them energized and activated so they can then go back to wherever they live and energize their local community."

Progressives are a key constituency in the Democratic Party, a major drawing card for Netroots Nation.

"The folks that are coming, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vice President Joe Biden, recognize the power of this community and they know this is an election that people have to turn out for if we're going to win," Brooks said.

Biden, Warren, and Clinton

Biden has been a tireless campaigner for his party, but he's also had to balance his own aspirations, which might include another bid for the White House. That makes his first-ever appearance at the annual gathering all the more intriguing.

Both Biden and Warren spoke Wednesday in Washington at the Make Progress National Summit, a gathering of young progressives.

"I'd like to think I did my part for marriage equality," the vice president said in his speech, touting his early support - even before President Barack Obama - for legalizing same sex marriage.

But Biden may have a tough time winning the support of some on the left if he does decide to launch a 2016 presidential campaign.

"There's a lot of good will towards Joe Biden and respect for his legacy," said Adam Green, the founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a group that strongly supports Warren and boasts an email list of nearly a million people.

But Green went on to tell CNN that "Someone who's been in the Senate and White House for around 40 years probably is not best equipped to have their finger on the pulse of the rising economic populist tide in America. I think there's going to be a search for some fresher voices and people more looped into our movement."

Warren has been traveling the campaign trail the past couple of months, in support of fellow Democrats running in 2014. But she's said numerous times that she's not running for the White House in 2016. But that didn't stop a group titled "Ready for Warren" from launching a Facebook campaign and Twitter feed on the eve of the conference to try and convince Warren to change her mind.

The group plans to make a splash at the conference.

"At Netroots and beyond, we're going to show Warren what huge momentum she has if she were to jump into the race," Erica Sagrans, the group's campaign manager, told CNN.

And they'll find a very receptive crowd at Netroots.

"There's certainly a contingent that are hopeful and actively trying to do things to create the conditions to let her say yes to that," Brooks said.

Hillary Clinton, who is in the middle of a book tour for her new memoir "Hard Choices," isn't attending Netroots Nation. She was invited but Brooks said her team "declined is because she's not out on the political scene."

The former secretary of state's seriously considering another bid for the White House, and if she runs, as many expect she will, Clinton would instantly become the overwhelming front runner for the Democratic nomination. But she may not the overwhelming choice of many of those attending Netroots Nation.

"If you go back to the 2008 campaign, our group was pretty split between Clinton and Obama," Brooks said, referring to the historic battle between then-Sens. Clinton and Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Brooks added that when it comes to Clinton's standing among progressives, "I do feel like there is a lot of love, and detractors as well."

The PCCC's Green said that Clinton has a lot of questions to answer before those on the left will support her.

"Hillary Clinton has made her views on social policy and foreign policy well known, but hasn't yet addressed many core economic populism issues, such as Wall Street reform, expanding social security benefits, or reducing student debt. A lot of people want to assume good intentions when it comes her her, but have some very tough questions about whether she will stand with Elizabeth Warren on key economic populist issues," Green told CNN.

While Clinton won't be in Detroit, an outside group that's urging her to run in 2016 will be there in force. Several members of Ready for Hillary will be at the conference, holding a session on how grassroots activists have changed the political landscape, and hosting a party for Netroots Nation attendees.


Filed under: 2016 • Elizabeth Warren • Joe Biden • Michigan • Netroots Nation
soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. rs

    I dunno, the GOP is tearing itself apart, spending wads of Koch money against each other, fielding ever more radical or stupid candidates (i.e McDaniel), failing to police their own fire (Palin, Akin, et al).

    In Arizona its a laugh riot- re-appointing recalled crooks, screaming at buses of boy scouts, keeping criminals in office- and Governors candidate (what/ 6 from the Right), each crazier than the last making all sorts of border promises they can't keep (apparently, they've never read the State or U.S. Constitution). For a top-off- Joe Arpaio.

    The Right is officially unhinged. It is simply waiting to put the gun to its head and finish itself off.

    July 17, 2014 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  2. Sniffit

    "O'Malley suggested the White House leaked word of his phone call with Munoz in retaliation for his remarks.

    ======

    Another example of the vindictive, "you reward your friends and punish your enemies" way this administration conducts business. And this charge comes from a democrat (but he's white, so I guess he just can't stand blah blah blah, right sniffit?)."

    --

    You and your ad hominem can take a long Koch-brothers-worshipping belly crawl off a long pier. Besides, you want to talk about vindictive leaking? Plame. Plame Plame Plame Plame PLAME....and yet you consistently, unerringly and religiously side with the people who would do such a thing.

    July 17, 2014 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  3. Lynda/Minnesota

    "The only people undermining these United States of America are the nutjobs of the Right!"

    But, hey. Isn't that what true patriots DO ... undermine the United States of America? For example: I see their flags proudly waving. I see their love of Country in all that is red, white, and blue. I see their fanaticism where the word America is concerned. I hear them sing "America the Beautiful".

    So, yeah. They LOVE their country. But its government and its people? Not so much.

    July 17, 2014 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  4. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Lynda/Minnesota says:
    July 17, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am
    Hey! Don’t you know that “passive agressive grandmas” are not supposed to have a sense of humor?!
    Good one my friend, and good morning…yes?!
    Lol!
    ——————————

    Uh-oh. Coffee on the keyboard.

    Yeah well. He’s been trying to float that fodder for months now.

    Uh oh let me guess who called you a passive aggressive grandma??? What did I miss??😳

    July 17, 2014 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  5. Dean

    Get those Central American 'children' registered as 'Democrat'!

    July 17, 2014 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  6. rs

    rla

    We have seen the progressive change thing and it was a failure- Getting the welfare crowd to the polls is not a good thing but the above article is about nothing else!
    _______________________
    Sure- vote Red- the worst education, worst pollution, shortest lifespans, lowest incomes (and the greatest percentage of those getting "welfare")- all in RED states. Vote Republican, and you vote against yourself.

    July 17, 2014 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  7. Sniffit

    "2016 hovers over Christie Iowa trip"

    Hey now...be nice CNN....no need for veiled references to Governor Soprano's gravitational field...

    July 17, 2014 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    "What did I miss??"

    The usual temper tantrum, this time directed at me. Guess I'm going to have to drag out the rocking chair and knitting needles and do what grandmas did to entertain themselves 50 years ago.

    July 17, 2014 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  9. Lynda/Minnesota

    Gunderson
    Wow!,
    More good News This Morning. Micro Soft is Laying off 18 thousand workers over the next year.
    ---------------

    Its been awhile since I've heard a GOPer get excited about laying off thousands of workers. Thanks for the refresher.

    July 17, 2014 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  10. Bill from GA

    rla – " We have seen the progressive change thing and it was a failure- Getting the welfare crowd to the polls is not a good thing but the above article is about nothing else! "

    I ran a search on the above article and the first mention of the word 'welfare' was your comment.

    Typical rightie; wouldn't know a fact if it hit you in the &ss.

    July 17, 2014 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  11. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Lynda/Minnesota says:
    July 17, 2014 10:53 am at 10:53 am
    “What did I miss??”

    The usual temper tantrum, this time directed at me. Guess I’m going to have to drag out the rocking chair and knitting needles and do what grandmas did to entertain themselves 50 years ago.

    I can't even imagine what he's called me but I completely ignore his long winded I know everything spiel. I don't even read his comments. I used to read the first few lines but his condescending crap is enough to make one throw up in their own mouth. I know a lady like him and I avoid her like the Ebola virus. 😊

    July 17, 2014 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  12. Ol' Yeller

    The funny thing is... the REALLY funny thing... Joe Biden could beat the best candidate the republicants have to offer hands down and he isn't even being seen as a contender. The repulicants are sooo scared of Hillary and wetting their pants over her... yet they can't field a candidate worth a plug nickel and already so desparate they dusting off 3 time loser, deer in the headlights, romney.
    Cracks me up.
    Their polls are already showing he has beat Hillary by a landslide (HA!)

    July 17, 2014 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  13. Bill from GA

    Lily – " Not a single DEM is going to repeat the mistake of 2010. The lesson was well learnt. Come November 2014, no one is going to sit home without going to the voting booth and exercise the POWER they hold. "

    I don't know if you are dreaming or trying out for the cheerleading squad. When I voted in May in the Georgia primary, with a few significant choices to be made for the Dems, the polls were empty. I don"t expect a remarkable turnaround in November.

    My area is heavily Dem and heavily black. I will be called a racist for saying so, but we need black leaders to come out in the South, where a large part of the Dem base IS black, and motivate the voters. Get Michelle Obama, Oprah, some of those rap 'stars'. My neighbors care nothing for Biden or Warren. They like Oprah, Rev. Al.

    I'm sure some would rather we be 'politically correct' than win elections.

    July 17, 2014 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  14. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Dean says:
    July 17, 2014 10:49 am at 10:49 am
    Get those Central American ‘children’ registered as ‘Democrat’!

    When did "children" start voting??

    July 17, 2014 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  15. Silence DoGood

    @Lynda/Minnesota
    Gunderson
    Wow!,
    More good News This Morning. Micro Soft is Laying off 18 thousand workers over the next year.
    -----
    Its been awhile since I've heard a GOPer get excited about laying off thousands of workers. Thanks for the refresher.
    --------–
    Secretly I think conservatives get off on focusing in on "trouble" just like they were gleeful over causing the government shutdown. The downside of course is some folks out there take this fantasy violent take-over thing from the Tea Party seriously.

    July 17, 2014 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  16. S.B. Stein

    I would hope that everyone who is eligible to vote does so. If they don't, there is no right for them to complain. That is why I have voted in 85% of the elections I could which includes school board elections as well. Part of me believes that the reason why some of the people don't go out and vote during the "mid term elections" is because they didn't learn about the federal government when they were in school. I would certainly be running commercials from the non-profit that I would start after winning the lottery to encourage people to vote and tell them why. We need a more informed and educated electorate as the founding fathers would have wanted.

    July 17, 2014 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  17. Rudy NYC

    Lynda/Minnesota

    "What did I miss??"

    The usual temper tantrum, this time directed at me. Guess I'm going to have to drag out the rocking chair and knitting needles and do what grandmas did to entertain themselves 50 years ago.
    =============================================================
    You just go right on ignoring them, okay? What they are doing is based upon false assumption that most people. The false assumption is that we tend to judge other people's words and deeds as if we were in that other person's shoes. As sensible as that might sound, it is exactly the wrong way to evaluate other people.

    They're trying to get under your skin by doing to you what gets under their skin, and expecting you to react in kind.

    July 17, 2014 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  18. smith

    Red State & Blue State bashing. Yeah, your bashing in most cases a whole lot of people who vote the same as you. (dumb, dumb, dumb).

    July 17, 2014 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  19. Tom l

    “O’Malley suggested the White House leaked word of his phone call with Munoz in retaliation for his remarks.

    ======

    Another example of the vindictive, “you reward your friends and punish your enemies” way this administration conducts business. And this charge comes from a democrat (but he’s white, so I guess he just can’t stand blah blah blah, right sniffit?).”

    —-

    You and your ad hominem can take a long Koch-brothers-worshipping belly crawl off a long pier. Besides, you want to talk about vindictive leaking? Plame. Plame Plame Plame Plame PLAME….and yet you consistently, unerringly and religiously side with the people who would do such a thing.

    --–

    Fair comment with regards to Valerie Plame. You are correct, this administration is very similar and just as vindictive as the Bush. But since Bush is no longer president, I'm not sure what your point is other than to try and deflect what you just acknowledged. As far as the ad hominem attack, not sure what your complaint is or maybe I'm wrong and not almost every one of your comments contains some form of "demographic Armageddon" or "they can't stand seeing a black man as president" or "the fear brown people".

    July 17, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  20. Lynda/Minnesota

    "I can't even imagine what he's called me but I completely ignore his long winded I know everything spiel"

    Thing is, if ALL we had to ever have to worry about in life was what some internet jock thinks of us, we'd be traveling the yellow brick road hand in hand singing Kumbayah at the top of our lungs while running over each other to pick up the golden nuggets the trickle downers throw our way.

    July 17, 2014 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  21. It must be said

    More like Nutroots Nation!! It is pretty clear that communism is alive and well in the USA and controls the Democrat Party.

    July 17, 2014 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  22. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Uh oh let me guess who called you a passive aggressive grandma??? What did I miss??😳
    -----------------------------------------------------
    The Usual Suspect doing his usual thing....nothing to see here!

    July 17, 2014 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  23. Rudy NYC

    "The Right is officially unhinged. It is simply waiting to put the gun to its head and finish itself off."
    -------------------------------------
    You can say that again. Unhinged might be too polite, though. What I find most disturbing is how they run around ranting and raving about hating government while wrapped up in the government's flag and calling themselves patriots.

    July 17, 2014 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
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