Endorsements Guide: Taking Your Endorsement National

To amplify and further the impact of the endorsements of local groups, Indivisible will facilitate a grassroots-driven national endorsement program for federal (U.S. Senate and U.S House) and gubernatorial candidates. Indivisible groups who have undertaken an endorsement process in their district or state can submit a local endorsement for national consideration. Indivisible members in the relevant district or state will then be able to vote online on the endorsement.

Together, Indivisibles have a tremendous amount of power—and endorsing is an important first step to influencing who represents us. At a national level, we will only endorse candidates who have been:

  1. Endorsed by a local Indivisible group

  2. Recommended for a national endorsement by that group

  3. Cleared candidate vetting

  4. Voted for by the majority of Indivisibles who voted online in the relevant district or state

Who Will We Endorse?

Endorsements will be driven and voted on by local Indivisible groups who live in the state or district of the race. Indivisible groups that have gone through their local endorsement process for a federal or gubernatorial race will have the opportunity to request an endorsement facilitated by Indivisible at the national level. As a national organization, we also expect all candidates we put our name behind to live up to certain values – especially on our core organizational priorities of structural democracy reform and immigration. 

Why Do National Endorsements?

Endorsing as a movement helps us grow and work together to make a bigger impact. The party can try to make this choice for you—nominating people who look like traditional politicians, and come with money and connections. Grassroots endorsements disrupt gatekeeping, elevate new leaders, and change the power landscape.

National endorsements help further elevate candidates who are preferred by your grassroots groups. Uplifting locally endorsed candidates on the national stage will showcase a new class of leaders who have grassroots support and reflect the values of the Indivisible movement.

What Does a National Endorsement Mean? (Aka Why Should My Group Request One?)

A key goal of the national endorsement program is to provide local groups in every part of the country with the resources to impact elections. Every national-level endorsement will come with:

  • A $1,000 check made out to the campaign 

  • Candidate and bio added to our website’s list of endorsed candidates

  • Web and social media graphics, customized to candidate

  • Indivisible Swag (rally signs, hats, buttons, etc.)

  • A press release from the national team announcing all candidates endorsed in that round, along with your group’s media contact for national press

In addition, we plan to make deeper investments in a small number of nationally endorsed primary and general election races. These races have yet to be determined and will depend on electoral dynamics as the cycle develops. These investments may include some (not all) of the following:

  • Support with media activities related to local Indivisible group support of the candidate, including proactive pitching to local press

  • Press announcement events organized to boost media coverage

  • Research and analysis of electoral dynamics in the endorsed race

  • Identification of potential volunteers to support your candidate and email event recruitment for events registered through indivisible.org

  • Direct mail pieces sent to targeted voters

  • Literature and materials to support door-to-door canvassing

  • Paid digital advertising

  • Group access to voter contact tools (canvassing, phonebanking, P2P texting)

  • Support and strategic guidance from one of our Regional or Statewide Organizers

General Steps of the National Endorsement Process

1. Indivisible Group(s) Go Through a Local Endorsement Process

Ultimately, we believe that any endorsement should start with you, the local groups that make Indivisible strong. Once you’ve endorsed at the local level, then...

2. Group Submits a Request for National Endorsement

Group leaders who have already gone through the local endorsement process submit a request for a national endorsement.

3. Indivisible Team Reviews the Submitted Candidates

Our team will conduct a vetting process of all endorsement requests to review the candidate’s history and ensure that they’re consistent with the values of our movement; we anticipate that local groups will have gone through a similar process and we don’t expect to disagree with those assessments. Candidates will submit answers to our policy questionnaire (which you can view here), which will be reviewed and shared with local groups. To pass the questionnaire, candidates must score 80% or better, and answer correctly on all baseline progressive issues. We'll also consider factors like: the number of Indivisible groups that have endorsed a candidate and whether there are any conflicting endorsements; the number of progressive partners that have endorsed a candidate; and intangible factors, such as whether a candidate is running for the first time or performed well in a past race. We actively seek to support women, people of color, and members of other marginalized communities for office where possible. Candidates who clear the vetting process and the questionnaire will move to the next round, which is online voting by local groups within the candidate’s district or state.

4. Group Members Sign Up to Be Part of Voting

We will ask everyone on our email list in the district or state in which the election is taking place to vote via email. Group leaders can circulate this form to group members who want to vote on endorsements. (We don’t sell anyone’s information or share it with other organizations, but we want to make sure we’re in touch with the people who lead our movement—the members of Indivisible groups—exactly for situations like this so that we can make sure we’re taking their preferences into account. We’ll also use these emails to help drive attendance to events!). Sign up to vote now.

5. Voting Begins

Group members on our email list (make sure all your group members sign up here!) in the candidate’s congressional district or state will receive an email with the candidate's bio/blurb and which groups have endorsed them.

Why aren’t all the candidates included in the email to vote? The only candidate(s) that will be included in the email will be those that have been locally endorsed by Indivisible groups, nominated for a national endorsement and have passed our policy questionnaire.

6. The Votes Are Tallied

We consider two factors from the votes:

  • First, we will only endorse a candidate if 60% or more of Indivisibles who vote online support them

  • Second, we will look at the portion of total potential voters who decided to vote to ensure that there's enthusiasm for the candidate among Indivisibles.

7. Results Are Announced

Indivisibles in the district will receive an email announcing if an endorsement has been made. If voting results in a national endorsement, groups should make plans to announce the endorsement and get involved in supporting their chosen candidate.

8. Celebrate the Endorsement Locally

Any national endorsement is a team effort between the group or groups that nominated the candidate, our national team, and all local Indivisibles who voted to endorse. So celebrate it a little!  Consider hosting an announcement event with the candidate. Think about the ways the race might be historic in nature or what about their story excites you—talk about that! (Reminder that we always tell groups to spend their time, not their money—otherwise it will need to be reported to the FEC).

Note on Hosting Events with Candidates. In general, if you spend money on an event at which a candidate can advocate for their own election (or against someone else’s), that spending will be treated as an in-kind contribution to that candidate, unless the event falls into a specific exception. We recommend that groups avoid spending any money to host candidate events unless they have received guidance from a campaign finance attorney about how to structure the event. One way to avoid campaign finance implications is to host a candidate event without incurring any expenses. For instance, a group may be able to avoid spending money on a candidate event if they invite a candidate to do a Q&A at the end of the group’s regular meeting instead of hosting a separate event.

When Will This All Happen?

Endorsements will occur in rounds throughout the election cycle, with endorsed candidates announced at the end of each round. We plan to announce the first round of candidates around mid-November, with subsequent rounds announced about every 6 weeks. 

As of the launch of this guide, the first round of nominations is open! While the exact timeline will vary from round to round, generally nominations will remain open for around 3 weeks.

We’ll gather all nominated candidates and begin the vetting process. We’ll send all candidates our questionnaire, and give all campaigns a minimum of one week to respond. Candidates who pass the questionnaire will then be put to a vote of all Indivisibles on our email list in that state or district. In every round, online voting will be open for 3 days. Candidates must receive over 60 percent of the vote from participating Indivisibles. 

We’ll follow up with groups whose candidates are being endorsed to let them know and share out candidate graphics, and then make the announcement later in the week. 

Conclusion

If you’re going to be using this guide and making endorsements, please feel free to reach out to our organizing team. If you’re not sure who the organizer is for your area, email us at field@indivisible.org to get in touch. And please let us know when you make decisions so that we’re able to amplify the important work you’re doing.

As we roll out our National Endorsements program, we want to make sure we know who’s already gotten involved in the 2020 elections and how. Fill out this form so that we can learn more from you. 

Using your group’s resources, enthusiasm, and energy on behalf of great progressive candidates who represent their constituents is a meaningful way to show up for your community and take a positive stand against the Trump agenda. 

Getting involved in elections can be intimidating. But it’s also a great opportunity to further define your group’s values and goals, and to show up for inclusive progressive candidates in 2020 and beyond. Whether your group ultimately decides to endorse candidates this cycle or not, we hope considering the endorsement process will be useful as you plot out how to get involved in electoral politics.