For 13 years, Wisconsin has been, by most accounts, the most gerrymandered state in the country. Their voting districts were a mess of jagged lines and mismatching barriers that were purposefully designed to reduce Democratic power in the state. That was, until a week ago when Governor Tony Evers signed into law new state legislative maps that will give Wisconsin voters a real choice in who represents them in the Capitol. The head of the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, a nonpartisan organization that grades district voting lines, had rated Wisconsin’s Republican-drawn districts an “F.” The new maps’ score? An “A” for fairness across the board.
Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Ben Wikler said it best. “The long, dark night of ultra-partisan gerrymandering is over, and a new day for democracy now dawns in the Badger State,” said Chair Wikler. “The stroke of Governor Evers’s pen today marks the end of the shameful period that began in 2011, when Republican lawmakers—bound in secrecy by nondisclosure agreements as they worked with operatives at a lobbying firm—drew legislative lines that guaranteed that even landslide election losses wouldn’t cost them their majorities. The result was one of the most egregious, extreme partisan gerrymanders in American political history.” [A link to WisDems full statement is HERE.]
The work of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin—also known as WisDems—is vital to the state. Their responsibility is to fund organizing for Democratic candidates, including Governor Tony Evers, who just signed in those crucial new district maps. Their work is tiring and never-ending in a perennial battleground state, but it pays off when wins like this week’s victories happen.
To fund these essential campaigns, Call Time Manager Hazel Erickson and Finance Assistant Sophie Plzak put in countless hours of call time. Coming off of strong wins during the 2022 midterms and a Supreme Court victory in 2023, they have been ramping up energy for 2024 to continue their winning streak and re-elect Democrats across the state.
With the new state maps announced, WisDems have a shot at flipping the State Legislature for the first time in over a decade. Under the Republican-drawn maps, it was next to impossible for Democrats to win majorities in the State Legislature, even when they won statewide like they did in 2018, 2020, and 2022. Republicans used their gerrymandered majorities to strip powers away from the offices of the Governor and Attorney General, pulling out all the stops to retain power for themselves. Now, for the first time since 2011, democracy is possible in Wisconsin once more.
Going into 2024, WisDems’ goals remain similar to past years: elect good candidates, solicit potential donors, expand their internship program, and increase donations for their party. But now, there’s an added twist and additional pressure. With new opportunities to flip the State Assembly and break the GOP supermajority in the State Senate, picking the right candidates and bringing in donations has never been so vital. For Erickson and Plzak, this means more time working, more calls to prepare, and lots of time staffing calls with WisDems Chair Wikler.
WisDems has used Pingdex for call time since 2022, significantly improving their past call time processes. They used to use paper sheets, or a Google slideshow for their call time, similar to most organizations and campaigns throughout the country. However, for WisDems, an organization that brought in over 4.8 million in donations last year, the new integration of Pingdex saves them valuable time that they need. It also allows Wikler to make calls on the go on his cell phone. With 2024 being such a critical year, saving time and easy accessibility has never been so important.
“Pingdex streamlines the process of moving donor information into digital call sheets instead of older ‘traditional’ call sheet models,” Hazel Erickson said.
Wisconsin, and WisDems are a state and party paving the way. Their hard work over the last few years has given them a resume of major election victories, which in turn are paying off for Wisconsinites, and has left them feeling confident and prepared to fight for the people of Wisconsin as they go into the 2024 election cycle. With so many important elections on the near horizon, their strong leadership, powerful tech (including Pingdex), and a motivated team has given them every tool to be successful and changemakers this upcoming year.