General Election 2019 Summary

Better Prosecutors PAC contributed to November 2019 victories in vital races in Delaware and Chester Counties in Pennsylvania - including a key role in a close, contested DA race in Delco that came down to just over 5000 votes countywide, a three point margin. We reached 6400 people in a field campaign across three counties, including knocking on 2517 doors in Delco (and 4122 total doors). We released an impactful 30 second video ad primarily on social media, where it had over 28,000 Facebook impressions, leading to hundreds of views and dozens of shares in the final 36 hours of the campaign.

Two of our three endorsed District Attorney candidates won, while the third candidate in Dutchess County, New York appears to have fallen short by 800 votes out of over 66,000 cast. For 2019 as a whole, we’ve tallied two victories and two extremely close defeats. This suggests that we’re working in the right places, where small-scale actions can lead to outsize results. Our organization was effective in deliberately selecting fiercely competitive races months in advance, analyzing the contours of the campaigns and the relevant shifting demographics of these three purple suburban counties. We anticipated criminal justice reform trends in the electorate by monitoring reactions to national partisan politics.

We also meaningfully impacted downballot races, supplying the field volunteers and canvassers that helped elect the first-ever Democrats to the Eddystone Borough Council (all three winning by between 7 and 42 votes) and contributed to the municipality of Aldan flipping to Democratic control for the first time in an odd-number year (lower turnout, no national races) election in history. In Aldan, we canvassed 484 voters on the afternoon of Election Day alone, much more than the margin that separated Democratic and Republican turnout in the town. Overall, Delco as a whole flipped blue for the first time since the Civil War. Chesco, similarly, flipped blue, with our DA candidate winning by a comfortable ten point margin.

In 2019, Better Prosecutors raised $67,000 across the New York and Pennsylvania committees to benefit four DA races and several downballot campaigns. Many criminal justice reform organizations spent five to ten times as much on a single race, only to lose by ten points or more on Election Day. By staying flexible and close-to-the-ground, we ensured our spending was more impactful. We were able to play a decisive role in the historic successes in Eddystone and Aldan because we were on the ground months in advance, reaching out to local activists, rather than just dropping in an expensive ad buy to run the final week. We made two honest and hard-hitting ads and ran simultaneous Get Out The Vote canvasses 150 miles apart, but we would have achieved much more--won all four prosecutor races this year, given the narrow scope of the losses--if we’d been more successful with fundraising.

We will stay in close touch with our newly-elected friends in Aldan and Eddystone and the new prosecutors for Delaware and Chester Counties, and will return to Queens and Dutchess Counties as well. But none of those places will have prosecutor elections for another four years. So while we’ll continue to advocate for criminal justice reform goals where we’ve already been active, our campaign focus in Pennsylvania next year will be on environmental justice issues and on state legislative races. Control of the Pennsylvania state legislature after the 2020 election is extremely important! Democrats need to win three seats in the state senate and nine in the state house to take over. We’ll also be identifying District Attorney targets to support in 2020 (New York) and 2021 (both states). Finally, we intend to expand into New Jersey (which doesn’t elect county prosecutors) by supporting sheriff campaigns in all three states. The sheriff is a powerful position that typically runs the county jail, and this year in New York not a single sheriff had a competitive general election.