The progressive activist organization Indivisible answers that question for us. Indivisible has one of the largest rural footprints in the country, with rural groups and members in all 50 states. Below, they explain why we Democrats need to seek out and encourage rural voters to join our coalition in order to win elections and turn our country around.
Rural organizing is severely underinvested in, due in large part to the way rural areas are stereotyped as homogenous, MAGA strongholds. The idea that rural areas are unwinnable and marginal is shared by some campaigns and Democratic Party leaders, resulting in critical resources being pulled away from progressive rural organizing.
That’s a huge mistake. Rural areas are more diverse politically and racially than some might expect. People of color make up a fifth of the rural population and an even larger percentage in the Deep South and in the West. And contrary to stereotype, Democratic candidates routinely win over 30% of the vote in many rural areas. In an era of close elections, these rural votes are just as important as votes in urban and suburban areas.
The impact of grassroots efforts in rural areas can be seen in past elections:
- In Georgia, Black rural voters mobilized to help re-elect Sen. Raphael Warnock.
- In Arizona, progressive voters in the tribal nations as well as those in rural counties turned out to help defeat Blake Masters and Kari Lake.
- In Alaska, Indivisible rural group Stand Up Alaska played a crucial role in Rep. Mary Peltola’s upset wins in last year’s midterms.
And it’s more than just elections…
Rural communities also are on the frontlines of some of the biggest battles we face as a country:
- As fossil fuel companies threaten our climate, air, and water, rural Indivisible groups have fought against oil pipeline projects across the country.
- They’re challenging the power of corporate monopolies by fighting for the right to repair.
- They oppose book bans in schools and work to keep local libraries open as critical community hubs.
- And folks in these communities are often the most endangered by the spate of anti-LGBTQ+, anti-choice laws being passed across the country and the stigma that comes with them.
There is growing grassroots energy in rural communities across the country, and you can be part of it! Your donations and hard work are helping rural groups fuel that energy to drive lasting change. Visit Indivisible’s rural network, Indivisible Rural Caucus, to get involved in this critically important area. In addition, check out Force Multiplier’s Rural Democracy Initiative’s Rural Victory Fund, which supports key grassroots groups from rural areas in eight states. And keep your eyes out for grassroots actions coming from rural organizations posted on Turn Purple 2 Blue!
On Sept. 12th, Force Multiplier supports groups doing the critical work of organizing rural voters through the Rural Democracy Initiative’s Rural Victory Fund. Please join them by registering and donating. Why? It’s easy to assume that rural voters are MAGA supporters. The fact is that in 2020, Biden received 30-40% of the rural vote in key battleground states – and those votes helped Dems win critical Congressional seats and the Presidential election. That said, the margin of victory in seven of those states was less than 2%. To hold the Senate and White House in 2024, we need to protect and expand the rural vote.
Rural Arizona Action (RAZA) seeks to create more equitable and just systems through advocacy, accountability and leadership training in rural Arizona communities. RAZA was founded as a response to the lack of resources and year-round civic engagement opportunities available in rural Arizona. RAZA and Rural Arizona Engage, their affiliated 501(c)3 organization, educate, advocate and coordinate in rural communities to build communities of educated, empowered and engaged voters. RAZA develops long-term organizing capacity and creates professional development opportunities for rural organizers.