John Aravosis has the story. Here's a leaked e-mail from Andy Tobias, DNC Treasurer, to donors:
1. An email went out asking activists to make calls to New Jersey. It was insensitive not to omit Mainers from that email. I apologize that no one thought to do that. I can't imagine it could have cost No On One even a dozen votes, but I still wish someone would have thought of this in time to catch it. Mistake noted.
2. A different email went out to Mainers urging them to vote. As the only thing of substance anyone was voting on in Maine was Question One, and as Democratic activists vote our way, this was a small but positive effort to be helpful.
I would have liked to see that email discuss No One One directly, in case there may have been an email-enabled Organizing for America activist someplace in Maine who did NOT know where Maine Democrats stood on this issue. (Out of the country without Internet access until the night before the election?) But I'm told there was concern that advocating specifically for a ballot initiative, whether LGBT or otherwise, would set a precedent for every other ballot initiative. Bureaucracies are nervous about setting precedents.
So a couple of things:
John was in Maine with me the last couple of days, and I spoke with him while all this was going on and he was getting responses from the DNC. We now know that the DNC official either deliberately lied or misled John to squash the story, or the DNC official hastily and stupidly spoke to him without the later facts (that it was a glitch). Either way, it's fucked up.
I spoke with another DNC official today after my piece on the OFA's fuckups/refusals to help, and that official told me "Some Mainers inadvertently got the email, but it was not sent to our Maine list." I was also told that this was a "glitch", and the quote above confirms that. Okay, one might think, a glitch is your system has a few people with the wrong zip codes in them, so they get a blast meant for someone else. Whoops. Fine. That's not actually what happened. What happened, per Tobias' e-mail, is the DNC did a large e-mail blast on this, and wanted to make sure Mainers didn't get that e-mail, for fear that the gays might find out and ask, how come we didn't get this kind of help?
It's kind of like being forwarded a party invite the host doesn't want you to come to, and when you show up, everyone gets silent and it's a-w-k-w-a-r-d. The party, in this case, was electoral help, and OFA wanted to make sure people didn't find out it was being grossly insensitive by not extending an invitation to the gays in Maine. Awesome.
Andy Tobias needs a serious date with electoral organizing reality. He wrote of the insensitivity, "I can't imagine it could have cost No On One even a dozen votes". Just like the White House saying "but but but we invite them to conference calls!" over the "internet left fringe" comment, this misses the point by a mile, and belies a misunderstanding of how campaigns work.
The point is that mobilizing Maine OFA members could have done wonders for the campaign. If Maine OFA members had been mobilized to canvass, give, phonebank, and other activities at different points in the campaign, then we absolutely would have picked up well over a dozen votes. I remember going to Arlington, VA to volunteer the weekend before Election Day 2008. They turned me away because they had more volunteers than they needed. In Maine, there were canvass sites on the weekend before Election Day that did not have enough volunteers in them.
I personally know both of the leaders at DriveforEquality and TravelforChange, who worked insane hours to collect donated airline miles, set up ActBlue donation pages, and coordinate logistics of hotel rooms, rides, etc. to get volunteers from other states into Maine. People wouldn't have had to take time off work and spend money to travel to a corner of the nation if OFA mobilized Mainers to help in their own state. They didn't.
Andy seems to mock LGBT complaints in his #3 point by saying it would have been nice to ask Mainers to vote No "in case there may have been an email-enabled Organizing for America activist someplace in Maine who did NOT know where Maine Democrats stood on this issue. (Out of the country without Internet access until the night before the election?)"
Again, Andy, you're missing the point. One of the biggest priorities for this campaign in an off-year election was turning out young voters, and that was no secret. Lots of OFA activists are young people. I've organized GOTV for young people in 2004 at my alma mater. Young people don't vote just because they know where Maine Dems stand on the issue or they get a bland OFA e-mail reminding them to vote. College students vote after you've given them 25 reasons to, dorm-stormed, called them, set up voter reg tables in the student union, set up shuttle buses to polling places (which the No On 1 campaign did at UM-Orono), have Dave Matthews Band perform at their campus to encourage voting, and basically drag them kicking and screaming to do it. If you want to win campaigns, you have to mobilize people, not just send them an e-mail and pat yourself on the back.
So rolling your eyes and saying "but OFA activists knew where Maine Dems stood on the issue anyway, and we sent them an e-mail, so what's all the fuss about" is irresponsible.
The "concern" that getting involved in ballot initiatives would force them to get involved in every initiative is false. As John pointed out, the DNC sent $25,000 to the No On 8 campaign in CA. President Carter came out against the Briggs Initiative in 1978. I'm sure there are more examples of the party getting involved in ballotland. And what's more, we're talking about an e-mail here, people. Not multiple campaign stops, which Obama gave Corzine and Deeds. Not vast organizing on a grand scale. E-mails.
It is getting harder and harder to give LGBT people a good reason to actively support this Administration and the DNC. I, for one, would like to see an apology from the DNC over all this.