This election season, we have carved a path forward for poor and working-class communities like ours.
Importantly, we have held steady and asserted that the basis of American democracy is that we pick our leaders – our leaders do not pick their voters. Here in North Carolina, we continue to wait for the final election results in many races but we still want to reflect on what we do know.
We know that we should celebrate our successes: We turned out in record numbers despite everything they tried to put in our way. In Cabarrus County, voter turnout surpassed 97,400— a nearly 86% increase over 2016. Democratic turnout in Cabarrus County increased by an incredible 76% over 2016 — far higher than the North Carolina increase of 31%. This was due primarily to Black voters showing up at the Cabarrus County polls in unprecedented numbers– outperforming all other groups.
We know that our on-the-ground organizing played a key role in this incredible turnout at the polls. This year, Down Home created an enormous field program to engage rural voters. We engaged in 28,900 phone and text conversations with rural North Carolinians about voting, and another 11,363 conversations through our Relational Voter Turnout project, having friends talk to friends, neighbors talk to neighbors, and family talk to family.
We know this matters and made a difference. We know this because no one else is talking to the folks we are reaching in our communities. We know that every vote mattered in this election: Locally, Keshia Sandidge won her race for Cabarrus County School Board by just 482 votes. You helped us do that.
Not all our member-endorsed candidates won, however, we have always said that their is success in their running. Across rural North Carolina, Down Home supported Black, Brown, and working-class candidates who, just a few years ago, may never have considered putting their name on the ballot. We know that local candidates like Aimy Steele and Sabrina Berry are the future for Cabarrus County. We have only just begun.
We believe and will always believe that our small towns and country places are worth investing our time, resources, and love in. Why? Because we are from here. We were raised here and we are raising our children here. Small town and rural North Carolina has been under-organized as politicians and the big political parties focus on cities and suburbs. That’s why we created Down Home– the decades of ignoring rural working-class and poor folks is over.
Our work is barely over– It has just begun. Elections and voting have always been just tools in our toolbox as we build power. Just as important is holding those put into power accountable to poor and working-class communities that we live in and love here in North Carolina. And even more important is how we organize and care for each other, right here, at home.
This election is over, but the need to build power and organize deeply with poor and working-class folks has never been so clear. Come into our work. Down Home organizes year-round, every day, in our rural communities in Cabarrus County. Why? Because this is our home.
Ready to get involved? Contact Jasmine, our Cabarrus County Organizer, at j[email protected]