DNC adds red states Georgia and Texas to list of 2020 targets

Democrats are adding the rapidly diversifying Southern states to the list of places they're focusing on, in addition to battleground states like Wisconsin.
Image: Len Edgerly and Darlene Determan knock on a door while canvasing for Pete Buttigieg in Des Moines, Iowa, on Feb. 2, 2020.
Len Edgerly and Darlene Determan knock on a door while canvasing for Pete Buttigieg in Des Moines, Iowa, on Feb. 2, 2020.Joshua Lott / Getty Images file

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By Alex Seitz-Wald

The Democratic National Committee is adding the Republican strongholds of Georgia and Texas to its targets for the 2020 election, making such diversifying states slated for multimillion-dollar investments, party officials told NBC News.

The national party last month began its effort in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, North Carolina and Arizona. And on Tuesday, the party will announce the next round of targeted states in its “Battleground Build Up 2020” program: Georgia, Texas, Ohio, New Hampshire, Nevada and Virginia.

The new states include conservative places where Democrats have been hoping to make long-term gains by mobilizing growing communities of color, including Georgia, where both Senate seats will be up for grabs in November, and Texas, where Democrats have been chipping away at Republican dominance in the state Legislature and dream of one day turning the entire state blue.

The party also added Ohio to its battleground map, a state that has been quickly trending Republican in recent years, as well as the purple-blue states of New Hampshire, Nevada and Virginia, where Democrats have been consistently winning, though by relatively narrow margins.

“The DNC is making historic, early investments to build strong, multiple pathways for our eventual nominee to win in November and support Democrats at every level of the ballot,” said DNC Chair Tom Perez. “By investing in these states now we’re putting the Trump campaign on defense, helping ensure our eventual nominee will be able to grow their general election operation as quickly as possible, and helping make sure that every Democrat running for office has the infrastructure they need to be successful. Every week brings a new example of how Donald Trump has broken his promises and hurt working families — and this program will help build the infrastructure we need to beat him.”

One goal of the program is to expand the number of possible pathways to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency for whoever wins the Democratic presidential primary. The party is also trying to help Democrats win down-ballot, such as state legislature races, which will be critical to the decennial redistricting process that begins after this year’s census.

The buildup, which the DNC says comes earlier than similar efforts by the national party in past election cycles, will provide resources to state Democratic parties in the 12 selected battleground states to allow them to roughly double their number of field organizers, hire more staff to manage data and handle other behind-the-scenes operations.

The DNC this year also purchased a list of cellphone numbers as it attempts to build a database of every possible voter in all 50 states to help it contact voters.

These kinds of investments could be more important than ever as the Democratic presidential primary is expected to drag on for some time, potentially even ending in a contested national convention, which would give the eventual nominee less time to prepare for the fall campaign.

But the Republican National Committee and President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign have consistently out-fundraised the DNC, meaning there is plenty of catchup left to do for the out-of-power party.