In our inaugural year, we engaged with fellow South Asian Americans to successfully flip two seats in the CA-Congress to blue
They See Blue (Desi Blue) was founded in July 2018 by four of our members (all South-Asians or “Desis”) who were galvanized into action by the catastrophic election result of 2016. Each of our co-founders had followed his own path into activism after the 2016 election. They decided to spring into action using their collective experience to inspire fellow Desis into grassroots activism and constructive endeavors. They had a kickoff meeting in early August 2018 with a group of like-minded friends to kick off the movement.
For the 2018 midterm election, we had a modest goal: to help flip the House of Representatives from Republican to Democratic. We identified three Republican-held House seats in California’s Central Valley (CA-10, CA-21 and CA-22) and decided to support the Democratic candidates in those races: Josh Harder, TJ Cox and Andrew Janz
Over the next three months, we executed a detailed plan to flip these seats, including fundraisers and get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts such as canvassing, voter registration, phone banking, mailing flyers, text banking and radio spots. We realized that our voter engagement efforts were much more successful with fellow Desis, since we could establish instant rapport based on our shared background and cultural identity. This “secret sauce” really helped us maximize our results in voter awareness and engagement.
As the word spread about our group and our unique approach, our mission began to resonate with the Desi community in the Bay Area. We grew to over 200 members and reached out to thousands of Desi voters in Central Valley. Our efforts bore fruit: two of the three candidates we supported (Josh Harder and TJ Cox) won by narrow margins. The third candidate who didn’t win (Andrew Janz, running against Devin Nunes) narrowed the gap by 30 percentage points vs. the previous election (5% vs. 35%). We had to be patient: the CA-21 race was called nearly a month after the election and TJ Cox came from behind to win by only 862 votes!
Our efforts were recognized by all the three candidates we supported (including two newly elected Congressmen!) and they sent us personal videos expressing appreciation for our work to get them elected. You can find the videos here. We were heartened and energized by our success in the 2018 election. In 2020, we are scaling our Desi-to-Desi outreach model to the national level!