March 27, 2018

Spotlight on...Ventura County DSA

by Ventura County DSA Medicare for All Working Group

When Ventura County DSA worked on their own local Medicare for All campaign, they not only established relationships with potential activists and supportive voters in their own community — they strengthened solidarity with other chapters that passed on necessary skills and knowledge so that Ventura themselves could help other comrades.

At DSA Ventura County, we may be relatively new, fairly small and located outside a traditional hotbed of left-wing activism, but our Medicare for All canvassing is going strong. We average 12 to 14 canvassers at each event which has enabled us to pair experienced canvassers with first-timers. At our most recent canvass day, good conversations were had by all and we even found a few people interested in the chapter. Overall, the experience has been very positive. Many folks in the area are very supportive of single-payer healthcare, much more so than we initially anticipated.

Our success is due in part to our process around identifying areas to canvass. We’re fortunate enough to have the resources and technological expertise to target our efforts at specific groups of voters. Using voter data, we identify neighborhoods with large numbers of left-leaning voters then knock on doors of those individuals who have also voted in the last two elections. Even with this much filtering, we find hundreds of folks to talk to for each canvass. Our strategy is to turn as many liberals into leftists as possible. This has also helped us build our confidence in canvassing; many of us were nervous knocking on those first few doors, but knowing that the person answering may already be sympathetic to Medicare for All helped us get our feet wet, so to speak.

Another key component of our success is the huge amount of training, support, advice and materials we’ve received from both East Bay DSA and the national M4A working group. Every time we’ve reached out for assistance, our comrades have been amazingly generous with their time and expertise. Early on, East Bay DSA provided in-depth training, as well as a very thorough materials packet. Our current materials are all chapter-specific versions of the initial documents provided by East Bay. They also helped us understand how to get the most of all the data we’ve collected. 

Now that we’re up and running, we’re excited to share our newfound expertise with new chapters in the area. Members from Santa Barbara DSA and California Lutheran University YDS came to our last canvass. We shared all of our materials, gave as much advice & encouragement as possible and we will be here to support them every way we can as they build their own operations. We’re also using our canvassing skills to help other working groups within our own chapter — our healthcare working group will help train our electoral working group. With many local elections this year, canvassing will be essential to helping elect left-wing candidates to school boards and city councils. Integrating M4A canvassing with electoral work is a logical step forward for DSA Ventura County. We’re grateful to have the generous support from our comrades all around the county. We will pay it forward by sharing with other chapters and will work hard to build sustainable left-wing power here in Ventura County.