California's 49th: Flip the 49th! Neighbors in Action

Fight for Better provided $60K in seed funding and additional support for Flip the 49th to launch in 2017. 

“We started with a vision of what we needed to do, and created a 42-page treatise on how to get there. We looked for support. We needed partners. And we kept coming up empty. We didn’t have a traditional approach, so people kept saying, ‘No.’Fight provided us with the catalytic capital we needed to start us on our way.”

Dr. Terra Lawson-Remer, PhD, Co-Founder, Flip the 49th 


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CA-49 was at the top of every 2018 political “watch list”—one of the most contested swing seats in the nation. In 2016, the Hillary Clinton won the district, and the Democratic challenger for the congressional seat lost by fewer than 1,700 votes. In addition, approximately 20,000 Republicans supported Republican Rep. Issa but voted against Trump, and are potential swing voters. A study by the Flip the 49th team also found that “infrequent voters” (those who vote in presidential elections but not in midterms) are overwhelmingly Democrats. 




The founder of Flip the 49th! is Dr. Terra Lawson-Remer, a political economist, professor and senior advisor at the U.S. Department of the Treasury in the Obama Administration.  Flip the 49th! enlisted over 10,000 volunteers and connected with over 25,000 voters. In addition, seed funding from Fight for Better helped catalyze the formation of the 49th District Action Council, a coalition of over 100 independent progressive groups focused on coordinating, rather than duplicating, efforts, including meetings with elected officials, issue-specific protests, town halls and the general sharing of strategies



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Flip the 49th! created visibility for specific issues via larger scale events, and promoting dialogue through door-to-door canvassing. For months, hundreds of concerned constituents gathered weekly at 10 am for “Tuesdays with Issa” protests in front of Issa’s Vista office and held town halls and rallies around specific issues–which many cite as a factor in Issa’s decision to retire. Flip the 49th! also did the kind of persuasion-based canvassing that has been shown to effectively engage swing voters, alongside major registration drives.  Working on all fronts (with base, swing and new registrations) ensures they are reaching all the voters needed for a victory in November.

Examples of Right Tactics + Results:

Used a data-driven research-based model (see summary of strategy paper), knocked 40K+ doors, made 50K+ calls May ‘17 - Nov ‘18

Fight for a Better America’s pilot investment built on its success as it turn Issa’s retirement into a Democratic victory in November. Read our full case study here.