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The storied “swing voter” has long been portrayed as key to electoral victory in the battleground state of Ohio. Much as Moby Dick’s Captain Ahab obsessed over the white whale, traditional democratic operatives have obsessed over reclaiming the lost white (usually working-class and male) voter. However, grassroots organizations like the Ohio Organizing Collaborative reject a singular focus on chasing on-the-fence voters.

“All of our work is focused on electorate expansion,” said Molly Shack, co-executive director of the Ohio Organizing Collaborative. The organization sees the real “swing voters” as the people who go back and forth between voting and not voting, and not the “Obama-Trump voters” who switched between the two major parties in 2012 and 2016. A central question for the organization is how to talk to people left out by traditional political engagement, focusing on advocacy around “issues that impact our lives day to day,” according to Shack.

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