A group of people in the EA community (and some outside it) have come to Oregon's new sixth congressional district to help campaign for Carrick Flynn. He's competing in the Democratic congressional primary, for which mail-in ballots are due Tuesday. We are knocking on doors to canvas for Carrick, and others are making phone calls from elsewhere. But warm leads are better than cold ones, so:
If you know anyone eligible to vote in Oregon's sixth congressional district, please talk to them or put us in touch with them (if they're happy with that) this weekend! Otherwise, please consider coming over and knocking on doors, liking campaign posts, phone banking (calling lists of voters, which can be done remotely), and/or donating.
In these very final days, supporting Carrick Flynn’s national-level congressional campaign might be an unusually high-EV (and time-sensitive) opportunity. The race is especially close, and Carrick Flynn looks like an exceptionally good candidate. To my knowledge, he's the first congressional candidate to make pandemic preparedness a key focus. To his knowledge, no-one really opposed Biden's $65bn post-COVID pandemic preparedness bill (which Carrick helped write), but it was barely funded because it was no-one's 'core issue'. Unlike heavily politicised issues, which usually have Congress in gridlock, the chances of passing important legislation on topics that haven't yet been politicised may be significant. This means Carrick could make significant progress even as a junior member (though I imagine most of the impact of his election would emerge in years to come).
For context: Carrick is a former FHI and CSET researcher and helped Allan Dafoe found the Centre for the Governance of AI at Oxford. Carrick’s wife Kathryn, who’s playing a large role in the campaign, is the founder of WANBAM. To our knowledge, Carrick would be the first US congressperson to have a strong understanding of EA ideas and existential AI risk and biorisk. Carrick grew up in the district, has a compelling personal narrative (escaping poverty and then choosing a life of service).
Do you, and others you know, have time to prioritize helping out the Flynn campaign for the final days of the race? Whether you can directly knock on doors or not, here are some actions for you to take.
1. Knock on doors (literally and figuratively)!
5O EAs are now knocking on doors and it seems to be going particularly well. The last day to mail-in ballots is May 17, so you can still go - fast! Canvassing is especially effective during the weekend. If you're interested, you can DM Akash R. Wasil or Kuhan Jeyapragas an on FB messenger or email Akash (email@example.com).
Importantly, if you know anyone eligible to vote in Oregon's sixth congressional district, please talk to them or put us in touch with them (if they're happy with that) this weekend! If they have any questions, they can chat with us.
And if you know people who live in Oregon and share your values about helping as many people as possible, reach out to them - they can also spread your message.
2. Like campaign media posts, especially if you're in Oregon!
They will be on the official campaign Facebook and Twitter
3. Phone bank!
Phone banking (calling lists of voters) is still a great option and a good way to establish a real connection with the voters. It can be done remotely, though the Pacific timezone (GMT-7) may make it difficult for people in some locations. Please fill out this form if you’d be interested in phone banking. You can do phone banking any day in the coming days. We’ve read that there is a threefold difference between the effects of having a phone banker that is genuinely excited about Carrick and someone who was simply paid to call (sorry, we don’t have the precise reference).
Despite heavy PAC spending in support of Carrick, it’s plausible that there are still significant returns on the campaign’s own spending (due to e.g. constraints on the sorts of ads PACs can run). There are still a few hours for the ads to be useful - in the 24-48 hours for the funding to be useful. Here’s a new Fermi estimate about why giving to Carrick is cost-effective. You must be a US citizen or permanent resident.
Let us know if you have any questions. Thanks so much!
Polling and other recent developments suggest that the race will probably be pretty close. (Carrick was leading but his leads tended to decrease due to a surge in attacks on Carrick and a new influx of PAC money supporting the other leading candidate). With about 47% chance of Carrick winning, we are really close and your support can really move the needle towards his win.
I volunteered over the weekend on the campaign door-knocking. the team are hardworking and largely made up of EAs. If anyone can help on the phone banks before the day ends then I expect it would have a substantial EV impact.