Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund at a women’s roundtable / Lorie Shaull

October 5, 2016; Refinery 29

As we anticipated last year around now, it’s time for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAF) to get into the national electoral campaign. This year, although the focus is on the presidential race, PPAF will work to flip the U.S. Senate to be controlled by pro-women’s health advocates and to ensure sympathetic leadership at the gubernatorial level as well.

We will be interested to see if the group can match its performance of 2012, which we wrote up at that time in our nonprofit newswire:

“According to an analysis by the Sunlight Foundation, if you judged political effectiveness by ROI, Planned Parenthood Votes and Planned Parenthood Action surpassed all other groups active in more than one election. Planned Parenthood Votes spent a little more than $5 million and achieved a 98.45 percent ROI and Planned Parenthood Action spent almost $7 million and achieved a 98.11 percent success rate. Altogether, Planned Parenthood related groups spent $15 million, which was more than triple what it spent in 2008.

“As a comparison, the largest spender listed was American Crossroads, Karl Rove’s super PAC, which spent almost $105 million and achieved a 1.29 percent success rate. Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, a nonprofit social welfare organization also affiliated with Rove, spent at least another $70.7 million (although it is listed as $130 million elsewhere on the Sunlight site). Crossroads GPS is listed as having a success rate of 14.4 percent. The Sunlight Foundation figured the ROI based on ‘how much of their money went to support candidates who won and to oppose candidates who lost in the general election campaign.’ Their figures do not include expenditures for primaries or special elections. It also did not list groups that were active in only one election.

“The Planned Parenthood success, according to this article, was based on two things: using former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s own words against him, and employing algorithms to identify one million female voters, largely in swing states, who would be especially receptive. We would add a third: the existing constituency of women across this country that is already attached to the real value proposition of accessible reproductive services to communities.”

As this election draws near, PPAF has more to spend. According to the Refinery 29 article, it will spend the larger part of $30 million in key battleground states, including Wisconsin, Nevada, Ohio, North Carolina, and New Hampshire. Around 3,500 volunteer campaigners and 800 paid staffers will be going door to door. The campaign is hoping to reach 2 million voters with this face-to-face canvass.

NPQ will keep an eye on the results for you.—Ruth McCambridge