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Our New Research on the Democratic Talent Pipeline

February 07, 2024

I’m excited to share with you the findings of our new research with Dalberg Advisors—Mapping Tomorrow’s Leaders: A Landscape Analysis of the Democratic Talent Pipeline.

Since our founding, Arena has recognized that Democrats’ ability to win elections and
govern effectively hinges on the strength, diversity, and sustainability of the Democratic
talent pipeline.

Yet, even as Arena has invested in and evangelized about the importance of this work, there has been relatively little analytic research on the Democratic talent pipeline, and how it differs in size and scope from Republican efforts at talent cultivation—until now.

This fall, Arena commissioned renowned consulting firm Dalberg Advisors to conduct a landscape analysis of the democratic talent pipeline and to compare that to Republican efforts to recruit, cultivate, and retain talent. As covered in NBC News, the results are in, and they are striking, demonstrating a substantial Democratic investment gap when it comes to pipeline work that is undermining our ability to win up and down the ballot. Notably:

When comparing the five largest Republican and Democratic pipeline building organizations, the Dalberg analysis found that Republicans invest four times as much as Democrats in supporting pipeline work.

In 2020 alone, a single Republican organization spent more on pipeline building infrastructure than the top 10 progressive organizations spent combined.

Importantly, though, the Dalberg analysis noted that we can move the needle on this problem, and we can do it this cycle. A mere 1-2% shift in Democratic political dollars towards pipeline work would close the funding gap with Republicans. At a time when many Democratic donors have been pulling back, the Dalberg analysis indicates that it is actually a time to lean in.

Indeed, this investment is critical, particularly when it comes to the heart of Arena’s work: building the teams that power Democratic victories. Candidates are only as strong as their teams. However, the Dalberg analysis found that Democrats continue to face difficulties in building and retaining a robust and diverse talent pipeline of campaign staff, with implications from the state and local levels all the way up to the presidential campaign.

Our decisions now will shape how effectively we are able to staff races in 2024. This is the time to invest to lay the groundwork for victory. I invite you to review the Executive Summary of the Dalberg analysis below. Together, we can right the ship and put Democrats on a course to win.

Read the Executive Summary

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