Q&A Election 2020: Schuyler Sheaffer Has a Plan For Us to Turn Out Voters

Schuyler Sheaffer political consultant
Photo via Schuyler Sheaffer

This is a new limited-Q&A series focusing on Election Day. I’ve approached an array of regional folks to ask them the same seven questions about the election. This election is complicated in ways we never thought possible, but there are paths forward.

Listening to what our neighbors are prioritizing and how they are framing the Biden/Harris ticket in particular is an urgent duty for each of us. I will be publishing as these are returned to me and will field new requests to contribute at [email protected]

Read the entire series here.

Next up is Schuyler Sheaffer a campaign leader and neighbor.

With so much riding on our state’s electoral votes, we desperately need to run up the score in Western PA as much as possible to offset Republican votes cast in other areas of the state. It’s not enough to simply win in the Pittsburgh area, a huge cushion is needed.

Your Name: Schuyler Sheaffer
Your Pronouns: He/Him/His
Your Affiliations: Campaign Manager – Frank Dermody for State Representative House District 33. Past campaigns: Emily Kinkead (State Representative House District 20), Bobby Wilson (Pittsburgh City Council District 1), Erika Strassburger (Pittsburgh City Council District 8), NextGen Climate.

How do you describe your identity? Cishet White Male

1. Why and how are you supporting the Biden/Harris ticket in the Presidential race? Every presidential election feels like the most pivotal of our lifetimes.  But 2020 could truly be that election which changes the lives of Americans in ways that we could have never imagined before this moment. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that our democracy is at stake here and that we are in a fight for the soul of our nation. To support the Biden/Harris ticket I’m currently working as the campaign manager for Frank Dermody, the State House Minority Leader. Since Trump’s election in 2016 I have been looking forward to being in the fight in 2020 and have envisioned myself working on the Democratic presidential campaign in some capacity.  In the years since, I’ve realized that if we help the bottom of the ticket we help the top, but this doesn’t necessarily work the other way around. Working for a down ballot race allows me to double my impact, turning out voters for both Biden and Dermody (as well as other Democrats up and down the ballot).


Donate to anyone I’ve already mentioned and please don’t wait to do so. The simple truth is that campaigns can’t do much with your money a week before election day. They can effectively use it now. Every little bit helps


2. What other Pennsylvania races on the “down ballot” should we be paying attention to as well? We need to flip the State House to Democratic control and we have a real shot to pick up the nine seats needed to make it happen. Western PA has elected some amazing progressive women (Emily Kinkead, Summer Lee, Sara Innamorato, Jessica Benham) the last few years. I want to give these women the majority in the State House so they have the votes to enact real progressive change in Pennsylvania. To that end I implore everyone reading this to reach out to the campaigns of Sharon Guidi (https://www.sharon4pa.com/), Sara-Summer Oliphant (https://sarasummeroliphant.com/), Lissa Geiger-Shulman (https://lissaforpa.com/action/), Michele Knoll (https://knoll4pa44.com/get-involved/), Emily Skopov (https://www.electemily4pa.com/ways-to-volunteer/) and my own campaign, Frank Dermody ([email protected]). Donate, make phone calls, canvas, write postcards – help anyway you can.   These candidates need your money and your time and they need it now. Lissa, Emily and Michele are our three best chances to pick up seats in Allegheny County. Additionally it is essential to hold onto Frank Dermody’s seat if we are to have any chance at a Democratic majority.

3. What races outside of Pennsylvania should we be paying attention to? The Senate. To ensure lasting damage isn’t done to our democracy we need to flip the Senate blue this election. There are numerous seats we have a realistic chance of flipping to Democratic control (one of them is not Amy McGrath in Kentucky, do not donate to her, I’m begging you, she can’t win). The two I have my eye on are Theresa Greenfield in Iowa and Jaime Harrison in South Carolina. Greenfield is running against Joni Ernst, a die hard Trumper. The Iowa race is currently a coin flip and Greenfield can effectively use every penny donated to her campaign. Jaime Harrison is running in South Carolina against Lindsey Graham and is in a dead heat at the moment. No Democrat has won a statewide election in South Carolina since 2006 and we have a real shot to pull this off.

Check the odds on other Senate races here:

https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2020-election-forecast/senate/

Donate at:

https://secure.actblue.com/donate/tg-search-q3

https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_harrison_fr_q12019_jaime-a

4. At this point in the race, where should I invest my $10 or $25 donation?

Donate to anyone I’ve already mentioned and please don’t wait to do so. The simple truth is that campaigns can’t do much with your money a week before election day. They can effectively use it now. Every little bit helps. Donate here:

https://secure.actblue.com/donate/dermodyforpa

https://secure.actblue.com/donate/committee-to-elect-sharon-guidi-pa-house-40th-1

https://secure.actblue.com/donate/committee-to-elect-sara-summer-oliphant-1

https://secure.actblue.com/donate/knoll4pa44-1

https://secure.actblue.com/donate/skopov2020

5. How important will Western Pennsylvania be in this election? Western PA could potentially be the epicenter of a seismic election. Almost every path to victory for Trump includes Pennsylvania. If the election comes down to one state, PA is the most likely candidate. With so much riding on our state’s electoral votes, we desperately need to run up the score in Western PA as much as possible to offset Republican votes cast in other areas of the state. It’s not enough to simply win in the Pittsburgh area, a huge cushion is needed. Much like Florida in 2000, there is a very good chance that on November 3rd and in the tense days following the election the eyes of the world will be on Pennsylvania.  It is no exaggeration to say that the fate of our country and humanity itself could be hanging in the balance with every vote cast in Pennsylvania.

6. What is your voting plan? As a campaign professional I don’t have time to vote in person so I always vote by mail. It is safe and secure and I have never had an issue! Request your mail-in ballot today at www.votespa.com and return it immediately. I need to urge everyone that upon completing their ballot, place it inside the secrecy envelope, then put that in the exterior envelope, and sign the exterior envelope. If you don’t perform this procedure properly your vote will not count!


In the years since, I’ve realized that if we help the bottom of the ticket we help the top, but this doesn’t necessarily work the other way around. Working for a down ballot race allows me to double my impact, turning out voters for both Biden and Dermody (as well as other Democrats up and down the ballot).


7. What else should I be asking? Talk to everyone you know (particularly in PA) and make sure they have a well-defined plan for how they will be voting this year. It has been shown time and time again that if people create a thought-out plan of how they will vote they are more likely to do so. In particular, identify those five people in your life who may be apathetic and probably wouldn’t vote normally and ask them to do it, even just as a personal favor to you. Then follow up! Remind them the weekend before the election, ask them what time they plan on going to the polls, or if they have returned their  mail-in ballot. Ask if they have any questions. Engage but don’t bully, keep voting at the forefront of their mind. Text them on election morning saying something like “Thank you for voting! Let me know if you have any questions today. Vote Blue!” Florida came down to 537 votes in 2000. The presidential race in PA could be just as close in 2020.  The 500 or so votes it might take to win could be secured just by the readers of this blog getting their friends to vote.  And don’t be shy when it comes to bragging about fulfilling your own civic duty.  Voting is performative so get out there and show us what you got!

Thank you, Schuyler.


Q&A Election 2020 is a limited-series Q&A with Western Pennsylvania residents. We ask them the same seven questions to create a database of perspectives that are representative of our region. I want to galvanize your interest and participation in this election. Please read the entire series. And suggest new participants!

In Pennsylvania, you can find information on voting, working the polls, and candidate resources at Votes PA. Confirm your voter registration status, request a mail-in ballot and more.

Western Pennsylvania voters

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