Lindsay Powell PA House Representative
Case Study

Restoring the Democratic majority in the Pennsylvania House | Lindsay Powell

Restoring the Democratic majority in the Pennsylvania House

For the first time in over a decade, the Pennsylvania House flipped blue after Democrats won a majority of seats in 2022. However, one of those legislators resigned to run for a different seat during the 2023 cycle, creating a special election in Pennsylvania’s 21st House District. With the majority hanging in the balance and taking nothing for granted, Lindsay Powell ran a comprehensive campaign to win the special election and restore the Democratic majority in the Pennsylvania House.


The Powell campaign used NGP VAN software to recruit dozens of volunteers from across Pennsylvania

Raised and tracked through NGP for the special election
  • Powell wins with
    of the votes

Flipping the Pennsylvania House blue in 2022 and keeping it blue in 2023

In 2022, Democrats won a one-seat majority in the Pennsylvania House, flipping the state House blue for the first time in over a decade. However, for a variety of reasons, several special elections occurred in 2023, including one for Pennsylvania’s 21st House District. After Democratic State Representative Sarah Innamorato resigned to run for Allegheny County executive, it created an even split in the Pennsylvania House of 101 Democrats and 101 Republicans and triggered the creation of a special election. With the deciding vote hanging in the balance, House Speaker Joanna McClinton scheduled the special election for September 19, 2023 – just 60 days after the seat became vacant.

Lindsay Powell, a former nonprofit director, stepped up to run for the seat on a platform that prioritized expanding access to safe and dignified housing, addressing the needs of working families, and raising the minimum wage. Building upon her history as a lifelong community servant, she previously served as the assistant chief of staff at the City of Pittsburgh where she oversaw the city’s digital equity program, expansion of the summer free lunch program during the pandemic, and more. She also worked as a Congressional staffer for U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer and U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries.

After securing the nomination in a caucus (a meeting in which precinct committee members vote for a party’s nominee in special circumstances) with several other viable candidates, Powell geared up for the special election by quickly assembling a campaign team, raising money, and contacting voters with 45 days until the date of the special election. Despite the district leaning historically towards Democrats, Powell and her campaign didn’t take anything for granted. They executed a well-developed campaign, scaling up fundraising and voter outreach efforts quickly with NGP VAN software that helped the campaign track over $90,000 in donations and contact thousands of voters in the 21st House District.

Using NGP to save time, track contributions, and file campaign finance reports

With a short timeline before Election Day and the need to raise enough money to get out the vote, the campaign needed a trusted and familiar tool to efficiently track their fundraising and file compliance reports. They chose to invest in NGP, our fundraising and compliance database, to help quickly track contributions, build donor profiles, and file their required campaign finance reports. In the short time before Election Day, Powell raised over $90,000 to ensure the campaign had the financial resources it needed to win. Tracking all those contributions and filing compliance reports with NGP was easy too, saving the campaign valuable time during the shortened election cycle. 

While NGP was a needed investment for the short special election cycle, it was also an investment for future success. It’s a great product to build long-term growth and support for campaigns and causes because it centralizes and stores your donors’ information, making it easier to act on in the future. If you’re planning on running for re-election, having a fundraising database with your donors’ past donation histories, contact information, and engagement data can help you kick-start your fundraising efforts once you launch your re-election campaign. Plus, built-in features like audit trails for accountability, error flags for incorrect data entries, and permissions that limit user access help prevent problems before they occur. All 203 House seats are up for election in 2024, so it was a valuable decision to invest in a fundraising database to win in 2023 and set the campaign up for success in 2024. 

"With 45 days until the special election, I knew the tools we needed to use, so we got set up on NGP quickly for our compliance needs."

Carver Murphy
Campaign Manager for Lindsay Powell for State Representative

Lindsay Powell State Rep Logo

Using Mobilize to power their volunteer recruitment and event management needs

Lindsay Powell stands with dozens of volunteers heading out to knock doors.
Lindsay Powell stands with dozens of volunteers heading out to knock doors.

In 2022, the Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus used Mobilize to recruit and mobilize 2,000 volunteers to help flip the Pennsylvania House blue. As the Powell campaign quickly got up to speed, they also used Mobilize to build volunteer capacity and host campaign events across the district. While most of the volunteers were recruited directly by the campaign, some volunteers knew to go to Mobilize to find opportunities to help with the special election and protect the Democratic majority in the state House. With assistance from Mobilize and other software from NGP VAN, the campaign helped make the most of their limited time and resources.

Using NGP VAN software to win the special election in Pennsylvania’s 21st House District

Lindsay Powell prepares to launch a canvass with local elected officials.
Lindsay Powell prepares to launch a canvass with local elected officials.

Using VAN, our best-in-class organizing software, the Powell campaign conducted voter outreach to thousands of voters in the 21st House District. The campaign executed a ballot chase program to follow up with thousands of Democrats who requested mail-in ballots. With regular early voting and absentee voting updates in VAN, the campaign could track where voters were in the mail-in voting process, making it easier to target voters and have relevant conversations with them. For instance, the campaign could reach out to voters with outstanding mail-in ballots or voters who recently requested their ballots to encourage them to send their ballots back as soon as possible.

This program garnered support for Powell early, as Democrats had a 71% return rate while Republicans had a 66% return rate for their mail-in ballots. But over 4,000 more Democrats requested mail-in ballots in the first place, leading to a significant vote buffer that helped set the campaign up for success on Election Day. 

The campaign also used MiniVAN to power their canvassing efforts across the district. With dozens of canvassers helping Powell get elected, the campaign saved countless hours of data entry by empowering their volunteers to use MiniVAN and input valuable information (like answers to Survey Questions or Activist Codes) directly into VAN. This information was critical to the campaign’s success as it allowed them to further refine their outreach efforts as Election Day approached. 

The Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus also hosted phone banks to help power voter contact from volunteers around the state. Using OpenVPB, our virtual phone banking software, the Caucus made it easy for volunteers to call voters, gather and input helpful information into the software, and encourage voters to cast their ballots for Powell in the special election.  


Combining these direct voter outreach efforts with additional direct mail, texting, and digital advertising, Powell won handily on election night. Winning 65% of the vote, Powell made history as the first Black woman elected to represent the 21st House District. By taking nothing for granted, the campaign’s work led to impressive turnout in a special election, outperforming other Democratic campaigns by 13% to 17% according to Powell’s campaign. Her election restored the Democratic majority in the Pennsylvania House, helping ensure Democratic priorities are considered in the legislature of the fifth most populous state in the U.S.

NGP VAN helps power winning campaigns

We’re proud to partner with campaigns like Lindsay Powell for State Representative to empower state legislative campaigns to efficiently raise money, file compliance reports, and execute voter outreach. Every election cycle, NGP VAN powers campaigns up and down the ballot to victory by providing the tools they need to win. By investing in our powerful and industry-leading products, the Powell campaign was able to quickly scale up their operations on a shortened timeline to run a full-fledged campaign to restore the Democratic majority in the Pennsylvania House and set the campaign up for success in 2023, 2024, and beyond.