Progressives Built an Organizing Juggernaut for 2020. Then the Virus Hit.

There have been some silver linings for progressive candidates. Ms. Harper and Mr. Patel have ramped up digital contact with voters and repurposed campaign tools to provide information about coronavirus safety.

Jamaal Bowman, a progressive who is mounting a campaign against the stalwart incumbent Representative Eliot L. Engel in New York’s 16th Congressional District, pivoted to an online-only operation in a matter of days, said his campaign manager, Luke Hayes.

“One of the things about having such a broad base of small donors is that while asking them for that recurring donation of 10 dollars a month, you cultivate a relationship with them,” Mr. Hayes said. “I think some incumbents, you know, they just expect kind of checks brought in just based on their stature.”

Just as in the business world, where new digital tools have exploded in use, fresh political technology is also helping to fill gaps. Outvote, a political start-up in Boston that allows users to send voting and other political information to people in their social networks, has seen a rise in interest from progressive campaigns and causes as the pandemic spreads. Some have begun using Outvote to disseminate information about how to guard against the virus, said Naseem Makiya, the company’s founder.

On Thursday, the Progressive Turnout Project, a political action committee that supports liberal candidates, announced a nearly $3 million investment in phone banking that aims to leverage up to 12 million calls from volunteers to lower-propensity Democratic voters before Election Day in November.

“The more impersonal the mode, the less effective you’re going to get,” said Alex Morgan, the group’s executive director. “So while it is great that a bunch of groups are hopping onto text messages and digital, that’s more distant than you and I having a conversation right now.”

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