Each week, we ask voters about what issue they think is the most urgent facing America right now. So let’s say it was curious that one voter said, “Spring training was too short.”
Now I don’t really follow baseball but I knew there was a lockout. And I’d have thought the fact there is baseball happening at all (something is happening today, although I bet the Nats get rained out) would have been welcome. Not if you own a shop around a (spring training) park or are a vendor. (The notation with this comment is that the voter had some choice words, and I am only assuming that they didn’t make money from Spring Training.) But it is a reminder that voters don’t fit neatly into the results of polling that aims to represent a cross section of the United States.
Inflation was, once again the top Issue mentioned when we asked, “What Issue do you believe is most Urgent for Arizona.” Military Issues, including Nato’s response to Ukraine, was second and crime was the third most mentioned issue. We are getting some variation that we didn’t really see last month.
Hope Springs from Field PAC led canvasses in the suburbs of the two Arizona metropolitan areas last Saturday. We have been knocking on the doors of Democrats and Independents in the western suburbs of both Phoenix and Tucson, swing neighborhoods were at least three conservative groups have also been out knocking on doors, although one is totally focused on a single issue. It is clear that there is a ground war going on in Arizona, and we need to rise to the challenge here.
Like our Swing State canvasses last year, we walk with an Issues Questionnaire. Especially early in the cycle, where volunteers aren’t as comfortable with their campaign spiel, the Issues Survey allows for the voter to lead the conversation. Volunteers, then, are more focused on prompts, things that spur more thought and conversation so that we have a fuller picture of what motivates the voter.
We knock on the doors of Democratic and Independent voters, which means we aren’t seeing responses from anyone (yet) who identifies as Republican. At every door, we leave a piece of “show the flag” lit, something that tells them we were there and hopefully reinforces the Democratic brand. By our work and our presence we are trying to convey that Democrats care and we listen. The lit focuses on the things voters told us were important to them last fall, aiming to appeal to every voter. Far and away the number one issue that the voters we talked to in the Senate Swing States was inflation or price increases, and I imagine that concern has only increased since November.
But the main focus of our canvassing right now is the Issues Survey, asking voters for their input and concerns. We find that most voters who aren’t in a hurry or in the middle of something are willing to answer at least a couple of these questions, especially their top issue or concern and their views of President Biden. Voter responses to the questionnaire are entered into VAN and made available to all Democratic candidates who use VAN in the state after the primary. Creating this kind of data isn’t done with a specific goal in mind but has the purpose of engaging voters and creating a dataset that any Democratic candidate can use in opposition to a Republican.
Collecting data about the Issues that voters actually think and talk about, though, is extraordinarily useful for Democratic campaigns, and the data we collect will be available to all Democrats who use VAN after the primaries.
Support (measured as job approval) for President Biden dipped slightly (two percentage points in Arizona this week) but still above 70%. In one of those strange happenstances, disapproval of the job Biden is doing also dipped this week. Support for Senator Kelly grew this week (74% told us they approved of the job Kelly was doing), and his disapproval numbers was at its lowest point so far.
This approach, using the Issues survey as our main conversational entry point, is really simple for people who have never canvassed before. The Issues Survey means that instead of persuading voters to accept that campaign’s issues priorities, we are asking voters to tell us about their issues priorities. For volunteers who are nervous about canvassing, this approach really allows them to ease into it, and really takes the pressure off. Voter responses to the questionnaire are entered into VAN and made available to all Democratic candidates who use VAN in the state after the primary. Creating this kind of data isn’t done with a specific goal in mind but has the purpose of engaging voters and creating a dataset that any Democratic candidate can use in opposition to a Republican.
This approach also means volunteers don’t have to be prepped to talk authoritatively about Democratic or Democratic candidates’ issues and priorities. In fact, we discourage answering these kinds of questions. One reason (but by no means the only reason) we walk with Q(uestion) Slips and Observation Forms is to keep the focus on the voter and their concerns, not the campaigns’ or candidates’. If voters have a question, we fill out a Q-slip and let the campaigns/candidates speak for themselves. And we discovered last year that, if we do somehow end up talking to a Trumpist or Fox News consumer, this approach really circumvents their “own a lib” strategies.
Hope Springs from Field PAC has been knocking on doors in a grassroots-led effort to increase awareness of the fact that Democrats care about our voters and are working to protect their rights, and, in March, we will begin an even bigger effort. We are thinking about how to mitigate Voter Suppression efforts, get around them and make sure we have "super compliance," both informing and helping our voters meet the requirements and get out and vote. We are taking those efforts to the doors of the communities most effected (the intended targets or victims) of these new voter suppression laws.
Obviously, we rely on grassroots support, so if you support field/grassroots organizing, voter registration (and follow-up) and our efforts to protect our voters, we would certainly appreciate your support:
Hope Springs from Field PAC was started by former Obama Field Organizers because field was the cornerstone of our success. But the reason we won the Iowa Caucus in 2008 was because we registered voters and then turned them out! The approach we adopted was focused on listening, on connecting voters and their story to the candidate and our cause. Repeated face to face interactions are critical. And we are among those who believe that Democrats didn’t do as well in the 2020 Congressional races as expected because we didn’t knock on doors — and we didn’t register new voters (while Republicans did). We are returning to the old school basics: repeated contacts, repeated efforts to remind them of protocols, meeting them were they are. Mentoring those who need it (like first time and newly registered voters). Reminding, reminding, reminding, and then chasing down those voters whose ballots need to be cured.
Hope Springs has targeted states that have competitive Senate races in 2022 as well as districts that are remapped in ways that offer opportunities or vulnerabilities for Democrats next year. As not every state has completed their re-maps, re-districting hasn’t yet made those opportunities/needs apparent. The Senate map started out clear. That may be changing. There are places we need to defend (Georgia and Arizona) and there are opportunities. North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are such opportunities. We’d like to get into Nevada, too, and perhaps others that appear more competitive at that time — if we can generate the resources needed to do so. There is a lot of work to be done!
The first thing we ask people who open their doors is whether they are currently registered at that address. If not, we explain that the law is now that voters have to be registered at their current address and that there are people out there who could challenge their vote if they are not. Then we ask if they are willing answer a few questions (from the Issue Survey) — and we train volunteers to show them the Issues Questionnaire as they ask that. This shows both that the survey is short and there are no trick questions that they should fear. Believe it or not, showing the survey form does increase response rates.
We also ask voters who open their doors whether they need to fill out a Constituent Service Request form. And, when we start using this approach somewhere, we get a higher response rate on service requests than we do after we have been knocking for awhile. I can’t really explain why this is true, but it was true on Saturday, as well. This week, we collected 21 CSRs in Arizona, twice as many in the Tucson suburbs as from Phoenix.
Constituent Service Requests are handed over to (hopefully Democratic) office holders with responsibilities for the area of the request. Q-slips will be sent directly to the campaigns of Democratic candidates. Comments from Observation Forms are entered into VAN, as well.
Hope Springs from Field PAC has a hybrid approach. We aren’t interested in competing with regular campaign field organizing. We are in the field before they get there and then move on when the Democratic campaigns start their intensive field work. Indeed, when we wind up the typical field work by Labor Day, we will encourage all the volunteers working with us to move over to the Senate campaigns in their states (and hope that our field organizers will be hired on by those campaigns). After Labor Day, we will begin organizing our Election Protection Project.
But we are also cognizant that Democratic turnout has traditionally dropped off more than Republicans in non-presidential years. So early, frequent voter contact is more important to our side. Equally important, though, is that starting early means that we can make up for our inability to register new voters in the presidential election because we took Covid and the health of our base seriously. Registering new voters (and re-registering existing voters at their current address, in compliance with HAVA) at their door is the hard way to do voter registration, but we catch people that our voter registration campaigns can miss because of their emphasis on larger-scale or mass voter registration.
By starting early, and aiming towards super-compliance with these really, really onerous provisions, Hope Springs from Field PAC seeks to undermine that strategy, while informing voters about the new laws and regulations aimed at them. There’s a lot of work to be done, but fortunately, the three states that are making it most difficult are also states in which you can knock on doors at least 10 months out of the year. And, with your help, we will be there, getting our people to super-comply with these restrictive provisions.
If you are able to support our efforts to protect Democratic voters, especially in minority communities, expand the electorate, and believe in grassroots efforts to increase voter participation and election protection, please help:
Thank you for your support.