Last Saturday was Memorial Day weekend. As you’d expect, we didn’t have the turnout you’d expect because of the holiday. Or, quite frankly, the number of opened doors we normally see. And, yet, volunteers in the SW part of Georgia still came out to knock on doors.
“I promised,” one recently graduated young volunteer told her organizer. Got to hope that dedication is sustained through November.
202 volunteers came out to knock on doors on Saturday. This was less than half the number who came out for GOTV weekend — but pay that no mind. Still more than the graduation weekends for the prior Saturdays. 13 volunteers chased down voters who needed to have their ballots cured from Wednesday to Friday.
We have been focusing our canvassing efforts in Georgia on the silver “Toss Up” Congressional District (2nd) that corresponds to the Albany-Columbus-Macon area where we have been active since November 2020. This is a largely rural area with two HBCUs and a significant number of African-American farmers.
We ask voters who opened their doors if they were registered to vote at their current address and if they have the required photo ID they need to cast their ballot. Even after the primary, we are still finding people who need a photo ID.
Our major focus has been the Issues Survey. Normally, around 65% of the voters we talk to at their doors answer some or all of these questions although it was slightly lower on Saturday. Each week, we ask voters about what issue they think is the most urgent facing America right now. For the second week in a row, people have complained about how much it costs to fill their gas tank and more than a few wonder how long it’s going to keep going up. Crime was second, mostly concern about Jobs. Reproductive Rights was the third most mentioned issue, again. But the difference between the second most frequent response and the third was fairly significant.
Volunteers working with Hope Springs from Field PAC talk to voters with multiple goals based upon listening to voters at their doors and using prompts to focus the conversation in a meaningful way. Our major focus has been the Issues Survey. A lot of the people we talk to are eager to convey their opinions and concerns and asking for their opinion reinforces the theme that Democrats care about them.
Because we know that this election will be close and winning is achieved at the margins. The first step is to remind voters that there is something at stake in 2022. They already know that there is but constant reinforcement helps.
While our goal is to re-elect Senator Warnock, 2022 is (as was expected) a “target rich environment,” as some like to say. In the Black Belt, you have Senator Warnock running for re-election, Stacey Abrams running in her historic bid to become Georgia’s governor and Ketanji Brown Jackson’s ascension to the Supreme Court bench in October. And that was before the leak from the Supreme Court. There is something for Democratic voters to vote for and we are reminding them of that fact. It is no time to be complacent.
Voter views of President Biden continue to fall from its high during the time of the Ketanji Brown Jackson hearing. 58% of the voters we talked to expressed approval of President Biden in Florida on Saturday. 14% expressed disapproval in the job the president was doing. We continue to get feedback from voters that they wished Biden could do more about the price of gas, inflation and help with farm loans.
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.
But Georgia continues to stand apart from the other Senate Swing States where we are knocking on doors. Not only do we have more volunteers come out on Saturdays, but they are knocking on more doors (yes, these things are related) by a significant amount. And we have volunteers here still asking for bigger turfs.
78% of the voters we talked to approved of the job Rev Warnock was doing in the Senate. Only 7% expressed disapproval this week. We knock on doors of Democrats and Independents, and not all nine counties we canvassed on Saturday were predominantly Democratic. We don’t knock on doors of Republican households (although we do knock on the doors of mixed households).
Governor Kemp did not fare so well. 18% of the voters we talked to approved of the governor’s work, while 41% disapproved. In Georgia, we are also asking voters what they think of Stacey Abrams (since she is unopposed) and 68% expressed approval; 8% said they disapproved. We enter all this data we collect into VAN, the shared Democratic database, which is made available to all Democratic candidates who use it after the primaries.
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 (hello, Florida!), 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, Nevada and Arizona) and there are opportunities. North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are such opportunities. There is a lot of work to be done!
We specifically ask voters if they have any concerns about the upcoming elections. Last year, we walked with lit about the changes in voting laws in Georgia, but we also asked voters about their fears and experience in prior elections. Voters who say they have experience voter intimidation or other problems with voting are asked to fill out Incident Reports. We found 8 voters who wanted to fill out Incident Reports in Georgia on Saturday. We collate these Incident Reports, to be shared with local, state and federal officials in charge of voting, as well as use them to plan out our Election Protection strategy in the fall. They could also be used in court cases.
But asking — and collecting — Incident Reports has a second purpose at this time. We are reminding voters that we care about Election Protection, that if they witness something, they can say something and it will matter.
Like last summer and fall, we have been asking voters if they have any local infrastructure issues they would tell elected officials about. In Georgia, we have consistently found people who wanted to fill out Constituent Service Request forms. 60 voters raised some area that they wanted addressed. We pass these along to the relevant local official for the request.
We knock on the doors of Democratic and Independent voters. 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. 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 last year was inflation or price increases, and I imagine that concern has only increased.
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.
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.
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.
Now that We know the Nominees in Georgia, Do You Feel Better or Worse about November?
Now that We know the Nominees in Georgia, Do You Feel Better or Worse about November?