Confusion still reigns in Florida. I grew up in Florida and although I haven’t really lived there since high school, I have often had to explain to those elsewhere that Florida was different (both good and bad) and that it always seemed to love its governors. Democrat or Republican, (Southern) Progressive (Askew), Moderate (Chiles) or Conservative (Bush), Florida had popular governors. So it is pretty stark when I look at the weekly canvass results and see the current governor as the least popular politician among the (Democratic and independent) voters we are talking to in Central Florida’s key I-4 corridor.
But something changed and in our April 23rd canvass it became more obvious. Ron DeSantis’ job approval number dropped 9 points that weekend and it has never recovered. Now it is consistently 10 points lower that the lows before 4/23. To say DeSantis is a controversial governor is to state both the obvious and the unremarkable. There are a lot of nutty Republican governors out that, but Florida’s governor has kept pace with the craziest among them. At least that’s the in-the-weeds view from looking at our weekly canvass results.
198 volunteers came out on Saturday to knock on doors for Hope Springs from Field PAC. We continue to canvass in the Tampa suburbs, Osceola and eastern Seminole County. But we are canvassing for the Senate seat (not the governor’s race — although the Democratic nominee can take advantage of the data we are entering in VAN after the primary in late August) and, thus, we are focusing on the I-4 corridor. The area where statewide elections get decided.
For the third week in a row, Inflation (or rising prices) got knocked off the top spot about which issue voters we talk to are most concerned. The Economy or Jobs was the number one concern we heard. Inflation and jobs aren’t unrelated in a tourist-driven economy but some of the steps Florida’s governor has taken in the last few months have increased concern among the voters with whom we have talked.
Reproductive Rights was second. And this is also seems to be connected to the erratic nation of Ron DeSantis. Voters have expressed fear that DeSantis will call a special session to ban abortions in the state if Roe v Wade is overturned. They fear pressure on Planned Parenthood clinics and basically, “afraid that DeSantis would do to reproductive self-determination what he just did to Disney.”
But that just struck a chord. Schools was third. We are still getting comments about Disney and the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and worry about that also raises concerns about the potential threat to tourism. Pretty fluid responses.
Voter views of President Biden continue to fall. 58% of the voters we talked to expressed approval of President Biden in Florida on Saturday. 15% expressed disapproval in the job the president was doing.
DeSantis’ approval numbers fell to 6% (new low), while disapproval of DeSantis jumped to 48% (55% the prior week). Senator Rubio’s approval numbers rose 5 percentage points to 24% this week. Still underwater, though (29% disapproved of Rubio’s job performance).
It is important to realize that we were canvassing in suburban neighborhoods in Hillsborough, Osceola and Seminole counties. We don’t knock on doors of Republican households (although we do knock on the doors of mixed households), we are targeting Democrats and Independent households in swingy, suburban areas. In Osceola, we knock on doors in Hispanic neighborhoods where we started doing Election Protection work last summer. You would think DeSantis would garner greater approval from Hispanic voters because they often support incumbents, but Osceola in particular is the home of many whom are called Mickey Ricans and there’s a lot of uncertainty about the future of the Disney-driven economy in Central Florida.
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!
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. 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.
We are also asking people who open their doors about whether they need services delivered to their neighborhood. 61 voters filled out Constituent Service Request forms last Saturday. In general, we send these to Democratic elected officials responsible for the requested functions, but if the appropriate office is held by a Republican, we still send it along. For Democrats, though, we encourage them to reach out immediately to the voter who filled out the Constituent Service Request forms and let them know they are working on the issue. This credit-taking is enormously valuable to the Democratic office-holder.
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 Florida, 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.
Voter Suppression and Election Protection will be our central focus after Labor Day in 2022. The reason we organized as a federal PAC is so that we can get poll watcher credentials for November 2022. But after next Labor Day, we also hope to hand off any field organizers we hire to these Senate or other statewide campaigns, in part to help them understand the data we’ve collected and placed into VAN for their use. All the data we enter into VAN are classified as public, which will allow any Democratic candidate who uses VAN to access it. Laws pertaining to election protection changed in the rash of new election laws Republican legislatures passed this year and we would like to get ahead of that next year.
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 to voter protection 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.
As you can see from the very first question in the Issues Questionnaire, making sure that voters are registered from their current address is a major function of early canvassing. Part of this is making sure that voters are registered in compliance to the new, confusing and frustrating Election law that is particularly onerous for people who change residences more frequently than normal.
The new law requires voters to provide, in addition to their date of birth, the last four digits of their Social Security number OR their driver license OR state ID card number to make an address change. Which is par for the course this year, but here’s the part that is likely to stump people who move around. You have to remember which one you provided, because you have to provide the same one every single time you interact with your local Supervisor of Elections, or your request won’t be granted. Supervisors of Elections won’t have access to other databases, so they can only "verify” a request by the information the voter has provided.
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. That includes making sure that out-of-state workers at Disney know to, and how to, obtain a State ID card if they don’t want to give up their out-of-state DL but still want to vote in Florida. 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.
The General Election Senate Nominees are set in Ohio. Do You Think Florida or Ohio will be more competitive in November?
The General Election Senate Nominees are set in Ohio. Do You Think Florida or Ohio will be more competitive in November?