Over the winter last year, a series of volunteer text chains in Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania began discussing the goals they wanted to see for Hope Springs from Field PAC in 2023. For the most part, organizers stayed out of these chains, chiming in when asked, but it was definitely a grassroots-led discussion. In several of these states, 2022 volunteers had decided that they wanted to shoot for 3 million doors knocked before our Labor Day conclusion, when we expected Senate and Congressional campaigns to step up their own canvassing efforts. That 2022 three million doors goal was entirely volunteer (canvassers) driven. They set it for themselves, they set it for Hope.
We didn’t make it. Instead, Hope Springs vols knocked on 2,984,214 doors in 2022 in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. But the 2024 map was different than the 2022 map, and our grassroots volunteers knew that we’d be expanding into Michigan, Montana and Virginia this year. Somehow, these texts chains expressed disappointment over our failure to reach 3M doors and decided to double down. I’m not kidding, we didn’t reach 3 million doors, so why not go for SIX???
Now this wasn’t as wild as i initially thought. Right off the bat, we were involved in special elections in Virginia and Pennsylvania, and our volunteers didn’t understand the metric that we use. We don’t count all doors equally. GOTV doors aren’t necessarily included in the number: if we aren’t using the Issues Survey and having that discussion with voters, we weren’t counting it. So, in the spreadsheet above, we would count the Saturday and Sunday doors because volunteers were knocking on new voter doors with the Issues Survey, but not the Friday, Monday or Tuesday doors because they were known candidate supporters (and the same doors, for that matter). And, believe me, some of our more ardent volunteers argued that a door is a door is a door.
In a sense, they are right. Any and every in-person contact from a Democratic or progressive volunteer with voters is a good thing. But we compare like to like. A door isn’t a door, and voters aren’t all the same. In GOTV, we focus on Democrats and Democratic-leaners, in our Issues Survey-driven canvasses, we expand our reach to independents and unaffiliated voters. But the important distinction here is that our Issues Survey-driven canvasses allow us to collect data on voters beyond the simple allegiance to a candidate. And that’s one of our main goals, to build and add value to voter databases that will help Democrats win, specifically, to win in 2024.
Hope Springs from Field went into 2023 (as we had done in 2022 & 2021) with the mission of 1.) field organizing for Special Elections; 2.) Early/Deep Organizing in Senate (and Electoral College) Swing States; and 3.) GOTV for the same. In the Spring, with canvassing in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin, Hope Springs volunteers knocked on 681,494 doors. This Summer, with Ohio just exploding with interest over Issue 1 (the GOP ballot initiative to require future ballot initiatives to reach 60% support to pass, which Democrats opposed), we knocked on another 2,964,410 doors. And this Fall, from September to Thanksgiving, we added another 2,650,701 doors.
That’s 6,296,605 doors knocked with an Issues Survey this year. I was wrong. Six million doors wasn’t too ambitious. Our grassroots volunteers didn’t get over their skis. They were dead on. As one of our volunteers told me, “We just had a hunch.” (How am i supposed to quantify that???)
Hope Springs from Field PAC has been knocking on doors in a grassroots-led effort to prepare the Electoral Battleground in what has been called the First Round of a traditional Five Round Canvass. 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 understands that 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 dud). 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.
Our efforts — and emphasis — is unique on the Democratic/progressive side. There is no other grassroots effort to Organize Early in Senate and Electoral College Swing States where the 2024 election will be determined. Nor is there another organization who inputs the data it collects into a public view mode that allows any Democratic nominee in those states to see voter’s responses to the questions we ask. Questions like “Is there a single issue that will determine how you vote?” a question that had a huge impact in our victory in Ohio, because we already had data on abortion single-issue voters in the major metropolitan suburbs from 2022 and 2023 that we could fold into a GOTV universe (one that would exceed our abilities to mobilize them all!).
There was a reason why Republicans and conservative orgs thought they could stem the tide towards Reproductive Freedom/Rights in Ohio. And they were right that the Ohio results presage the fight in 2024. Ohio has been a proving ground for conservative groups knocking on doors in suburban areas for decades now. They had their own data on abortion single-issue Ohio voters who opposed Reproductive Freedom; what is worse, we continually ran into Ohio Democrats who thought they were the only ones on their block or street. I can’t tell you how surprised, and then, relieved, they were when we showed them that there were others, Democrats and progressives who felt just as isolated as they did.
Covid made this sense of isolation worse. Especially in the outer suburbs and smaller (under 50,000 people) towns, they fact that we didn’t canvass in 2020 made that feeling of political isolation float over Democrats, discourage them, especially as the Trump campaign made visibility a priority. As some of our volunteers collected signatures for the November ballot initiative, it was not uncommon for them to hear, “I will sign the petition, but I doubt it will help.” Early Organizing, Deep Organizing, not only allows us to collect vital data that Democrats can use to win, but it reminds Democrats in the suburbs that they are not alone, that we still care and Democrats are still fighting for them.
They always say that generals fight the last battle. The reason why Republicans and conservative orgs thought they could defeat the Reproductive Freedom Constitutional Amendment in Ohio was because Democrats didn’t canvass in 2020 and, even if we had, they believed they were better at field organizing than we were. Club for Growth, the various Koch groups, Turning Point Action, etc, were all active in Ohio and they thought they had the state to themselves. “No Democrat will come out here,” a Hope Springs volunteer wrote down after she engaged with a right-wing canvasser walking on her route.
We are going to need that approach — Early Organizing, Deep Organizing — to win in 2024. Not just in Ohio, but Arizona, Georgia, Montana, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Senate and Electoral College Battleground States currently seen as highly competitive. Michigan, by virtue of having an Open Senate seat and its status as a Electoral College Battleground, even as it remains projected to lean Democratic.
But Ohio is a great example of our approach. Hope Springs from Field only got involved in Ohio because DKos commenters urged us to do so. We struggled to organize up, and we had organizers in the beginning who had to drive hours to reach the volunteers they were initially responsible for. We lost the Senate seat in 2022 but won two Congressional seats where we were canvassing — beating an incumbent in one, IIRC, and defeating an up-and-coming Latina Trump star in the other. That success laid the groundwork for this year. We’ve knocked 1,701,176 doors in Ohio and had in-depth, data-gathering conversations with more than 199,765 Ohioans (this number reflects those conversations at voter’s doors). Through all our efforts, we identified 176,394 Reproductive Freedom or single-issue Abortion Rights voters in the major metropolitan suburbs of Ohio in total.
The point is that we can scale up this approach relatively quickly, if we get the funding needed to support it. We don’t know what will happen in 2024, but we do know that we need to redouble our efforts to find voters who think and vote like we do, and we know that we can’t concede any ground to Donald Trump or his MAGA cronies. And we know that this Deep/Early Organizing approach works, not just because we are gathering data but because we are instilling HOPE for Democratic victories in areas where little or none exists. Yeah, we knocked on 6 million doors this year, something i didn’t really believe possible, but the grassroots knew better. Your financial support over the next year will make a big difference in whether we can continue to meet the ever-growing expectations of these grassroots volunteers (and organizers) who are making these things happen.
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:
You can follow that link for our mailing address, as well. Thank you for your support. This work depends upon you!