Well, the weather didn’t cooperate for our first weekend of scheduled canvassing for Hope Springs from Field PAC. While it was in the mid 70s in Florida on the first weekend in March, in Arizona the high temp was expected in the low 60s — after noon. Not exactly what we were hoping for, so we had to postpone knocking on doors there until last weekend (both canvassers and organizers have decided that 65 degrees is the appropriate low temperature cut off). The first weekend in March doesn’t seem to be the right time to start in Arizona, as we faced this decision last year, as well! But Florida is good (just not as important as Arizona, in terms of Senate races or the Electoral College).
Our core mission is protecting a Democratic Senate (and the Electoral College) and our core tactic is face-to-face voter contact through canvassing. The term most often associated with this approach is “Deep Organizing” but Early Organizing is equally appropriate. The model or system we have been using has been derivative of old Democratic machine tactics as well as the old (and apparently no longer used) system of 5 rounds (or touches) of voters by political campaigns. City Democratic machine precinct captains endeavored to knock on doors twice a year in off years and 4 times a year during an election year. So Democrats used to have a lot of face-to-face contact with voters; now many (probably most) precinct captains never knock on the doors of all the voters in their precincts.
Campaign field programs used to get their volunteers to knock on doors as well, and targeted areas could expect someone to show up at their door 5 times. Before voter databases became more computerized (and models more sophisticated), the first round was generally dedicated to list clean-up duty, making sure voters still lived where they lived in the last election cycle, registering new voters who might have moved in (or were now eligible to vote) and making them aware of government services, especially those things that fell under the candidate’s auspices. Neither of these two things are typical in urban areas, and are virtually unknown in the areas that Hope Springs from Field targets: swingy areas that tend to be suburban and where new building is common. The areas that are deciding elections in the 21st century.
So we began knocking on doors again in Florida on March 4th and in Arizona on March 11th, talking to voters, raising the Democratic banner and collecting data that will help Democratic candidates get voters to the polls in 2024. And what we found, in our first full weekend of canvassing, is that the voters we talked to aren’t so focused on any one specific thing or the next election. Inflation is still a concern, a couple of voters mentioned the price of eggs specifically (in both states!), but definitely not to the same degree as last year at this time. One of our volunteers talked to a realtor who said that interest rates have gone too high, but there was no real majority on what voters were talking about in either state. In the two years we have been knocking on doors, we haven’t seen this kind of diffusion, which is interesting in and of itself.
61 volunteers came out to knock on doors last Saturday (46 the previous weekend) in Central Florida and in Jacksonville. In Arizona, in the western suburbs of Phoenix and Tucson, 73 volunteers came out to knock on doors. We don’t track how many new volunteers came (and won’t until we get the website set up, hopefully in April), but i don’t think anyone reported a new volunteer. We knocked on 4,937 doors in Arizona and 4,013 doors in Florida last Saturday (2,842 on March 4). Volunteers talked to 437 voters in Florida (276 the prior weekend) and 371 voters in Arizona. These numbers (perhaps to be expected) were not as good as those from last year’s kickoffs but better than those in 2021.
Voter views of President Biden are similar, but lower, to what we found on our first two weekends in 2022. Biden Approval among the Floridians we talked to was at 66% last Saturday (and 71% the weekend prior) and 59% in Arizona. Last year, at this time Biden Approval was 73% in Florida and 70% in Arizona. But in 2021, Biden Approval was high, as well, but declined markedly in the fall of 2021. But the voters we talked to were generally happy with the President at this time. We weren’t seeing ringing praise — no one declared they were a Joe Biden Democrat — but we didn’t hear disgust, either. What we were hearing, rather, was confidence that President Biden was getting the job done. That Democrats Deliver, as promised.
Hope Springs from Field PAC began knocking on doors again on March 4th in a grassroots-led effort to prepare the Electoral Battleground in what has been called the First and Second Rounds of a traditional Five Round Canvass. We are taking those efforts to the doors of Democrats and unaffiliated voters with a systematic approach that reminds them not only that Democrats care, but Democrats are determined to deliver the best government possible to all Americans.
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 (and can be) cured.
It is important to realize that we were canvassing in suburban neighborhoods in Florida and Arizona. 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 Florida, Approval of Sen. Rick Scott was 8% on March 4th and 11% on March 11th. Disapproval was 29% and 22% in those weeks, respectively. In Arizona, Approval of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema was 26% while Disapproval was 34% among the voters who responded to the question. We also asked about voter approval of Rep. Ruben Gallego, the apparent Democratic nominee for the Senate in 2024. Approval of Gallego was 18% — and most of the voters we talked to didn’t know who Gallego was.
We asked about voter impressions of their Governors, as well. Of course, in Arizona, Gov. Hobbs was only recently elected but Gov. DeSantis has been on his book tour, preparing for his candidacy for the Republican nominee to be President. Ron DeSantis and the potential that the courts may overturn the Congressional maps in Florida are two of the reasons why Florida is included in our efforts this cycle.
Approval for DeSantis was 8% on March 11th (14% on the 4th) and his Disapproval was 46% last Saturday (41% on the 4th). Last year, DeSantis’ Disapproval was 49% and 48% on those respective weekends.
As you can see, 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 persuasion pitch, 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. We also ask voters if they have an problems that local, state or federal governments need to address in their neighborhoods. In Florida, we had 12 voters fill out Constituent Service Request forms on the 11th and 19 voters fill them out on the 4th. In Arizona, 24 voters filled out CSRs. If possible, 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.
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.
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. In Florida, given the current laws, we offer up a tablet with the Secretary of State website up so that voters can register or update their information themselves. 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. But registering new voters (and re-registering existing voters at their current address, in compliance with HAVA) at their door is also critical to our approach. Arizona has a much more friendly voter registration system, including the ability to opt in to permanent early voting. Of course, canvassing 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.
In Florida, though, 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. But this is something we have learned to track so that if the voter registration was not successful, we can go back.
We registered 17 voters in Florida on Saturday (6 the weekend prior), all but two re-registrations. in Arizona, we registered 11 voters (3 of which were first time registered).
We also 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 2 voters who wanted to fill out Incident Reports in Florida on Saturday. These are voters who witnessed some form of voter intimidation or malfeasance at the polls. 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.
Hope Springs has targeted states that have competitive Senate races and/or the Electoral College in 2024, as well as districts that are remapped in ways that offer opportunities or vulnerabilities for Democrats next year (specifically those where a Republican won a Congressional District that voted for Biden in 2022). There is a lot of work to be done! Especially since we have had to expand the map this year.
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. This work depends upon you!