Yesterday, i wrote about a voter who said that Joe Biden’s unspoken problem was that he isn’t on the front page everyday (like TFG). But, i noted, in 2024, he will be. This diary is about the data we are collecting at the doors in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Virginia and what it says about voter support of Joe Biden.
Hope Springs from Field PAC volunteers have been knocking on doors in Electoral College and Senate Swing (and, in the case of Virginia, a Reproductive Healthcare Swing State) states since March, weather permitting. In the process, we have accumulated a lot of data and we like to share any insights that jump out at us. Basically, consider this a donor’s briefing on what we are seeing in the Swing States, a benchmark of Joe Biden’s “starting position” at this time.
Now we don’t ask about Republican candidates (non-Senate incumbents). So this isn’t a head-to-head poll. It isn’t polling at all. Our purpose in canvassing is to raise awareness of what Democrats are doing, collecting information about how voters feel about Democrats (and Senate and Governor incumbents), and leaving voters with a positive impression of what Democrats are doing for them. We exclude Republican households and there is nothing random about our universe. But we have collected a *lot* of data, and it is data that will be used to model voter communications next year. Since Joe Biden was elected president, we have knocked on 7,279,853 doors and spoken to 559,308 voters, about half of which were Democrats and half were unaffiliated with any major party. Of those half-a-million voters, 347,293 have answered questions from our Issues Survey, in whole or in part. One of the questions that almost every voter responds to is their opinion about Joe Biden’s Job Approval. (This data does not include last Saturday, which is not yet all in.)
The graphic, of course, denotes our findings in all the states we are canvassing in right now. But not all these states are equally important. Some states (like Montana) are pure Senate plays, while others (like Georgia) are pure Electoral College plays. Most, though, are both — and states like Arizona, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are critical to both.
Seth Moskowitz, writing for UVA's esteemed Center for Politics, has plotted the “GOP’s Most Efficient Electoral College Pathways" and provides one roadmap to 270. We are going to look at Hope Springs’ results in that light. Seth reminds us that:
In the most narrow sense, Trump lost the election by 42,918 votes. That number comes from totaling up the raw vote margin in the three most competitive states (Georgia, Arizona, and Wisconsin). Had Trump flipped these, he likely would have won the election — in the event of an Electoral College tie, the House of Representatives would have picked the president, and the GOP would have controlled that process (and very likely will control it again following the 2024 election — see a Crystal Ball analysis from earlier this year that explains why).
“Flipping Georgia, Arizona, and Wisconsin is likely the GOP’s best chance at winning back the presidency. But there are other viable routes to 269 as well that involve Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District.” Hope Springs from Field has been knocking on doors in Georgia, Arizona, and Wisconsin from the start. The PAC was created for the purpose of “importing” field organizers into Georgia from surrounding states for the two Senate runoffs. Georgia Dems had been resistant from bringing in “outside” staff due to Covid but there were presidential and senate campaign field staffers who then were out of work and available. Obama alums believed it was a waste to forego experienced campaign staff. Chicago-based Obama alums had been going into Wisconsin to knock on doors since the Walker recall — and some of us spent our weekends helping voters re-register to vote in 2012 when Gov. Walker kicked off tens of thousands of African-Americans from the voter rolls. Only in Arizona did we have to start from scratch.
The chart to the left represents a clearer picture where we are at in those three swing states. Remember that we don’t knock on doors of purely Republican households, so more than a third of the electorate is left out of that chart. Sometimes people will look at these and think, ‘Oh, that’s not too bad. Better than the national polls.’ But they are not comparable.
The reality is that we all wish Biden was polling better, and that voters appreciated the job he was doing. It’s not a factor of name recognition, simply the increasing polarization we see in this country today.
But all is not lost. When we look back at the Job Approval ratings we were collecting for Senators running for re-election last year, we find that Kelly (AZ) and Warnock (GA) were hovering around 80% of the Democrats and independents who had an opinion. But Ryan (OH) and Beasley (NC) were pretty close, and they both lost. Neither were running against incumbent Senators. Fetterman was just below them, but we were still hearing questions about his health on Labor Day weekend. 15 percentage points separate Fetterman and Cortez Masto — who both won. Cortez Masto was returning findings similar to what we are seeing about Joe Biden right now (a year out, not months out, from election day).
The second path that Seth Moskowitz identifies is the Republican path through Pennsylvania and Georgia. “Out of all the competitive states, Pennsylvania comes with the largest reward: 19 electoral votes. If the GOP nominee can win those, then they’ll unlock a host of new routes to 269.” You should notice two things about this chart. First of all, Biden is doing better in Pennsylvania, and we have collected a lot of data in Alleghany County because of various special elections there. But it is becoming conventional wisdom that Biden is doing better in Pennsylvania than expected. Regardless, you can see from TFG’s reaction to Pennsylvania instating Automatic Voter Registration that he understands the state is moving away from him. Still, the 55% approval rating we found in the state two weekends ago is not as high as you’d like to see.
Secondly, we were initially knocking on doors in the Black Belt of Georgia, and you can see that Biden’s rating fell as we added the suburbs of Atlanta (including those in MTG’s congressional district) to the equation. We are also finding less “approval” of Biden in the Black Belt that we were finding in the prior two years. Georgia is perhaps even more dangerous for the Trump campaign than Pennsylvania, as we’ve identified a significant number of voters in the Atlanta suburbs who are concerned about extremism, political stability and the prospect of violence due to the oncoming Trump trial in that city. I talked about this a little yesterday (and a lot more in the weekly canvass wrapups, usually posted on Saturdays).
Another path Seth Moskowitz identified was the Republican path through Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Nevada.
What’s important about this path is that it doesn’t require the GOP nominee to win either Georgia or Arizona. Again, it may seem unlikely that Nevada will turn red while Georgia and Arizona stay blue, but that becomes easier to imagine if you look at the rightward course Nevada’s been charting in recent years.
Since March 4, Hope Springs from Field volunteers have been knocking on doors (as weather permitted) in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin and Virginia. These all are critical states that will determine who is President and which party controls the Senate in 2025. So, not much at stake.
We canvass 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 understands that volunteer to voter personal interactions are critical. Knocking on doors has repeatedly been found to be the most successful tactic to get voters to cast a ballot and that is the goal of what we do.
Seth Moskowitz notes that “the 2020 map is a solid template to build on. At the very least, it gives a sense of where the battle to 269 will take place and the various paths that the GOP nominee could chart to get there.” This is what all the presidential campaigns i have worked on have done, started with the Electoral College map from the previous election, and built their strategy around it. Pennsylvania seems to have gotten closer to Democrats than when he wrote that piece, but it still serves as a valid foundation.
Moskowitz even follows the path that presidential campaigns take by identifying a Red State that could be turned into a Blue State in 2024. Without explaining why, he follows conventional wisdom and notes North Carolina is the obvious Democratic target in 2024. The Biden campaign agrees, already spending $25 million in television advertising in the state.
The Washington Post writes:
Top advisers to President Biden are planning a 2024 battleground strategy that fully invests in North Carolina, while mounting an early challenge in the increasingly Republican domain of Florida, home to two of his top potential rivals.
The strategy — which has been briefed to donors in recent weeks and has been signaled in early television advertising buys by the Democratic National Committee — comes as the party and Biden’s team make plans to focus most of their organizing and spending energy on the states that Biden won in 2020.
But the campaign’s early moves provide alternate paths to victory if the president finds himself struggling next year to repeat his 2020 victory. Biden won Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin by less than a single percentage point. If he loses all three states in 2024, he can still win the White House by winning North Carolina and holding onto his other states.
Florida — home to former president Donald Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), two potential 2024 rivals — is widely seen as an increasingly conservative must-win state for Republicans, but it offers a different opportunity for Democrats, according to Democrats briefed on the plans. The party is willing to spend early on the state this year in the hopes of making it more competitive next year, while withholding judgment on whether it will be worth the same sort of investment in the fall of 2024 as it was in 2020.
The Biden campaign will want to stretch the map as far as possible, and many people expected North Carolina to go blue before Georgia did (North Carolina has a Democratic governor.
While Hope Springs volunteers have found Biden to be above the 50% line all year, only three times has he been above 55%. This Fall, Hope Springs is focusing on getting free Photo IDs for voters through their local Board of Elections offices. Just like we found in Georgia, the state has been slow off the mark providing county boards with the materials needed to provide the more than 1,000 voters who we have found at their door who needs a photo ID to vote.
Regardless, Hope Springs has had volunteers go to each other’s states in Primary GOTV volunteer exchanges and this has really enthused groups from both states. They liked it so much that we even had groups from both states (and others!) go up to Ohio for GOTV week before the special election in Ohio. These exchanges have intensified our training efforts to prepare volunteers for the specific requirements of GOTV. I can’t tell you how many times that volunteers are surprised that there are variations in how different states do things, largely because there are different laws that govern elections in each state. I think the biggest hurdle, though, is getting everyone to recognize that we know longer have a single GOTV effort, but at least two distinct GOTV phases: one to prepare for, and mobilize voters for, Early Voting, and a second one for Election Day. We have to start asking voters if they know their Vote Plans earlier (we start asking in September) and code EV and ED voters differently so that we pester them during the appropriate phase. That was the biggest lesson out-of-state volunteers brought to Ohio in August.
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