There are, at this moment, three open seats in the 2022 Senate election: North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Ohio has popped Democratic balloons for 20 years (save Sherrod Brown, of course) but North Carolina and Pennsylvania are certainly in reach. Both of these seats are considered competitive, and if Ron Johnson decides not to run for re-election in Wisconsin, that seat is likely to be labelled competitive, as well.
This weekend, Hope Springs from Field PAC organized canvasses in Texas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. It was the first weekend that we had all the states we are involved with in the field at the same time. If my Obama alum network included Arizona or Ohio, we’d be there, too (and hopefully will before the new year). But right now, we are depending on the kindness of Obama field alums and volunteer leaders from the Georgia special Senate election to lead these canvasses. These are truly grassroots efforts.
We have strong reasons to believe that North Carolina represents a prime opportunity for a Senate seat pickup by Democrats. More than 1.8 million new voters have registered since the 2016 general election. “These new voters make up 25% of the state’s 7.1 million registered voters.” And because the Biden campaign was not out in the field to register new voters last summer/early fall, we think there are at least 200,000 potential new voters out there — a number that will grow as more people move into the state. Trump won North Carolina by less than 100,000 votes in 2020. And the suburbs are growing, while voter registration stats in rural counties are declining. Most of the state’s growth is in demographic groups that tend to vote Democratic: urban residents, minorities and newcomers with college degrees. In North Carolina, Republicans registered 50,000 more new voters in 2020 than Democrats — although the North Caroline GOP “lost close to 2% of its share of North Carolina voters.“
In states where there has been explosive growth, voter registration drives are critical. Georgia is an example of how registering people to vote can shape the electorate in our favor. But the lesson of Georgia isn’t just voter registration but sustained contact with the electorate. During the Georgia runoff, I had the opportunity to talk to a person working for one of the Stacey Abrams-funded (local) organizations in southern Fulton County. He just happened to be dropping off lit as I was walking to the grocer and he told me that he had been to that house (an isolated house) several times in the past year. I asked him how many, and he looked at his paperwork. “This house has been visited 8 times in that period,” not all by him, he admitted. But have you talked to anyone, I asked (this house was besides one of the long term airport parking lots and blocks from the next house). “I have,” he replied.
In North Carolina, we are canvassing Cary and Robeson Counties. In Robeson County, we have put the Constituent Service Request form out front and center of our efforts. In poorer communities, which are often underserved by public services, the credit taking that elected officials can receive by passing along specific constituent service requests seems to be more appreciated by both voters and public servants. But, from our view, asking people first if they have any issues in their neighborhood that they’d like pointed out to the elected officials makes the next ask — are you registered to vote at your current address? — much more effective. Historically, I have founded that our response rates are higher in poorer communities when the questions are asked in that order.
Hope Springs from Field PAC is 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. 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 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. 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. 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.
We had 17 volunteers come out in Robeson County, and 31 in Cary. In Robeson, all our canvassers were African-American, which was appropriate because we are canvassing in rural minority communities there. Two of our volunteers were recruited having knocked on their doors in prior Saturdays!
Robeson County is an area that the Trump campaign field staff worked very hard. They claim (note: the Trump campaign was prone to excessive bragging) to have had 200 people out knocking in the county in 2020. This claim was well-known to locals, and I have been told that Trump efforts often included “truck convoys” through their neighborhoods. Not that voter suppression efforts are new to North Carolina, especially in rural minority areas. Long, extensive history.
But they claim they were very successful in reach out to Native Americans in the area. Whether or not that is true, several canvassers passed along the chest-thumping that the Trumpies did last year. So we got lots of “glad to see you out” praise on Saturday. In areas where the Trump and Republican campaigns worked really hard in field, the absence of Democrats was startling. Really noticeable.
So this is make-up work. If we really want a Democrat to win these open Senate seats, it is imperative to show the flag now, and not leave the impression that Democratic field efforts have reached an end. Minority areas like Robeson County already don’t see the same level of volunteer or paid outreach that suburban areas do. For example, the Abrams campaign sent out 5 direct mail pieces to Dougherty County in Georgia while it sent out 19 mail pieces to the same kind of voters in Fulton County. Lots and lots of reasons why, but it can’t surprise us that those who receive less contact vote less often. The same was true of the volunteer-generated post cards in the Georgia runoff. I knew many African-Americans in Fulton County who received multiple post cards but in Dougherty County, I only knew of one voter who received one post card from an out-of-state activist.
Voters notice this. Hope Springs from Field PAC is working to reverse the impressions left by the Covid-related decision last year to basically forego field with an intense strategy of in-person canvassing in places that could decide next year’s election.
If you are able to support our efforts to protect Democratic voters, in minority as well as more transient communities, working to expand the electorate and get people to the polls while safe-guarding our Constitutional right to vote, and believe in grassroots efforts to increase voter participation, please do. Contributions go towards purchase of Mobile Printers, canvassing supplies (water, snacks, cooling towels), paper, literature and use of VAN:
Thank you for your support.
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It was 91 degrees in NC on Saturday. How likely are you to get out in that?I’m Determined. Count Me In!0%0 votesI would do it if we walked with an assigned Cooling Vehicle0%0 votesIt’s great beach weather, but otherwise0%0 votesWhere’s my AC?0%0 votesNope. Not. Gonna. Happen.0%0 votes
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