Developing a PC Strategy: Part Three

By Richard Gooding

What is the most important thing I should be doing right now?

Maricopa County has slots for approximately 5,100 Democratic PCs, or one PC slot per 120 registered Democrats. At the time of the 2016 election, there were a paltry 880 Democratic PCs, or one PC per 700 Democrats. It is impossible for each PC to engage that many individuals. Fortunately, things have improved since the election. Maricopa has doubled that number to about 1,800 PCs. Unfortunately, that still means there is only one PC for every 340 registered Democrats. This same pattern holds for most other counties in the state.

Bottom line: if the Democrats are going to win at the ground game, which is the only way we can win, we need to fill every PC slot in the state with trained, engaged and empowered PCs. We need to get to a manageable ratio of one PC per 100-125 registered Democrats.

AZ Blue 2020 has been doing presentations and webinars to recruit PCs. While those have been moderately successful, we need to shift the focus. The clock is ticking.

The quickest way to fill the remaining PC slots throughout the state is for every PC to recruit two additional PCs. If the 1,800 PCs in Maricopa each recruited two PCs, we would have over 5,100 PCs. Therefore, the most important thing a PC should be doing right now is recruiting two additional PCs.

Do the people you recruit have to become PCs? Do they need to canvass? The answer to both is no. Volunteers with a wide range of skills and interests are needed. Some people won’t want to canvass but will write letters, postcards or phone bank. Others might be happy holding house parties, being the “Comfort Captain” on the team, or data person, pulling walk lists. All are welcomed.

Recruiting New PCs and Volunteers

Some recruiting will occur naturally when you are canvassing your neighborhood. You may meet an engaged constituent who wants to do more than vote. Invite that person to become a PC or volunteer.

A bigger challenge is recruiting in precincts with no PCs. How do you plant seeds in those areas? These precincts often have many registered Democrats whom need to be engaged but no one to do the engaging.

The first step is to identify the targeted precinct(s) and cut a list of high-efficacy Democrats in that precinct. These are the leads you need to mine.

You can reach them by canvassing the precinct going door-to-door or by phone banking. The phone banking process has been successfully deployed in LD 9, where close to 100 PCs were recruited over a four-month period.

Our recommended next steps:

  1. Hold a Group Phone Banking Party. Phone banking with others is much more fun than doing it by yourself. Recruit other PCs in your LD. Divide up the call list of high-efficacy Democrats and start dialing.
  2. Try the following script. It works.

“Hi, this is _______, I’m a Democrat in your neighborhood. I am calling other Democrats in the neighborhood to see if they can give us a helping hand over the next 12 months as we prepare for the 2018 election. As you know, the Democratic Party needs a lot of help, especially at the grassroots level.

Observe their reaction to the Party to judge their interest.

“Would you consider helping us out by being a volunteer in our ground game?”

If they are interested, they will ask about the duties and requirements for volunteers. You should describe it broadly and let them know there are a wide range of things volunteers can do to support the Party.

If they indicate they can’t help now, find out if they can help closer to the election. A “no” may actually be a “not now.”

If they are not interested now or in the future,

“Thank for your vote and continued support of the party.”

Go to the next person on the list.

  1. If they are interested, invite them to a small gathering with other potential volunteers. You need to pick a date and time for the meeting, as well as a location in the middle of the targeted precinct. If there were PCs in the precinct, you could hold a house party but there aren’t any PCs yet.

A few of the people who are interested in volunteering are going to meet for coffee next week to learn more about how they can help. We are meeting on (date and location). Would you like to join us?”

If they can’t meet at that time,

“When would you be able to meet?”

At this point, you can use their requested date and time when making your next calls or you can have two separate meetings.

  1. Next, each PC holds their volunteer recruitment meeting. This is the small meeting in a coffee shop (or other central, public location) with two or three potential volunteers. You should share your story, learn about why they want to be involved and identify what skills and resources they are willing to volunteer.

 

At the end of this meeting, you should have a clear idea of who is interested in taking their involvement to the next level. You can share with them what a PC does and provide them a copy of the PC Survival Guide. You can even have them fill out the Appointed PC form on the spot.

Where things go from here may vary depending on your LD and the training they provide to new PCs.

Based on the experience in LD 9, starting with a list of 100 high-efficacy Democrats, you should be able to talk to 25-30 people, which should result in five potential volunteers for you to meet. The best time to call is Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon.

We’d like to hear about your progress, any tips you might have and, most importantly, how many PCs you recruit.

If we all take a little bite of the elephant, we can bring it to its knees.

Developing a PC Strategy: Part Two

By: Richard Gooding

What is the PC’s job?

The PC’s job is to get Democrats elected. Canvassing, phone banking, letter writing and house parties are some of the tools PCs are expected to use to turn out the vote and elect Democrats. While most agree with the end goal, there are different perspectives on why and how it should be done. We believe the most effective and sustainable way to elect Democrats is to effectuate a grassroots model, a paradigm whose power flows from the bottom up, not the top down.

Who does a PC represent? The Democratic Party or their constituents?

PCs are the foundation of the Democratic Party but they do not represent the Democratic Party, nor do they represent or work for any particular Democratic candidate. This type of top-down approach runs counter to the fact that the power of the party resides in the PCs, not in the candidates or party leadership. PCs are elected public officials within the Democratic party and it is the constituents within their precincts who elect them. Just like any other elected official, the PC represents his/her constituents. Further support for the bottom up paradigm is that, in Arizona, the party leadership is elected not by the public, but rather the PCs. It is the PCs who the elect the Democratic leadership within their LD, county, state and national committees and, as such, the party leadership should work for the PCs to effectively maximize this bottom up approach.

What is a PC’s job in 2018?

The PC’s job in 2018 is to get 10, 20 or 30 of their Democratic neighbors who would not vote in a midterm election to vote. It is that simple! If every PC accomplishes this one goal, we turn Arizona blue in 2018.

As a PC you represent about 100 Democrats in your precinct/neighborhood. In a typical midterm election, like 2014, 48 of those 100 people will vote regardless of your influence. That leaves 52 registered Democrats in your neighborhood that, based on past midterm elections, will not vote in 2018. Your job is to get 10, 20 or 30 of those 52 non-voters to vote. Even more encouraging?  37 of those 52 non-voters did in fact vote in the 2016 Presidential election; they just need to be motivated to cast their ballots during midterms as well.

Do I need to talk to Independents?

A lot of people argue we need to talk to Independents. The main reason for this suggestion is that about 1/3 of the state’s voters are registered as Independents. While this is true, is your time better spent meeting and establishing a relationship with your 52 Democratic constituents to convince them to vote? Or spending time trying to persuade Independents? With your Democratic constituents you need only to persuade them to vote. With Independents, you need to persuade them to vote and to vote for the Democratic candidate.

Also, think about why someone is registered as an Independent. First, they may feel disenfranchised by the political process; they don’t believe their vote counts. This is supported by the fact that Independents typically have the lowest turnout rate. Second, they vote for the candidate or issue, not the party. If the Democratic candidate is not appealing to Independents, they may cast a vote for a different parties’ candidate or may not vote at all if none of the candidates are appealing.

It is the candidate’s job to convert persuadable Independent votes, not the PCs’ job. Before setting out to persuade Independents, make sure you have done all the necessary work to get 10, 20 or 30 of your low-turnout Democrats to vote in 2018.

What Does Success Look Like?

Success is easy to measure. What was the voter turnout for your 100 constituents? How many of the 52 low-turnout Democrats voted in the 2018 election?

Your job as a PC is that simple. Others will want to distract you. Do not let them.