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.

6 thoughts on “Developing a PC Strategy: Part Two

    1. Richard Gooding

      Thank you for the feedback. I am not against talking with Independents but that should not be the top priority for a PCs in 2018. They need to get the low-turnout Dems to vote in 2018. In 2020, talking with Independents may be more important since the Dem turnout rate will be closer to 85%.

  1. ssl

    I agree Mostly. However I think it is wrong to lump all Independents in the same category. For example: My husband has been registered as an Independent his entire life. However he consistently votes Democratic, and consistently votes. He registered as Independent so he could choose what primary to vote in, since this is allowed in AZ.

    Since there are more Independents and Greens than Democrats in Arizona (157,000 more in the last record), I think that it is useful once we have canvassed our precincts for Democrats to canvass Independents and Greens and identify those voters who are already likely to vote Democratic and get them to vote in midterms. Voter files can help us to target these. Note that this is still not about persuasion, its about turnout. I also think that the more that we engage with these Dem-voting Independents, the more likely they are to identify as Democrats and switch their registration.

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