Thursday, April 27, 2006

CD-8: The Value of Volunteers

In a comment to an earlier post Liza said, “I'm already sick of hearing of about Giffords and her 570K. I can sympathize, Liza, because there are other things we should be talking about, but we are going to be hearing a lot about every candidate’s money before November.

The reason is simple, if unpalatable. Despite our faith (some of it justified) in the power of the grass roots, you can’t win an election on volunteers alone.

A hard core cadre of volunteers is invaluable to any political campaign. By “hard core” I mean a group that can give twenty hours or more to the campaign each week, running the headquarters, coordinating the work of other volunteers, assisting in research, mail targeting, and assisting any professional staff the campaign may have hired.

My judgement is that almost any campaign will be able to attract such a group of true believers, fifteen or twenty perhaps, willing to work themselves virtually to the point of exhaustion for their candidate. A vastly greater number of volunteers will be attracted, of course, but my experience has been that while they may walk a neighborhood, or assist in getting a mailing out, the best of them are not likely to do this more than once or twice.

Consider for just a moment the statistics for CD-8

Active voters:
Democratic: 132,894
Libertarian: 2,560
Republican: 151,794
Other: 99,780
Total: 387,028

Inactive voters:
Democratic: 7,546
Libertarian: 253
Republican: 7,855
Other: 7,417
Total: 23,071

Total voters:
Democratic: 140,440
Libertarian: 2,813
Republican: 159,649
Other: 107,197
Total: 410,099

(Let’s also remember that CD-8 is spread out over parts of four counties. In densely populated urban districts you might get 650,000 people spread across thirty to fifty square blocks, at least in principle within walking distance.)

In November, if we hope to gain control of the House and make the first steps toward election reform, we have to try to influence Democrats, Others, Libertarians, and some disaffected Republicans. We also have to be able to respond to Republican attack ads. None of this is cheap and none of it can be done by volunteers alone walking much needed and useful as that is. Sad, perhaps…but true.

Note: Thanks to research librarian SW for locating this data on the Secretary of State’s site. Link


WTF said...

What if you have volunteers and money? Weiss raised nearly $200k in her first 2 months and has over 800 supporters. Not to mention at least 2 polls showing her the favorite to win in the General.

Gabrielle will need to start defining herself as more than a centrist and career politician if she wants to be strong enough to win the General. She may take the Primary, but I don't know of too many Republicans or Independents who will vote for her in the General based on current feedback. Latas and Weiss do seem to have crossover appeal. Latas needs to raise a lot more money though to be viable. Weiss needs to get more machinery and operations behind her.

Kralmajales said...
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SonoranDesertRat said...

Tell me, did the fire and law enforcement unions interview any other candidates before issuing an endorsement? If not, then that endorsement means very little.

Don't be surprised if Patty makes some big strides in this campaign. She is learning the campaign business and doing so very quickly. Her name recognition is not a reason to vote for her. But it is a powerful asset for her to get her message out, and to get media attention.

Latas is not going away. He's learning the fundraising business, but he is also busting some serious tail out on the campaign path. (Keep in mind that he is also working his full-time job while campaigning.) If he comes into any sort of money along the way, he'll really turn things upside down on this campaign. He's got some pretty good buzz spreading around. I wouldn't be amazed if he really starts gaining a lot of ground over the next couple of months.

I've said this before - I don't think Gabby will be able to put up the kind of fight that is needed in this district once the Republicans start the attacks in the general. They will hit hard and count on a wishy-washy response - or no response. ("Stay positive" may sound like a nice way to stay above the fray in these cases; it's also a great way to lose an election.) I know Latas will hit back hard and harder if they attack him. I'm waiting to gauge Patty to see how she might react under those circumstances. Republican attack ads may be dirty, but they are effective, and I've seen nothing out of Gabby to show me that she can fight back.

vetdem said...

Why does an endorsement mean little with out an interview?

Voters choose candidates without interviewing them. Unions are run by some smart folks that can do the same. They can figure out what candidates stand for, what there qualifications are and how successful they are likely to be. It isn't rocket science.

It appears that everytime Giffords gets another important endorsement someones claims that it is meaningless without the "interview." Give me a break.

Kralmajales said...
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SonoranDesertRat said...

They are not meaningless, but they do mean less. It's not sour grapes - it's past experience. I've been on camapigns befroe where uncontested endorsements have been handed out. Those have turned out to not be of any substantative help to the campaign.
As for the Band of Brothers - Jeff is one of them, not just "like" them. He's a member of the group, one of the 40+ vets running for seats. Of course he's going to have their backing. You don't imagine that the Arizona Tire & Service Dealers Association is going to tell Gabby that they've decided they're not going to back her, do you? But other endorsements are suppoed to affect a much larger swath of people, and that is why it is important to at least check out the candidates before endorsing them.
I wouldn't call Gabby the front-runner just yet, btw.

vetdem said...

Just saw on Gifford's website that she has been endorsed by the Sierra Vista DFA. How cool is that?

Kralmajales said...
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Liza said...
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Liza said...

I think we have created a system where the most organized, the most networked, and the most effective fundraiser wins. How cool is that? I guess its great if those are the credentials most needed for Congress.

Get real. There are life and death issues to consider and we're talking life and death on a huge scale. Hundreds of thousands of lives are at stake. If you don't think so, go back and read the statistics on the first Gulf War. Time has a way of shedding light on what really happens in these wars as documents are declassified, witnesses start to speak, people get sick and die, and statisticians compile the data. Try to get your mind around what we are eventually going to find out about the war in Iraq.

Do any of you vote based on an "endorsement"? If so, God help us.

We need a representative in Congress with a strong background in US foreign policy and who has the guts to speak out about the ill fated direction we are going. The best candidate in the CD8 race is Jeff Latas.

And, by the way, I'm not working on the Latas campaign. This is just my opinion. I like to read and think for myself and I don't put much stock in endorsements.

vetdem said...

Endorsements do mean something in that it is the opinion of a certain group that a certain candidate is most qualified. Latas, Weiss and Giffords all have recieved endorsements. Giffords has received the most because a lot of folks think that she is the most qualified. I happen to agree. I am a veteran of the first gulf war and don't believe that flying aircraft in combat and working in the pentagon makes someone a strong candidate. I think experience in elected office and working as a legislator is much more important. In my opinion Giffords will be a much more effective representative.

Liza said...

Just to be fair, I have heard Latas speak at least five times and he is very articulate about US foreign policy. Maybe he spent some of his free time studying history?

Endorsements are usually given by special interest groups to the candidates who will promote their special interest. I think this is very different from identifying the "most qualified" candidate.

I think its great for you that your favorite CD8 candidate is doing so well with endorsements and has so much money. I wish that my favorite candidate could compete with your favorite, but that's going to be hard to do, isn't it? Quite frankly, I would like to see a level playing field. Maybe "clean elections" at the national level?

vetdem said...

I'd like to see clean elections nationally as well. I read an excerpt from James Carville's new book that has an interesting proposal regarding campaign fundraising. It's in the book he did with that Begula guy.

While I would really like to see Giffords win the primary and think she will, if Latas wins I will support him 100% in the general.

I find it interesting that some of his online supporters have been very negative this early. Not a good trend.

TooBlue4U said...

Kralmajales, I'm sorry, but you're dead wrong. Liberals don't like GG. They know she's a conservative jonny come lately to the Demo party. A Democrat In Name Only. I know of no liberals who are excited by her candidacy. I hope you're right that this is the year of the Democrat, but given the breakdown of the district, I think that even if you're right and Gabby wins the primary, it'll go like this: Liberals and some moderates will hold their noses and vote for her. Conservatives, independents and the rest vote for the GOP. GOP wins the seat - again. After all if liberals can't trust her, why should conservatives vote for her? They'll have their own nominee.
You can say Weiss' poll is a name-recognition poll, but how is that a BAD thing? She's also turning out to be one of the few candidates in the field who takes an actual stand on issues that matter to people. And Gabby can't put herself in that group. I don't care what the issue is, health care, education, publicly-funded campaigns, she's one of the very few who's running an issues-oriented campaign that hasn't double-talked, that takes some stands on something other than how much money she's raising.