Following the 2014 elections, we wanted to hear from you on what you think Arizona Democrats should do moving forward.
We asked an intentionally open-ended question because we wanted to encourage a conversation. What worked? What didn’t? What would you like to change?
The response was overwhelming. Nearly 400 of you went to our website to provide your thoughts – and the results provided an incredible cross-section of insight into what Arizona Democrats are thinking.
Three messages came across much more frequently than the rest. But before we get to that, we want to provide a quick note on methodology. This is not a scientific survey. We didn’t weight the answers or respondents as you would a poll – nor did we try to screen out respondents who are not registered Democrats.
Instead, this is our best attempt to capture a conversation we hoped to encourage. We look forward to hearing your continued responses.
What we heard from you:
1. Democrats should run as progressives
The most frequent line we heard is that Democrats should run on our progressive values. This response came in a few varieties, from a desire that Democrats more strongly defending President Obama’s policies to more forcefully attacking Republicans on progressive issues.
There is a clear demand for a progressive vision in Arizona. Those who responded to this survey indicated they believe the state would be likely to back a candidate who supports progressive ideas rather than one who runs away from them.
2. Democrats need to do more to make sure our voters vote
The second most common message was that Democrats aren’t voting and/or aren’t doing enough to make sure Democrats vote. We saw record low turnout throughout the state, and clearly there is a lot of rethinking that needs to occur regarding our get out the vote operations in Arizona.
But low turnout was a problem throughout the country, despite enormous resources being spent on both sides. Many of those who wrote about low turnout connected it to negative advertising and “dark money.”
There was a common belief throughout the survey that the tone of the campaign depressed turnout. Part of this line of response blamed the Citizens United decision for opening up corporate spending on our politics. There was also a sense, however, that our candidates need to present a more positive vision.
3. Democrats need to work harder all year round
This third message captures a sense within the survey that Democrats just need to do “more” in order to win in Arizona.
Advice on where those additional efforts should be directed fell into three major camps:
1. More outreach to Democratic base votes
2. More effort behind articulating what we believe
3. More work to turnout young voters and Latino voters
Each of these responses speaks to a belief that not enough people are participating in the democratic process. The most common solution to that problem is more consistent engagement with voters throughout the year.
2014 was an extraordinarily difficult year for Democrats throughout the country. But Arizona Democrats do not believe that wholesale changes to the party’s identity or message are needed.
The most common thread throughout this survey is that Arizona Democrats are proud of who they are and what they represent. They believe this state can change and that Arizona will one day be a blue state. Arizona Democrats also believe the state is ready to embrace a progressive message, and want to see candidates who project that belief.
This survey, again, is not a scientific reflection on Democratic voters. But before moving on to 2016, we wanted to hear your thoughts on 2014. What’s above is simply what you had to say.