I live in a city that borders Phoenix, Arizona. Yesterday was the last day to cast a vote in the Phoenix city government election, in which those city residents who bothered to register to vote could cast a vote for their next mayor, for their city council representative, and for two ballot initiatives. (Only about 5/8 of the residents, though, got to vote for a city council representative, as only half of the eight slots are voted upon every two years. As one of the mayoral candidates had stepped down from one of the council seats not up for election this year, that district also had an election.)
The Phoenix city government currently grapples with many problems, including bloated government bureaucracies, public employee pension funding shortfalls, etc. And things are so bad, that a whopping 15% of those registered to vote bothered to cast a ballot for their elected city representatives. Unfortunately, the “tea party” candidate for Phoenix mayor, Jennifer Wright, did not make the cut; as no candidate received a majority in the mayoral race, the two top vote-getters, one a Republican, one a Democrat, will compete in a runoff election in November. I volunteered to make GOTV phone calls for Ms. Wright’s campaign yesterday and her campaign was doing it the old-fashioned way — a volunteer calls the campaign, then the campaign e-mails the volunteer a precinct call list from Voter Vault along with scripts, fact sheets, etc. The GOTV calls I made targeted those Republicans, in a particular precinct, who “usually” voted. Some said “not interested” as soon as they heard I was a volunteer for a candidate for mayor and then hung up. Others said they had already voted or would go to the polls.
Fifteen per cent. Even when the city makes it easy to vote, with vote-by-mail and the opportunity to vote in person at any one of many “voting centers” over the course of several days, only 15% turned out. Of course, this represented a huge opportunity for Republicans, but the Republican vote was split between five candidates. (The race is non-partisan, but everyone knows who the lone Democrat candidate was.) The Democrat got the most votes, 37,759 (37.85%), the Republicans got 61,556 votes. The Republican receiving the most votes, and who will to to the runoff election in November against the Democrat, received 20,492 votes. The results are here: http://www.phoenix.gov/election/results.html.
Voter registration figures reveal that 200,940 Phoenicians registered Republican, 217,636 Democrat and 220,220 independent. But only 15% could bother with voting. Which represented a huge opportunity for Republicans if only we could get more of them to actually vote.
Does the fact that the Republican candidates received about 62% of the votes mean that the Republican should win handily in November? One would think so. But then Democrat turnout might have been light because only one Democrat was in this initial race. Also, it’s unlikely Republican turnout will be much better in November, based upon the general election turnout for the mayoral race back in the fall of 2007: a whopping 18.69%. Also, the Democrat will have the benefit of the use of VoteBuilder software to help coordinate the Democrat GOTV effort; the Republican Party likely will have no such software. Maybe the Republican candidate will.
Oh, and how much support did our Republican candidates receive from the Republican Party precinct committeemen who reside within Phoenix? For the 9 Legislative District Republican Party committees that sit wholly or partially within the Phoenix city limits, about 59 per cent of the allotted slots are vacant. And, on average, over a third of the precincts have no elected precinct committeemen at all.
But we’re trying to change that. For example, tomorrow night, at the Maricopa County Republican Party committee meeting, we’ll be devoting the bulk of the meeting for a brainstorming session on how to further increase the number of precinct committeemen in the county (we’ve gone from about 31 per cent of allotted slots filled in 2008 to now being at just over 50 per cent) and how to improve our abilities to help get Republicans and Republican-leaning independent registered voters to actually get to the polls and pull the lever for Republican candidates.
If you have not already taken the plunge, I hope you will consider getting involved with the Republican Party in your locale by attending your local committee meetings and exploring how to become a voting member of it. It’s actually very interesting, can be a lot of fun, and you’ll have an opportunity to put your talents to good use. (Indeed, there are some locales where the Republican Party has no organization at all — you might be appointed to be the chairman of an organization just by asking!) You’ll also be able to vote for the Party officers. Please see the links below for more information. Volunteering for a local Party position is a great way for conservatives to carry out their civic duty. I believe it’s the best way, especially in light of the fact that nationwide, on average, the Republican Party is at half strength. The Party needs more Redstaters in it — if you can spare a few hours a month to attend your local committee meeting, I believe you’ll find that time to be well spent.
We’ll have a more conservative Republican Party when we have more conservatives in it.
Will YOU help make 2011 “The Year of the Precinct Committeeman?”
[Cross-posted at UnifiedPatriots.com.]