Our speaker Sam Almy, a Data Analyst with Uplift Campaign, describes what the new districts mean to Democrats and Republicans.
Sam has worked with any campaign from US President to the local school board. In 2008, Sam started political work in Tucson, working for the AZ Democratic Party’s Coordinated Campaign and reporting as the Voter File Manager for the Arizona Democratic Party. In 2010, he ran a paid canvass with US Congressman Raul Grijalva. In 2012, Sam moved to Phoenix to focus on data analytics.
“It’s all about turnout this year,” data analyst Sam Almy said at the March 31, 2022, Salon hosted by Democrats of Greater Tucson.
“We’re looking at voters who voted in 2016 and 2020, but missed voting in the 2018 mid-term elections. Those voters are going to be key to turn out in our Democratic districts. We love those voters. We need more of them for competitive districts LD 17. We want to continue that trend that’s headed Democratic.”
“I always say, give locally. You can give $50 to the DNC but your small donation is going to go further for a legislative candidate school or board candidates Help out wherever you can and any Democratic vote that you can turn out is going to be helpful.”
“This is going to be a very tough year for Democrats and that’s just historical performance. Whatever party is in the White House typically loses the next two years. So you know it’s going to be a tough year. We don’t want to see a slip backward in Arizona. We just got to blue. We don’t want to be like Florida and start slipping and trending back Republican.”
No enthusiasm gap
Despite what the media say, there is no Democratic “enthusiasm gap” in Arizona, according to DGT President Larry Bodine. “As a precinct committee person in LD18, I don’t see it. We’ve already done a canvass of intermittent voters and now we’re going to go out and do a second canvass to “super voters” — people who voted in the primary and the general election in three elections in a row. These are the people that we’re recruiting to be volunteers. Everybody’s really psyched up about it. Everybody’s eager to get back out knocking on doors. I don’t see this enthusiasm gap. What I see is a lot of excitement in the Democratic party.”
Tucson’s Race for Congress
The Independent Redistricting Commission created 14 safe Democratic legislative voting districts, including LD18, LD20 and LD21. However, the IRC created 16 safe Republican districts — including the bizarrely shaped LD19 and 17. He classifies the new LD16 in Casa Grande as a swing district.
Almy said that Tucson’s CD6 is the most competitive Congressional district in the state right now. The leading contenders are former state Senator Kirsten Engel for the Democrats, and an unknown candidate Juan Ciscomani for the Republicans, who has never run for office.
“There is an advantage for Republicans, they make up 36% of the district,” Almy said. “The registration advantage that they have is just under 20,000 voters. So it all really just comes down to the independent voters.”
“This is really encouraging to see. Certainly having Trump in the White House was a boon to Democratic campaigns. It was awful for the country, but it was great for Democratic activists. What we have to really pay attention to is having Trump out of the White House. Is that going to push this district back towards the red?”
“Democrats have struggled in recent years with reaching rural voters. This is a national issue. The Democratic party as a whole is having trouble reaching these rural voters and relating to them. We’ve done great in urban and suburban districts, but these rural districts are falling away and this is going to be very key to winning,” Almy said.
Generally speaking, independents vote about 60% Democratic. But if you get a voter in the Sam Hughes neighborhood in Tucson around the university, an independent there is very likely to vote Democratic like their neighbors are. But if you’re talking about Oro Valley or Green Valley, independents there will tend to vote more Republican,” Almy said.
As a result, many Democrats will run as moderates.
Voters choose the person, not the policy
“The Democrats have had policies now for 20 years that 70% of the population agrees with,” said LD17 state Senate candidate Mike Nickerson. “And because of that, I’ve come to the conclusion that people don’t vote on the policies. They tend to vote on how they perceive the person. And that’s hard for down-ballot candidates because they don’t know many people very well,” Nickerson said.
“Look at what I mean, Biden’s having a hard time getting approval ratings, and yet we’ve got the lowest unemployment in five decades, and we’ve got, higher wages for everybody. He’s done a whole lot of good things, but he’s not getting any credit for them,” Nickerson said. “And the Republicans are drumming away about inflation. But they won’t get that far. Because it’s how the person is perceived. If you put Biden up against Trump, again, Biden still wins. But if you put him up against someone who is perceived to be different, he might lose,” Nickerson said.
Bodine asked, “The Gallup Poll came out with a survey, looking at things that all Arizonans to agree on. It includes public education, affordable healthcare, sustainable practices to protect the environment, comprehensive immigration reform and jobs that pay well. So responding to Mike Nickerson’s comment, why don’t those positions hold sway? Those are all Democratic positions, but I can see Republicans supporting them as well,” he said.
Almy responded, “if you basically ask anybody what do you think about education — nobody’s going to be against education, but when it comes down to things like, how do we fund education? Do we raise taxes? Do we lower taxes? Do we have charter schools? Do we talk about what’s being taught in schools? Is there going to be critical race theory? Is it going to be, comprehensive sex education? When it comes down to that’s where we find the disagreements between the two parties. When you’re debating education, it’s not about more funding, because absolutely we do need it. It’s about how we get that funding,” Almy said.