GarCo Dems' Game Plan for Turning Garfield County Solidly Blue
As the Garfield County Democrats, we are working to elect open-minded, forward-thinking leaders at every level of government—including school boards, board of county commissioners, and our CD3 representative. Given the current political landscape of our county, we know it’s going to take a strong, strategic, long-term plan to achieve that goal.
Our analyses of voting data from recent years have identified three main groups of voters we need to target in order to increase voter turnout and elect Democratic leaders:
- Progressive unaffiliated voters in the east end of the county
- Democrats and moderate unaffiliated voters in the west end of the county
- Latino voters (Latino voters make up the largest pool of potential voters to target)
As we work to turn out more voters in each of these categories, we are confronted with similar challenges every election cycle: people express mistrust and disappointment that “the only time I ever hear from the local Democrats is during election time;” our canvassing efforts—door-knocking, phone-calls, texting—are limited by the fact that most volunteers are reaching out to people with whom they have no personal connection; we struggle to find messaging that will resonate with both moderate and progressive voters; we lack any significant connection with the Latino community. The starts and stops of each election cycle make it difficult to make progress on any of these challenges.
In building our long-term plan to overcome these hurdles, we have been inspired by Democratic leaders like Stacey Abrams who recognize the the need for Democrats to engage with our communities year-round, election years and off-years; the importance of investing in the inclusion of community members who are typically absent from the political process; the power of grassroots organizing; and the evidence that committing to a long-term plan can make a profound impact in red-leaning districts.
Our work is also informed by a growing body of research on:
- The power of relational organizing. Research has confirmed what we know intuitively, that it is those who have a trusting relationship with a voter that can have the most significant impact in terms of whether and how that person votes. (NYT 2020; Medium 2019; Future of the Field)
- A messaging framework that resonates with both moderate and progressive voters and is effective at both persuading the middle and energizing our base. (We Make the Future; Words to Win By podcast)
Drawing on the research above as well as lessons learned from past elections in Garfield County and successful progressive wins across the country in 2020, we have developed a long-term plan that includes some new innovative projects in addition to our ongoing efforts.
We need your support in order to put this plan into action. We invite you to join us!
Elements of the GarCo Dems Game Plan
The Latino community represents a major potential voting bloc in Garfield County. If Democrats are going to garner the Latino vote, we need to make a significant investment in listening to and working with our Latino community members. Thanks to some very generous donors, we have raised to funds to hire a full-time Latino Outreach Director who will focus on building relationships, listening to people’s hopes and concerns, earning people’s trust, informing people about the political process, sharing the fundamentals of what the Garfield County Dems stand for, registering people to vote, and recruiting and training new community leaders who will encourage political engagement among people in their social networks.
Holding elected officials accountable
We are researching and documenting the ways that Republican elected officials, from our County Commissioners to Representative Boebert, are working against the interests of working people and families in Garfield County. Specific projects include working with local environmental groups to document and publicize the ways in which Garfield County Board of County Commissioners have spent county funds to defeat statewide measures to protect our air, water and public lands, and block efforts to hold oil and gas operators accountable for the environmental messes they leave behind. We also publicize Calls to Action on specific issues to make sure all elected officials are serving our interests.
Modeled after the Nebraska Dems Block Captain Program, we are adopting this innovative structure for grassroots, neighbor-to-neighbor organizing. Each Block Captain volunteer commits to reaching out to left-leaning voters in their own neighborhood three times each year, sharing a flier provided by the GarCo Dems. Asking volunteers to canvas in their own neighborhoods and helping volunteers become comfortable knocking on doors when it’s not election season is a powerful way to develop an effective and efficient team of outreach volunteers.
Strategic social media
Social media is a powerful tool for building community and influencing voters. We now have a professionally-designed Social Media Action Plan that we are putting into action in order to reach a broader and more diverse audience, amplify the voices of left-leaning community leaders, engage more young people, and strengthen our message about the values and vision that we stand for as the Garfield County Dems.
Engaging on issues that impact the everyday lives of people across Garfield County
Families and working people across Garfield County share much more common ground than many think, specifically around values that Democrats fight for. We are engaging with our community on issues that impact the everyday lives of people across the political spectrum, including wildfire safety (county-wide wildfire council; wildfire townhalls), housing, and childcare.
Voter registration efforts
Voter registration will be an important part of our Latino Outreach Director’s work. Across Congressional District 3, there are an estimated 87,000 Latino community members who are eligible to become voters, but have not yet registered. Our Latino Outreach Director will work to connect with those potential voters who reside within our county. We are also organizing voter registration efforts throughout our community by sharing information at Colorado Mountain College campuses and high schools as well as local organizations, events and businesses.
We are constantly on the look-out for qualified individuals who would consider running for office. We need candidates for positions at all levels of governments, including school board, county commissioner, sheriff, and others.
Monthly Columns in the Post Independent
Maintaining our website: garcodems.org
We have also created a Spanish version of our website: es.garcodems.org
Outreach Circle digital relational organizing
Friends connecting with friends is the most effective way to influence voters. A simple “I voted. Have you voted yet?” message from a friend has been shown to improve voter turnout by as much as 20%! Outreach Circle is the tool that the GarCo Dems are using to make it easy for friends to reach out to their network of friends. We encourage all of our supporters to sign up.
Adopting new digital tools
These new digital tools are helping us coordinate different aspect of our work so that we can operate work more efficiently and effectively. We are developing a database that will include useful information on all of our volunteers, donors, and supporters from past and present years. We're continuing to recruit and train tech-savvy volunteers to help with this work.
There are many different ways that people can help out and we are always looking for more people to join our team!
We initiated our monthly donor campaign in 2021: Every Day Dem campaign
We organized two fundraising events in 2022: a virtual event in January, Zoom to a Brighter Future with the GarCo Dems and in-person Spring into Action! party and fundraiser in May at the Homestead Bar & Grill in Carbondale. We also organize regular gatherings for our supporters to get to know each other, enjoy the company of like-minded friends, and learn about how they can get more involved with the GarCo Dems, including our annual Summer Picnic (2021 picnic photos) and our 2021 Patio Party/Volunteer Sign-Up Party. We also organize Meet & Greet events with candidates and elected officials.
Caucus and County Assembly
Our 2022 Caucus took place on March 5; County Assembly was on March 12. We had even more people registered for our 2022 Caucus than for our 2020 Caucus -- even though the 2020 Caucus was in-person and took place during a presidential election year. That's a good sign that Democrats are gaining momentum in our county.
Maintaining a positive presence throughout our community
We engage in projects to get out into the community and improve our public spaces, including highway clean up efforts and outdoor environment projects. You'll also see at parades as well as community festivals and events.
Get Out the Vote efforts
We are mobilizing volunteers to call, text, write postcards, and knock on the doors of voters as we get close to Election Day.