Stand Up Straight-34-39
Stand Up Straight
Creamer Dec 2009
Pretitle: Listen to
your Mother Subtitle: How Progressives Can Win
Conducting a Legislative
Filling a Low Pressure
Issue campaigns and probably political movements in general can be
thought about the way was because of storms. Everyone has seen the TV
weatherman say: "the storm is beginning to get organize," or "the storm
is beginning to fall apart," or "this storm is very well organized and
packs quite a wallop."
Issue campaigns are the same way -- and to some extent for the same
reason. Every low pressure wave in the atmosphere doesn't develop into
a powerful storm. Atmospheric forces have to combine to create
circulation around the wave that concentrates its power into a storm
and causes it to intensify.
The same way with a political movement. A situation must exist that
causes some group to perceive that there means are not being met. Then
someone or some group organizes a round of this unmet need. If this
leadership group is successful then they convince additional groups
that there are unmet needs and this attracts a storm of action
By 2007 the public opinion battle to end the war in Iraq was pretty
much won. Then President Bush announced his "surge." MoveOn.org and
USAction got together to create Americans Against Escalation in Iraq
(AAEI). He describes the actions taken by this group.
What Will It Take to Win?
The first step is to decide what it will take to win our point of view.
In a legislative campaign this means we have to count the number of
votes it will take to win including any special considerations such as
cloture in the Senate.
Targeting Type -- Changers, Squealer's, Exemplars
In a campaign directed at Congress we generally need to target three
types of members. The first are those whose votes we can change -- the
changers. The second group are the "Squealer's" whose behavior affects
the decisions of others. "Squealer's" react loudly to pressure.
They raise the "subjugation cost" that their leadership has to pay
to keep them in line. The final group are the exemplars -- these are
targets who become examples for others (remember you don't have to hang
them all -- just one in the public square).
Some of our research it has to do with the examination of voting
records of the members of Congress, public statements and news accounts
about the legislator and his views on the issue in question, the
legislator's campaign contribution history, voting history of the
Legislature's district, the legislator's work, employment, and business
history, an analysis of the latest legislator's personal financial
disclosures, Intelligence gathered through personal conversation with
those who know the legislator,and first-hand personal knowledge of the
Messaging to Legislators
The messages we send it to legislators depend upon the analysis we have
performed in previous step.
Methods of Communicating
Our methods of communicating with legislators are generally broken into
three categories, very forceful, medium forceful, and less forceful.
Among the very forceful meetings are personal meetings with the
legislate or, large "town hall" style meetings with constituents
and meetings at the legislator's office. Of particular importance are
meetings where the press is involved.
Among the medium forceful meetings are grassroots phone calls to
legislators or their offices, individually written letters mailed to a
legislator's office, hand delivered position papers, and faxes.
The least forceful methods of communicating our e-mails, form letters,
postcards, and petitions.
Interest groups generally think they are doing a good job if they hold
meetings of advocates, track legislation, send over position
papers, and have a few press events. Unfortunately these activities are
only relevant to the members of the group. The most important activity
which can result in actual change is communicating directly with the
people themselves, the members of Congress, Heads of agencies or
whomever. The author presents a list of these which appear on page 286:
Delivering Issue Messages to Voters The key to
effective issue campaigns are field and press operations aimed at
voters. We analyze the perceived
self-interest of the voters (or legislators) and then construct a
narrative using a variety of media.
- Set weekly targets for phone calls to members of Congress.
- Systematically work leadership rewards for crucial
- Recruit and train leaders who can lead confrontations with
members of Congress at public appearances, town hall meetings, or their
- Demand meetings with members of Congress for leaders and
groups. If the member won't meet, run a campaign to drum up pressure
for the meeting.
- Run campaigns to pass resolutions by local and state
bodies, organizations, etc.
- Set quotas for individually written letters to members of
Congress each week.
- Set quotas for letters to the editor of from key leaders
- Use the press operation to book leaders on local talk shows.
- Assure that leaders from key constituencies are highlighted
earned media that is seen by the target member of Congress.
- Involve local leaders in nationwide events; he gives them a
understanding that they are involved in something important.
- Recognize that the same tactics are not appropriate for all
targets. A generally friendly Democrat should never be treated in the
same way as a generally unfriendly Republican.
- Consider using "Webinars" -- seminars held over the web to
your grassroots network up to speed.
- Use "virtual marches" that organize phone callers through
to call the Capitol at specific times of day at specific times during
the day when the goal is to completely clog the phone at a a
- Remember that each member has its own distinct set of
Media for Communicating
Again the author provides a list of over a dozen key techniques for
getting issue messages to the voters with the goal being for the voters
to then contact their representatives:
Starting Something Is Harder Than
From 1994 until 2007, progressives used all of the legislative
techniques they could think of to slow down right-wing initiatives.
Since then conservatives have you been using all of the legislative
techniques that they could think of to stop progressive
initiatives. Both houses of Congress are getting quite good
this. It is getting very difficult to get any legislative
in Congress. The author doesn't offer any foolproof ways of getting
this done and it is obviously going to be a big problem for years to
- Direct Mail
- Earned Media
- Print Advertising
- Door to Door Canvassing
- Mass Meetings
- Volunteer Phone Banks
- E-Mail and Websites
- Passing Leaflets and Other Material at Mass Locations
- Outdoor Advertising
- Paid TV
- TV Coupled with the Earned Media
- Organizational Networks, Meetings, and Newsletters
Union Locals, Etc.
C. 35 Campaigns Aimed at Government
Don't Make Waves
As a group, bureaucrats do not want problems. If you're running an
issue campaign aimed at a decision-maker who is a bureaucrat the major
goal is to convince the target that you will cause him more trouble if
he doesn't do what you want and the trouble he will face if he does do
what you want.
Protecting the Budget
A very important bureaucratic self-interest is protecting their budget.
Budgets are source of power and prestige in a bureaucracy. To the
extent that you have power over the budget in a bureaucracy, you have
power over that bureaucracy.
Bureaucracies tend to be very jealous of their territory, their turf.
To the extent that you can act as a buffer between agencies to keep
them out of turf wars or the extent that you can help them maintain
their turf you are their friend.
C. 36 Campaigns Aimed at
The Self-Interests of
business leaders are simpler than governmental leaders, if you wish to
get to a business leader you just need to get to the bottom line and the
bottom line in most businesses is controlled by consumers and
Pesticides and Lysol
Sandwiches at O'Hare
Wal-Mart and the Living
Sears and US
Aimed at Business
A Combination Campaign
Aimed at Business And the Government -- "Save the Swordfish... Try the
These are all examples of how pressure was put on a business, changed
the reactions of that business or to gain their assistance in putting
pressure on a third organization.
C. 37 Organizations and iTheir Capabilities
Progressive victory does not simply imply great messaging and strategy.
It also involves great organizing. It involves creating
progressive campaigns and organizations to engage the energy of
millions of ordinary Americans in a serious progressive
Organizations are not simply the sum of the individuals who participate
in them. All organizations, including political organizations, develop
characteristics in and of themselves that heavily impacted their
capabilities to achieve goals. In his book The Innovator's Dilemma,
Clayton Christiansen argues that there are three essential factors that
affect what an organization can and cannot do: its resources, its
processes, and its values.
Resources are people, things, and assets. They can be recruited, hired,
fired, sold, depreciated, or enhanced. In political terms, an
organization's most important resources are its people (employees,
leadership, and members), money, name, technology, equipment,
information, vendors, and relationships with other political actors.
organizations, processes develop as a means to tackle specific problems
that the organization normally confronts. When an organization attempts
to use processes that were developed to solve one set of problems to
solve a different set of problems it may well fail. By their very
nature, processes and organizations are developed to perform routine
tasks efficiently. They are not meant to change. When the task changes,
it is often difficult for organizations to change their processes. In a
political context, processes are the patterns of interaction,
coordination, communication and, and decision-making through which the
organization alters the behavior of those who it would seek to
any organization are the criteria by which decisions about priorities
are made. In political organizations, these include the value is used
to determine the types of goals the organization seeks to achieve,
those whose behavior attends its attempts to influence, the processes
it emphasizes, where it spends its money, and the tactics it considers
most effective. An organization's values can become embedded
its culture, and that makes them very hard to change, especially when the
organization is confronted with tasks for which its values are
The Importance of Culture
processes and values of an organization come to define organizational
culture. An organization's culture is defined by stories, heroes, role
models, mentors, and above all, the kind of "transforming leaders"
discussed in section 4.
In the early stages of an organization's history, much of the
organization's capabilities reside in its resources, especially it's
people. As an organization grows and gains experience, the locus of its
capabilities shifts towards its processes and values. An organization's
processes and values -- its culture -- exist independently of the
people within it. Culture becomes a characteristic of the
organization that can only be changed with great difficulty and the
intense focus of the organization's top leadership. On the other hand,
it is critical to create a strong culture in order to succeed over the
long run. For an organization to become large, powerful, and effective,
you can't rely on the wisdom of a few organizational founders. You have
to have a broadly shared culture that defines the organization itself.
One of the reasons why many progressive organizations and startup
businesses are successful at first and then "flameout" after a short
while is their failure to create a strong culture of processes and
values that move the locus of the organization's capabilities from a
small group of people to the culture of the organization itself.
C. 38 The
Qualities of Great
What entrepreneurs are to business, political organizers are to
political organizations. There are two categories of
organizational values that are almost always critical to create
effective political organizations. They are:
Thinking like an Organizer "thinking like an
needs to spread throughout the organization.
- Thinking like an organizer
- Excellence in execution
Organizers need to be very good at decoding people's self interests,
and picking up the signals that allow them to understand what motivates
Assessing the Capability
Individual to Become Involved
Once an individual has been identified and their self interest has been
determined, then the organizer needs to assess their ability to perform
the needed tasks. Do they have the financial ability to donate money,
do they have the time and skills to do data entry, would they be good
at voter contact?
Meaning Is the Greatest
Organizers need to understand that most of their staff members bring to
separate needs to the organization. There is the need to be a part of
something bigger than themselves as well as the need to stand out and
play an important personal role.
Being an Agitator
Going back to our early definition of an organizer, an agitator is someone who rubs raw the source of discontent.
Their task is to bring into the consciousness of individuals the
injustices that people have learned to take for granted, ignore, or
look past. Agitators keep us slightly on edge -- in motion. They dispel
complacency. To think like an organizer some part of you has to be an
One Step at a Time -- Take Them to the 95th
An organizer is not going to convince anyone to take over a campaign
without preparation. It's going to take a lot of individual
steps. A first step may be something as simple as "Come with me while I
talk to John James, I think he may support our candidate."
After doing this once or twice he may have feel comfortable in being the one
who does is speaking. Using such incremental steps it won't be long
until you have the trainee going out and training others.
You can't just ask once, you need to invite people to meeting his
multiple times, remind the press daily of upcoming events.
The Art of the Ask People like to be asked. If
running for public office, ask people to vote for you, ask people what
they think of the problems of the day, ask, ask, ask.
The other half of asking is listening. The more people say and the more
relatively intelligent questions you can ask the more people will
identify with you and think that you understand and care about the
Closing the Deal Is about
Quid Pro Quo
When we ask people we never beg. We always pay them in some currency
drawn from their self interests. It may be to get out and socialize, it
may be to get together others who have the same interest as they do, or
what ever. The important thing is that you do something for them and
they do something for you.
The art of an organizer is building relationships. It's
warm smiling face asking people about their lives, their kids, their
teams, whatever. When chips are down you are much more likely to get
help from a friend rather than from a stranger.
There Is No Such Thing As
Saul Alinsky said "There is no such thing as apathy -- only bad
organizers." It is our responsibility to organize others, not their
responsibility to volunteer their services.
Issue or electoral campaigns are much more prone to fail because of
poor execution than they are because of poor strategic or message
Pride in Teamwork
The first factor is pride and teamwork. We need to be proud of each
other and of our organization. We need to make sure that our job is
done well and we need to be able to feel that every other job is done
well at the same time.
As campaigns move towards their conclusion there are always thousands
of distractions. At times like this you need to focus on what needs to
be job done and what your task is in this overall process. Without
suitable practice at this the distractions take over and we tend to
lose our ability to pay attention to the important signals.
You Are the Message
In election campaigns, the campaign tends to become part of the
election. If the campaign is the exciting, inspiring, fun to be a part
of -- people tend to think the that the candidate is exciting,
inspiring fun to be with etc. However if the campaign is boring,
unwelcoming, and no fun -- people will start thinking that the
candidate is a boring, unwelcoming and no fun. These attitudes will
very quickly spread and the press will pick up on them.
A Winning Attitude
Excellence in Execution
Requires a Culture
Designed to Produce Winners.
It is critical that an organization have a culture that always
encourages a winning attitude and never allows a losing attitude to
spread. Successful organizations create systems designed to produce
winners they celebrate winning when it occurs and set goals so that most people
It is essential that we plan how our campaign will proceed and allocate
our resources appropriately but it is also doubly essential that we
realize that when the ground rules change our plan will have to change
also. We need to understand that our plans must be flexible enough to
change almost daily if that's what it takes.
Nuts and Bolts
Excellence in politics is more about nuts and bolts than grand
strategies or plans. It's about carefully and correctly executing the
voter ID and GOTV plans. It's about the people who tell you
why they can't achieve a goal and those who actually achieve them, we
don't want to know why something can't be done. We are looking for people who
can find a way to succeed.
One of the keys to successful execution of issue and political
campaigns is to break the project down into doable parts and execute
each discrete part with rigor and discipline. Individuals working on
their own times by their own selves may or may not get the job done,
but whole group working in a phone bank or other organized setting will
greatly increase your productivity for most people.
Year Round Door to Door
The author describes his meeting with Marc Anderson in 1973. Marc had
been a successful door-to-door businessman and had some ideas as to how
he could raise money going door-to-door. He was quite successful and
this formed of the basis for fundraising for many groups over the years
including Citizen Action, Public Interest Research Groups, Greenpeace,
the Sierra Club and many others.
That Which Is Not
Is Not Done
The author has been in political organizing for many years and one of
the lessons he has learned is "That which is not measured is not done.
If you set out to accomplish something, but don't include some manner
of measuring how much you are accomplishing, the job will not get done.
Hopefully organizations need to establish procedures that can assure accountability. They have to have values that emphasize its
importance. These must be institutionalized from the first day.
This accountability must hold for all members of the team, the
leadership must be accountable to those below them, those at a given
level need to feel that his immediate team members are accountable to
him and he is accountable to them, and those at the bottom and need to
feel that management is doing its job and working for the organization,
not just for themselves. If these feelings of accountability do not
hold for all members of the organization, the organization will be not
nearly as effective as it could be.
- Measurement Rule #1 Don't measure performance solely with respect
to fixed goals that are set by the organization or its leadership. People
are particularly responsive to measuring their performance relative to
their peers, you need a comparative measurement system.
- Measurement Rule #1 Set short-term, daily goals. If
long-term goals need to be set, their measurement should come out of
the daily fulfilling of short-term goals.
- Measurement Rule #3 Quotas and goals should never be set so
high that most people in the group cannot achieve them with regularity.
Quotas should stretch people to people to a certain extent but failure
- Measurement Rule #4 Expect each member of the team to reach
the goal Expect victory. It'll need to assume that the goal is achievable.
- Measurement Rule #5 Goals must be concrete, specific, and
quantitative. Some is not a number. Soon is not a time.
The Values and Procedures of Effective
Organizations Encourage the Use of Positive Reinforcement And Intrinsic
Positive Reinforcement is the most
efficient way of changing people's behavior. Negative reinforcement will change
behavior, but most often
you have no way to know which way it will be changed. There are a
number of rules for providing an effective positive reinforcement:
Positive Reinforcement Rule # 1: It should be specific -- it should
reward concrete action. Rewarding achievement of a concrete goal is
more effective than rewarding overall performance.
Positive Reinforcement Rule # 2: It should be immediate, the closer the reward is in time to the action rewarded, the better.
Positive Reinforcement Rule # 3: Reward small wins as well as large
ones. There are a lot more small wins than there are large wins, which
have a tendency to go to management.
Positive Reinforcement Rule # 4: Intangibles like leadership attention
are important forms of positive feedback. Making people feel important
is an especially significant form of positive reinforcement.
Positive Reinforcement Rule # 5: Unpredictable and intermittent
reinforcements work best. A volunteer the week is good.
Positive Reinforcement Rule # 6: Small rewards are sometimes more effective than large ones. Small special rewards that are spread around are generally better than one large award that goes to one person.
Inspiration Leads to Self Motivation
Accountability rules written on paper are essential but not
sufficient. The attitude must be internalized. Volunteers
walking in the door must be treated well, they must be well-trained,
questions must be answered in a positive manner, and they need to be
thanked both formally and informally with refreshments, briefings on
the campaign, and why this election and their help is so important.
Great Political Organizations Move People into Action Excellence in execution requires a culture that prioritizes putting people into motion.
The Culture of Great Political Organizations is Fun Great
organizations are about relationships and team-building. Both
are forged in informal get-togethers and social time. The bonds of
relationship and sense of team may be nurtured in the soil of hard
work, but the fertilizer you want to add to the mix is fun.
Turning Negatives into Positives Politics
involves contests. In the contest, you always have a set of strengths and
weaknesses. But the traits that are strengths in one context may be
weaknesses in another. A good organizer is constantly searching
for opportunities to turn negatives into positives. In many cases this
depends upon how the trait is framed and positioned.
Hire for Attitude and
Train for Skill
Generally it is easier to train for skill than it is to change
ingrained attitudes or habits.
The Cultural Foundation for Progressive Success The building
blocks of a culture of successful progressive organizations, and for a progressive
movement are a) Thinking like an Organizer, and b) Excellence in
The Role of Progressive Leaders In
order for progressive organizations to succeed we need transforming
leaders. And these transforming leaders must be scattered throughout
the organization, not just candidates and public officials. To be
an effective transforming leader requires two attributes:
Believability To be
believable you have to be able to competently perform any tasks that you ask others to do.
is provided by purpose. Purposes provided by leaders who communicate
the intrinsic meaning of the required tasks and appeal to their
followers own need for meaning and purpose. Purpose is communicated by
Building Progressive Institutions
To institutionalize is to infuse with value beyond the technical
requirements of the task at hand.
The institutional leader is primarily an expert in the promotion and
production of values.
C. 39 An Example of the Importance of Organization
-- Campaign Field Operations
was first used in a political campaign in Connecticut in 1950. It was
next used in Eisenhower's campaign for president in 1952. Since then
most of the money spent on political campaigns has been spent for
television. Since that time there has been a huge expansion in the
political consulting business. The author feels that this has
been a huge mistake. This centralization of political power was aided
and abetted by the demise of big-city patronage-based organizations
during the 1970s and 1980s. Since 2002 this trend has begun to reverse
itself but there are still many entrenched self-interests that tend to
prevent the allocation of resources that are necessary to fight the
imbalance. Unfortunately, changing the culture of movements and
organizations is much more difficult than changing personnel.
Why Are Field Operations Critical?
1) Fully half of the target voters whose behavior can be changed in
most campaigns are low propensity voters who would support our
candidate if they were motivated to vote.
One study showed that
the first and
second attempts to contact
voters improved voter turnout by 11% to 12% each. Additional contract
by live phone calls increased actual turnout by 3.6%. The most
effective times to can contact voters turned out to be the day before
the election and on election day. GOTV campaigns on
radio are virtually useless. At best they motivate the opposition's
candidates equally as well as yours and at worst there may be something
in your presentation that actually increases the likelihood of the
opposition candidates supporters voting. The only time when
television GOTV campaigns have any likelihood of succeeding is when the
audience is greatly segmented such as ads on Black Entertainment
Television or Spanish-language television.
2) Door-to-door and volunteer-based phone operations are
enormously powerful "persuasion" media.
If candidates are very
voters may have made up their mind
prior to election day. As a corollary to this, voters who are not well
known such as the typical candidate for judicial offices or town and
county candidates are probably not known to the majority of the
electorate and a last-minute personal appeal may well be the most
significant factor in their decision to vote for or against this person.
3) Field operations put people in motion.
Good field operations
congressional district will have 1500 to
2000 volunteer participants by election day. By the time all
these people vote, and their families, and their friends, you have a
large number of votes for your candidate without any formal campaign
work. In many cases this in and of itself will be sufficient to tilt
the campaign in your favor.
High-Intensity Field Operations in
Electoral Campaigns In
some cases field operations have a very simple goal, Get Out The Vote.
At times this is enough, as when you have a large population of voters
who will support your candidate but are very unlikely to go to the
polls. In most campaigns, however, the field operation has five key
1) ID Identify enough
voters to win the
2) Persuasion Persuade undecided voters
3) GOTV Get out the vote.
Advance To find and staff candidate
appearances that provide opportunities to recruit volunteers and
new voters who are likely to
vote for our candidate.
Organizing a High-Intensity Field Operation
- Find an experienced Field Director who will manage day-to-day operations.
- The Field Director will report to the Campaign Manager.
- The Field Director should be supported by a senior consultant and he should
have a skeletal staff of 10 to 15 full-time paid organizers.
- Preferably these field organizers should be interested in pursuing a political organizing career and want to develop organizing experience.
- And as previously mentioned key hires for attitude and trains for skill.
- The organizers should be prepared to work 14 hours a day seven days per week for at least 17 weeks prior to the elections.
- Preferably they should come from out of town so that they will not have a life outside of the election.
- Before they go on duty the organizers have a five day training program and an orientation to the campaign and the District as well as spending some social time
bonding as a team.
- Finally, they received terse assignments and
specific quantitative goals for volunteer recruitment, voter
registration, voter IDs, sign placement, and other elements of the
early field operation.
- Systems are set up to measure every aspect of the campaign operation every day.
- Nightly reports on performance go to the campaign management and support staff.
- It is emphasized from the first day that everyone is expected to meet standards of performance every day.
- Those who do don't are released. It is critical to maintain standards.
The Field Plan Every
operation needs a carefully prepared field plan, this includes:
The field plan also
- Components of the "Run Universe." How many voters do
we need to win? Using the formulas described in Section 5, decide how
many "plus" voters we can identify it without using a door-to-door or
phone canvass. Calculate how many "close" voters need to be identified
through the canvas to exceed our "winning number."
- Voter I D. goals for Phone and Door-to-door Canvases. Phone
canvases are the most effective way of finding "plus" voters so
determine how many can be located by phone and plan on using
door-to-door canvassers to make up the difference.
Building the Volunteer
don't generally organize themselves. Full-time organizers are usually
necessary to create a highly structured volunteer operation. Field
organizers begin by enlisting volunteers into the field organizations
for their sector. They need to be given lists of potential leads in the
area and instructed as to how to find additional leads in the
community. Early leads include previously identified activists, the
candidate's family, party officials, and constituency group leaders.
Field organizers should of course look especially hard for the four major groups of communicators: connectors, mavens, salesmen, and
leaders. The steps necessary to build a volunteer organization include:
- A GOTV plan.
- A volunteer recruitment plan.
- A visibility plan.
- A plan for managing candidate appearances.
- A statement of the basic persuasion message that should be used
by phone and door-to-door canvassers.
- A field program budget.
The purpose of the one-on-one
meetings is to analyze the individuals
self-interest, assess his capability to become involved in the effort,
and obtained a commitment from him to take the first steps towards
involvement in the campaign. It is also intended to get further
referrals for additional leads. No organizer or should ever leave a
meeting without a list of potential new recruits.
- Identifying connectors, mavens, salesmen, and leaders.
- Conducting one-on-one or small group meetings.
- Gathering lists and referrals.
- Recruiting volunteers.
- Activating volunteers.
- Delegating responsibility -- assigning roles and creating
Recruiting Volunteers -- Why Do People Volunteer for
volunteer for campaigns for
numerous self interests, some of these are:
From the organizers point of view there is no one "best" reason get in
a campaign. All of them are good reasons. The organizers job is to
identify a self-interest that the campaign might address and make an
implicit or explicit arrangement with prospective volunteer in exchange
for some level of participation. The organizer must listen to the
person and if it is appropriate offer her a position in the campaign.
The potential worker must feel that he has something to gain from
participating, it must be a quid pro quo agreement.
- True believers. People who are fundamentally committed to the progressive cause.
- People who personally support or have strong attachment to the candidate.
- A new person in town may want to meet like-minded people.
- Build a resume. Campaigns are a great way to build resume
for future employment offer educational opportunity.
- Looking for a job. Potential volunteers may want to work
for the candidate if she is elected, or for one of her supporters.
- Social contacts. A senior may want to an opportunity to
spend some time with young people. The stay-at-home spouse may want adult
company. A young person may love become Rodrigue and responsibility.
- Motivated by single issue. Potential volunteers may see the
campaign or the election as a way to advance an issue agenda.
- Want to get out of the house. The campaign may provide a
structured way to get out, to do something different or exciting.
- Provide meaning or purpose. The campaign provides meaning and
purpose for its participants, the opportunity to be part of something
- Likes to be around politicians. Some people find politicians exciting.
- Looking for connections of the community. Campaigns are a good way to meet useful contacts.
- Looking for a date. Campaigns are pretty good way to troll for personal relationships too.
What Do You Ask Potential Volunteers to Do? Every
campaign is a
hierarchy of needs for volunteers, generally involve things like:
There are many other volunteer roles
in a field organization, these are
only a few of the important ones. You would want to start a new
volunteer towards the bottom of the list until they have proved
themselves and wish to become more deeply involved.
- Coordinated area, recruit and supervise precinct
- Precinct coordinator, to canvass his precinct several times
before Election Day and create a local GOTV operation (including early
voting and mailed ballot operations)
- Host a house party for other prospective volunteers
- Precinct volunteer -- work with the precinct coordinator to
accomplish his goals
- Volunteer to work Election Day in a precinct
- Phone canvasser -- make voter ID or GOTV calls
- Put up yard signs
- Attend a candidate house party
Closing the Deal Getting
someone to participate in the campaign involves exactly the same
elements as closing any sale, some of the keys are:
Structuring the Field Operation There
is no set organizational structure that is appropriate for all
campaigns. The only feature that is common to all is that they all must be
is the responsibility of all supervisors and coordinators to make sure
that the actual work of the campaign it's done every day. However it is
not just their responsibility to receive reports. It
is their responsibility to recruit volunteers, motivate them and
ultimately get the job done in their areas one way or the other. The culture must always be
accountability and excellence in execution, getting the job done.
- Always be asking
- Engage their self interest
- Know before any meeting with a prospective volunteer what you want to ask them to do
- Follow the hierarchy of volunteerism
- Use silence. It is your friend
- Always get a "real commitment".
- Review the commitment before the meeting ends so there is no misunderstanding.
- Recontact the prospective volunteer to remind her of the commitment before the agreed date
- Routinized Activity
- Once someone has indicated that they're willing to volunteer, contact him within 24 hours
- Make contact with every volunteer work in the organization at least once per week
- Always treat every volunteer with respect
- Celebrate short-term victories
- Never hesitate to hold a volunteer accountable, if you don't hold
them accountable they will not believe that their work is important
- Don't ever say no for anyone
- Never stop looking for leaders, remember that leaders have followers
- Investment in training is never a waste of time
- Keeping people motivated requires regular contact
Executing the Plan --
it costs less to register voters at mass locations, direct door-to-door
registration can be preferable in two circumstances:
The Voter ID Canvass In
a Congressional race, both the phone and door-to-door voter ID canvass
generally should begin no later than 16 weeks before election day. Each
ID canvasser should be comfortable with their "rap". A good voter ID
"rap" includes 1) Introduction, 2) ID question, 3) Volunteer ask, 4)
Possible Issue ID, 5) Farewell
- Door-to-door allows you to more effectively target a
or political group.
- If the same people who canvassed for registration will work
precincts throughout the campaign he or she may be able to develop a
relationship with those voters during the registration process.
Pre-Election GOTV Canvasses
Canvass #1 -- Two Months Out There should be at least two
GOTV canvases before election day. We should knock on every door in
high Democrat precincts and in all other households where we expect
there may be Democrats.
Canvass #2 -- 72 hours Out We should also canvass all voters in
the "run universe" in the three days prior to the election. If we have
scarce resources we should target mainly the mobilizeable voters. A
scrip or rap sheet should be provided to all canvassers as a model for
their work, this should include the following elements:
Other Message Methods of Delivering GOTV Messages Door-to-door
contact is the most effective method and has got to be our highest
priority but there are other techniques.
- Voter registration question
- GOTV ask
- Reiterate GOTV message
- Second GOTV ask (if necessary)
- Reiterate GOTV message
- Third GOTV ask (if necessary)
- Volunteer ask
Election Fairness Operations
are tactics that can be used before the election. Robert Kennedy Jr
first came up with this list in an article in Rolling Stone
are most effective as supplemental "reminder" contacts. They're most
useful if you call once in the evening before the election and one
early in the morning of election day.
and Yard Signs These serve as inexpensive ways
many repetitions of a simple GOTV message.
GOTV Radio and TV These
should only be used for African American or Spanish-language radio and
TV, not for the general audiences. Generally they should be delivered
in high concentration in the last two weeks prior to the
Action This is
most useful in urban areas, 72 hours before the election. It should be
used primarily in concentrated target communities.
Trucks This is very similar to Street Action above and
used in the same manner.
Mail This can be useful but it is the most expensive
contact and errors can cost us votes.
- Institutional GOTV
African American churches may have "Empowerment Sundays". As
nonpartisan churches they cannot formally support partisan candidates,
but GOTV campaigns are certainly appropriate.
Early Voting in Mail Ballots
Many states, especially in the West have gone to mail-in ballots. This spreads out election day to election month. Most make
available the names of people who have voted which gives us the opportunity to
directly target those who have not voted yet.
- Assure that there are an adequate number of voting machines in all Democratic precincts. With most voting equipment, a precinct should
have a minimum of one machine for each 200 expected voters.
- Check ballot configuration and do
whatever is necessary to avoid confusion.
- Identify precincts where judges of
elections have caused problems in the past.
- Verify the procedures to assure all
registered voters are on the rolls.
- Verify the provisional voting procedure.
- Set up a legal team for rapid response.
- Assure that problem precincts
have poll watchers in the polling place even if none is necessary to
monitor who has voted.
Preparing for Election Day
mail-in ballots are restricted a typical Congressional race would
require between 1,500 and 1,700 volunteers to run a serious Election
Day operation. Our goal for Election Today is to contact each voter up
to five times, until the votes -- three times door-to-door and twice on
At least 80% of election Day volunteers should attend a pre-election
day training. This should allow us to achieve three things:
The 72-Hour Drill
In the 72 hours before the election our organization needs to complete six
- They allow us to see who will show up, and who will not, before
the critical day itself.
- The allow us to completely train and orient volunteers on
Election Day procedures, schedules, and skills.
- They inspire volunteers. When they bump into each other at
training they communicate motivation to each other and they react to a
dynamic team environment.
How Many Volunteers Do We Need? To
get a better estimate than the 1,500 to 1,700 volunteers perform the
- Notify all households in the "run universe". If face-to-face
contact is not possible, a door hanger should be left motivating the
occupant to go to the polls and containing the address of the polling place.
- Finish preparation of all Election Day materials.
- Complete volunteer phone contact with all "run universe" households.
- Deliver early morning auto call to all "run universe" households.
- Deploy street action and sound truck operations -- including
Election Date passers at mass locations.
- Assure that legal and "election fairness" operations are executing their plan.
Starting at page 350 there are number of pages of numerical examples, lists of
needed supplies, activities, and reporting sheets. It would be best to
check the book for these.
- Determine the number of low propensity voters households in the voter file.
- You can get that number directly from the voter file or it can be
estimated by multiplying the number of low propensity target voters by .7.
- Multiply the maximum penetration rate at the door (approximately 65%).
- Divide the number of low propensity households by the contacts
per hour at the door (a maximum 10 to 12 ). This will give you
the number of canvasser hours.
Next file, Chapters 40-42
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