Inside the Campaign Studio with Campaign Strategist Nancy Leeds

by Joe Fuld (He/Him)

Nancy Leeds Campaign strategist

Campaign Strategist; Nancy Leeds

This week's campaign strategist is Nancy Leeds. Nancy is a writer and Political Campaign Operative who recently earned her MPA in Social Policy and Management at Columbia University. Sometimes people hire her to work on their non-profits and campaigns. When that happens, these opinions are still hers and do not reflect those of her candidates.

As a campaign strategist, what is your least favorite campaign term? Why?

I don’t like when people talk about the “Off Year.” There is no off year. It is always election o’clock somewhere. When we’re not working, the other side is.

If you did not work in politics, campaigns, or as a campaign strategist what would you do?

I’d be a writer/essayist. I love finding just the right way to express a point and to make people laugh and connect., I think that’s why my blog has been successful. If I could write full-time I would, but without campaigns, I have nothing to write about!

What is your favorite vote contact method?

Door to door canvassing! When you're out door knocking there's nothing else you can or need to be doing and you're getting exercise, so I find it very relaxing and peaceful! I love the fact that elections can still be won by neighbors talking to neighbors!

If you could create a new tactic/improve on a current one, what would it be/how would you do it?

I'm not sure this is quite what you are looking for, but I hate that we have a culture of being in the office until all hours. Sometimes working into the night is necessary, but I'd vastly prefer that we work harder and smarter instead of longer. I'd like to see more campaigns giving organizers rotating weekly days off or mornings to sleep in. Right now, it's so easy to burn out and it makes long-term campaign work difficult to sustain, especially the best people who really work with passionate intensity. To do our best work and get the best work out of each other, it’s important to realize that you can't pour from an empty glass.

What is your favorite state?

Electorally, Minnesota is just so weird and interesting and people there are really proud of voting, and it was where I did my first campaign so I'd have to give it there. But in general, I'm a New Yorker and I would move back in a heartbeat given the opportunity.

What is your favorite restaurant outside of DC?

All Star Sandwich Bar in Cambridge, MA. Best sandwiches in the country.

What is your drink of choice?

Ice cold dirty martini for after a hard day or whiskey and ginger beer (not ginger ale) to celebrate.

As a campaign consultant, what is the strangest purchase you have ever made for a campaign?

Ice cleats to canvass in a blizzard.  

If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?

This is a really hard question to answer because of course making mistakes is how you grow. If I had known then what I know now I wouldn’t have chosen to work for John Edwards in the 2008 primary. But if that had been the case I wouldn’t have met some of my best friends, and made the connections I made and learned the lessons that later shaped who I became as a manager and a professional. But there was a level of anxiety I had in my twenties, which was most of my time on the ground, that I don’t have any more and if I could go back an remove that for myself and replace it with the confidence I have in my thirties I would.  

If you could invite 3 people to Dinner ( alive or dead) who would they be?

Theodore Roosevelt, Tim Gunn, and Oprah.

As a campaign strategist, what is your prediction for the 2016 presidential election?

I’m editing this much later in the cycle than when I first wrote it.  At this particular moment, I would say that I think Bernie supporters are going to heal a lot faster than the media narrative wants to pretend they will. The people who won’t vote for Hillary were never going to vote for Hillary regardless of whether Sanders had gotten in the race. The other people will come around. The party went through a healing process in 2008 and we will do it again. The stakes are just too high not to.  

For more interviews with campaign strategists or more content on political and advocacy campaigns, be sure to check out our previous Blog Posts!