The Campaign Workshop Feed

You Are What You Tweet Twitter Strategy and First Impressions  Just like first impressions, your Twitter strategy can go a long way. After setting up your account, it’s time to actually tweet! Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind, and keep your tweets optimized all while focused on the overall goal of your campaign. Top Twitter Strategy Do’s Do Tweet Often: The more you tweet, the more you optimize for your account. Tweeting often will help you get your message across to a larger audience and expand the reach of your message. Do Engage: Social media, and especially Twitter, is all about connecting with other people. Engaging with your followers (e.g. the people you are following,) keeps you involved in the ongoing conversation around your campaign. Not only that, but it will help you expand your reach. Do Post Relevant Content: Did your organization just write a blog? Publish an op-ed in a local newspaper? Did your candidate get an endorsement? Twitter can be a great outlet to promote your organizations agenda, your campaigns goals, or your personal objectives. Do Schedule Tweets: Twitter is like NYC, it never sleeps. It’s fast, it’s instant, and if you blink, you might just miss an opportunity to tweet your message. That’s why a big twitter strategy “do” is to pre schedule or automate tweets. There are a ton of digital tools out there to help you organize your tweets and content, in fact you can check out some of TCW’s favorites on our 100 Political and Advocacy Tools list. Do Use Twitter Cards and Twitter Ads: Whether it be for advocacy or political candidates, advertising is a valuable resource for any campaign and a great addition to any Twitter strategy. Twitter can target an exact audience, and market your content or campaign to them. Twitter cards help you streamline that content to that targeted audience - making it easier for them to complete a call to action by just one click of a button. These call to actions could be a generic tweet available for users to tweet from their personal twitter accounts or lead them to the latest eBook your organization has published on your website.    Top Twitter Strategy Don’ts Don’t Overuse Your Hashtags: Hashtags are fun, they can help categorize your tweets and help expand the reach of your message. But sometimes too many hashtags can overcrowd your tweets. After all, you only get 140 characters. Studies have shown that tweets with more than two hashtags get less engagement.  Don’t Use Up All Your Characters with Long Links: You only get 140 characters, (although at the time this ebook was written, Twitter was beta testing 280 characters) use them wisely! is a great website to shorten links so you have more space to craft your message around the content in the link. Don’t Forget About Account Security: In today’s political environment, Twitter seems to be a social media platform where people tend to get into trouble. Being careful who has access to your twitter account, and securing it correctly to avoid hackers or accidental likes on inappropriate tweets ( I’m looking at you @tedcruz) should be a high priority when using Twitter. Don’t Publish Before Proofreading: Unlike other social media platforms, once you send a tweet out into the world, you can’t edit it without deleting it. If you grow your followers enough, or you are/become a high profile person or organization the chances of someone catching a misplaced typo or a badly phrased tweet increases. For example, no one would care if Donald Trump tweeted out “covfefe” if he was anyone but the President. However, now full conspiracies over its meaning exist. Bottom line, proof your tweets! Don’t Be Mean: Follow the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In other words, just because you are behind a computer or phone, don’t tweet things out to people you wouldn’t say to their face.  If you haven't already, check out our Digital Guides here! Thu, 14 Dec 2017 08:00:48 EST
7 Questions with Democratic Pollster Celinda Lake Elena Veatch Pollster Celinda Lake answers our 7 questions. Celinda Lake is a Democratic pollster and president of Lake Research Partners, is one of the top political pollsters and strategists of our time. Celinda Lake weighs in on what happened in 2016 and how Democrats can be thoughtful about polling and strategy in 2018 and beyond. 1. How do you explain the challenges around polling the 2016 presidential election? There were certainly swings at the end, and I think the turnout models were off. The biggest critique I have around 2016 polling (this serves as a self-critique as well) is that had you asked many pollsters on Election Day, they would’ve said Hillary Clinton was going to win albeit by a narrow margin. In many ways, we suffered more from groupthink than from errors in the polling itself. A lot of pollsters on both sides stopped polling the election too early. We thought we knew the outcome. The lesson is that if you really want to know what the numbers will be, you have to poll through Election Day. 2. There was a lot of discussion around the concept of the “hidden Trump voter” this past cycle. How can any Democratic pollster work to account for similar phenomena in the future? Pollsters are divided on this, but I’m a believer in the hidden Trump voter phenomenon. Two things jumped out during the cycle that can help us moving forward: Trump was performing better in online polls than in phone polls. A lot of people didn’t want to tell an interviewer that they were voting for Trump.   Firms take different approaches to the order in which questions appear in a survey. There's a balance to strike between getting people to say who they’ll support on the ballot upfront and not intimidate people by asking that question too soon in a survey. As a firm, we’ve found that the drop-off effect is worse than the intimidation effect, so we’ve moved the ballot question up earlier in the questionnaire. This way, we get that vote preference even if people decline to answer the rest of our survey questions. After every poll, we analyze the responses from those who terminated the survey early and report back to our clients on the partisan scores of these respondents (they’re usually more conservative). It’s also important to keep in mind the long-term trend of the Wilder/Bradley Effect, or the discrepancies between polling and election outcomes that result from the social desirability bias among survey respondents. People often don’t want to demonstrate racial or other biases when asked about their candidate preferences in a survey. Research has shown that white Democrats who thought they were talking to black interviewers in 2008 were more for Obama than were those who thought they were talking to white interviewers. Similar research has shown that women tend to be less pro-choice in surveys when they’re interviewed by other women – they feel as if they can express ambivalence about abortion to other women, but they don’t to do the same with a man who might think he then deserves a say over regulating women’s bodies. A combination of online and phone surveys can control for this phenomenon, though it can be expensive.   3. What can Democrats say to Trump supporters who had voted Democratic in the past to try to win them back in future elections? The Democratic brand is weak enough among Trump defectors that it will be hard to win them back. There are a couple of things we can do: Get labor union members back to the Democratic side. When a union tells its members that Trump has not followed through on his promises regarding prevailing wage and overtime, they’ll listen – members like and trust their unions.   The Republican tax bill is a real opportunity to turn one of Trump’s anchors of support against him. Instead of draining the swamp, he’s letting the swamp get kickbacks.   Trump’s style is starting to wear thin among women and millennials in particular. His constant Tweeting, a penchant for chaos, and lack of empathy turn people off, whether he’s responding to the disaster in Puerto Rico or escalating his bellicose approach to North Korea. We don’t necessarily have a way to take this on yet, but it’s important to recognize responses to this behavior. Our task in 2018 is not to beat Trump, though; it’s to defeat Republicans in Congress. In some cases, it will be better to go after those Republican members directly (taking advantage of their own weak brand) than to tie them to Trump. In looking to persuade Independent voters (rather than to mobilize Democrats), it can be more effective to accuse these Republican members of pushing an agenda on their own. Attacking Trump can muddy the issues, as there will always be Independents who still like Trump, but who might vote against their Republican member of Congress. Many wary voters are skeptical that anyone is like Trump, but they do respond negatively to anyone voting with him 95 percent of the time. 4. How much of a campaign’s energy and decision making should be focused on what polls are telling them? Polling is a very important piece of the puzzle, but it has to be integrated with the full range of information sources and tools at our disposal. Big data and polling should be integrated, and 2016 didn’t show the right mix in my opinion. We need more comprehensive feedback from the field. Field organizers should be brought into the rooms where campaigns make strategic decisions more frequently, as they’re the ones who are constantly in contact with voters. If field organizers say something is happening in the communities they’re working in, it’s worth listening. Another important piece is analyzing social media to catch the nuances of voters’ positions on issues. Qualitative research is important and was underutilized at the end of the campaign for Clinton. We used to do focus groups five nights a week until the end, where we could better pick up on the “yes, but…” answers. Most campaigns don’t do this anymore toward the end, which can be a big mistake if they aren’t paying attention to information sources other than tracking polls. 5. What do you see as the biggest barrier to entry for women looking to run for office? One important barrier is money. Women are raising the same amount of money as men, but they don’t have the same number of big donors as men. They tend to raise money in smaller increments, raise it later in the campaign, and suffer from greater psychological barriers around the ask than do men. When we surveyed women in state legislatures with aspirations for higher office, the number one thing they said was that they needed more donors from their personal networks. Members of female candidates’ kitchen cabinets tend to be composed of women with great community relations, but less money than is the case for most male candidates’ inner circle members. Another barrier for women is the balance they have to strike between likeability and qualification. Voters will support a man they don’t like if they think he’s qualified, but they won’t support a qualified woman who they don’t like. It’s a critical double standard we saw play out dramatically in 2016. Voters who disliked both Trump and Clinton voted in the double digits for Trump, even though they saw Clinton as more qualified.   6. What can Democrats do to win more in 2018 and beyond? Democrats need to recruit good candidates and raise money, which we’re doing. Things that we aren’t doing enough of: Forming a cohesive economic message. We still don’t have one – the Republicans are ahead of us on the economy. We’ve never won a presidential election when we haven’t been ahead on the economy, and we’re not going to start now. People support issues that Democrats tout, like equal pay and raising the minimum wage, but these policies don’t add up to a major economic plan to get the economy going for everyone.   Developing and funding better field organizations. We need to get into communities now to talk to voters about their concerns and priorities. We can’t show up in communities two weeks out from an election and expect to convince voters to turn out and be on our side. Working America has a great model for this that’s worth following – they have long, textured conversations with people early.   Stop debating persuasion vs. turnout. This is a dangerous debate Democrats have that Republicans don’t have. We have to persuade voters in order to get them to turn out; there can’t be one without the other.   Don’t confuse message and issue. People in our party tend to confuse message and issue. Issues, policies, acronyms, and program descriptions do not constitute a message. A message starts with values and emotion. People respond to aspirations, but right now, Democrats are much better at expressing the existence of problems than being aspirational. Trump was rated more optimistic than Clinton during the 2016 election, even if it appeared otherwise to Democrats. We have to be better about finding positive messages. Obama did this with his message of hope and change in 2008, and Bill Clinton also did in 1992 (“There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America”). People want to move forward in this country, and we have to give them the vision to move forward that they can get behind. Bonus Questions for Celinda Lake: 8. Have you read any interesting books lately that you think shed light on the American electorate? Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class (Ian Haney López) Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right (Arlie Russell Hochschild) “Durably Reducing Transphobia: A Field Experiment on Door-to-Door Canvassing” (David Broockman and Joshua Kalla)   Thank you to Democratic pollster Celinda Lake for answering our questions. Get in touch with Celinda Lake: visit, or reach out to Celinda Lake directly at   Mon, 11 Dec 2017 10:00:00 EST
Targeting for Twitter Lizzie Kendrick Digital Targeting for Your Advertising Campaign on Twitter We often talk about how one big advantage of digital advertising is the digital targeting available to the advertiser. The same is true on Twitter, if not more so. Twitter, along with other social media channels, has the benefit of users providing their own information, making the targeting easier. In addition, as users log on and engage on Twitter, their profiles are updated to reflect how they behave online. Twitter offers a wide range of digital targeting options, including: Language targeting Gender targeting Interest targeting. Here you can choose from a variety of categories so you are targeting people whose interests align with your campaign. Some options are:Automotive Beauty Careers Education Family/parenting Follower targeting. This allows you to reach users with similar interests to those who follow accounts you identify. You can use this with your opponents within a campaign or with followers of similar organizations to yours. Device targeting. Target by the carrier, wifi only, type of device and more. Behavior targeting. Reach audiences based on their consumer behavior, lifestyle and other key attributes. Tailored audience targeting. Here you can upload your own list to target a specific group of Twitter users. Keyword targeting. Serve ads to users based on keywords they have recently tweeted or searched for on Twitter. Geographic targeting. Serve ads to people within a specified location, even down to the zip code. When you are setting up your advertising campaign on Twitter, it’s important to keep in mind a few best practices. 1. Start with the basics. Make sure you select the geographic, language and device targeting that makes sense for your campaign. 2. Narrow your digital targeting type by campaign. Other than the basic targeting, focus on one type of targeting group – interests, followers, behavioral, tailored audiences – for each campaign. This will help you gain further insight into what messages work for your different audiences. 3. Test, test, test. As with all digital campaigns, it’s important to test as much as possible. Try different messages or different types of ads with your audience. Tweak the digital targeting a bit to get more granular. Making small adjustments can often result in huge gains for your campaign. Take advantage of the targeting available to you on Twitter. It is one of the most useful tools and can really get your message in front of the right audience.  Check out our Twitter Account for content ideas here! Thu, 07 Dec 2017 08:00:44 EST
Political Fundraising: 10 Steps to Prevent Campaign Fundraising Mistakes Joe Fuld Before you start your campaign fundraising, make sure you prevent potential fundraising mistakes:  Fundraising is hard, and even though it is the backbone of any political campaign it is not easy to do (for a detailed breakdown of what to think about before you run, read our ebook here). Even the best campaigns make fundraising mistakes. If you are going to run for office and need to raise money for your political campaign make sure you take steps to prevent campaign fundraising mistakes before you start.  1. Analyze your fundraising potential: How much do you need to raise for a winning race? Before you commit to running, build a list of everyone you know and conservatively estimate how much each person will give. Avoid campaign fundraising mistakes, and don't launch headlong into an expensive political campaign without estimating what it would cost. You would not buy a car without figuring out if you can afford the payments. The political campaigns we work on are more expensive than most cars. So make sure you can afford it before jumping in. A good rule is that if you can identify on paper at least 1/3 of the total amount you need to raise from friends and family, you have a good shot to raise the rest.  2. Build a good list: The list is the backbone of your campaign: make sure you have a rock-solid list of potential donors and volunteers. Do everything you can to put all of your contacts in one place. This takes time and focus. Doing this halfway is one of the campaign fundraising mistakes you can avoid. If you are running this year, or three years from now, take the time to build a good list.   3. Commit to call time: Call time can suck but it is a constant in politics. If you can't dedicate 4 to 6 hours per day to making the calls needed, then you are not likely to be successful.  4. Practice your ask:  Just because you put in the time, won't make you a good fundraiser (But it certainly helps).  5. Follow up:   If you suck at follow-up, running for office may not be for you. Your follow up needs to be flawless. You need to be organized because your staff cannot do it all for you.  6. Prepare your friends and family:  You are going to ask your friends and family to knock on doors, raise money, and give money, don't let this be a surprise. Let them know and get them bought in early.  7. Stay focused:  Running for office needs to be your sole focus. If you are writing a novel, finishing your MBA, having major surgery, or any number of other life events, think twice about running for office.  8. Resolicit: You will never get all the money from your donors in one shot. You need to be prepared to ask folks for more than one donation, by phone, by mail, online and in person. 9. Don't run if you have no shot for your race: if you are running for the first time make sure you have looked at all your options before you run for Congress. It is a lot easier to raise $200,000 than $400,000. No race is a sure thing, but there is more opportunity in some races than others. Remember 95 percent of incumbents win reelection, so before you decide to take one on, make sure you have your ducks in a row.  10. Understand the limitations of fundraising tactics: Online fundraising, house parties, events, direct mail and institutional fundraising all have a place in your campaign fundraising toolkit, but they will not take the place of calling your friends and family. Bonus Tips: 1. Don't search for an easy way out:   Have I said fundraising is hard? It is, and there is no way out of it. So don't go down the road of searching for the magic fundraising beans- spoiler: they don't exist. Just get used to hard focused work and you will get through it.  2. Know what a good fundraiser does and does not do:  A good fundraiser will organize your time, help you with your pitch, define your fundraising prospects. However, most fundraisers don't come with a magic list and they won't make the calls for you. One of those campaign fundraising mistakes to avoid: thinking a staff person will do the grunt work necessary to raise funds. They won't.  3. Get help:  Good staff and volunteers are a must for your campaign. Put time into hiring good people and even more time in showing appreciation for the work they do. It will go a long way.  Have questions about running for office and avoiding fundraising mistakes?  Drop us a note here:  Or Check out our ebooks here!     Mon, 04 Dec 2017 08:00:44 EST
Digital Campaign Tool Spotlight: 7 Questions with Mentionmapp Elena Veatch See who’s engaging with your content with this digital campaign tool  Mentionmapp is a digital campaign tool that allows you to map connections between Twitter users to visualize who’s saying what and who they’re saying it to. Mentionmapp can help you keep track of your brand and figure out who’s engaging with your content. We talked to co-founder and CEO John Gray about his digital campaign tool Mentionmapp, as well as larger trends such as the proliferation of Bots and misinformation. 1. What inspired you to create Mentionmapp? One of our partners had a proprietary network visualization application. What’s more, Twitter’s API was accessible, and in late 2009, we were curious to see how people were connected. At the core, it’s always been about being curious to see how a network of people are connected in conversation… simply, who’s talking with whom, and who’s talking about what. 2. Who can benefit from using Mentionmapp? Communications professionals with diverse needs can benefit, from public relations, marketing, and non-profit organizations to journalists and people in the OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) community. People are using Mentionmapp with an interest in aligning content or connecting their campaigns with the right audience, finding influencers, seeing events unfold in real time, verifying sources, and getting a dynamic picture of who is active in any conversation online in any given moment. 3. What considerations are important for folks to make in looking at who is engaging with their content on Twitter? Is our content resonating and who is it resonating with? Is engagement simply about accumulating vanity metrics (retweets, likes, followers), or is an engaged audience one that takes action? Is our content eliciting a reaction, generating different perspectives from people who are genuinely open to gaining new knowledge? Or, is our content a potential magnet for trolls who are adding no value to the discourse? Most importantly, when considering a reply, pause and verify who you’ll be talking with. Are they a real person? Are they actually connected to the topic? Research and then reply. Our digital campaign tool Mentionmapp operates by the mantra: “Never feed the trolls, and don’t talk to Bots.” This article from First Draft News highlights four case studies in verification for news, but has lessons for us all to consider. 4.  Your BotMapp digital campaign tool shows how Bots operate on Twitter. How common are Bots and what role do they play across the Internet? First, it’s important to qualify that not all Bots are bad. But, it’s deliberate deception that is cause for concern. We’re seeing Bot operators getting very good at creating fake profiles. Bot “personalities” are evolving. They’re more than the “gray-eggs” (profiles with no picture), those with multiple digits populating their Twitter names like @TanyaBr62551176, or the Cyborg Bots that are tweeting at inhuman rates (100 tweets and more per day are a significant red flag). Many profiles we’re finding easily pass the “at a glance eyeball test” in that they look very real. It’s a complex challenge to determine which Bots have a deceptive presence, and it’s why Mentionmapp is deliberately vague in sharing details about our process and have no plans to make BotMapp publically available – we don’t intend to help the Bot operators. We also don’t see technology on its own solving this issue. From our research, the problem is more pervasive than many people appreciate and the platforms themselves want to admit. This is not just a Twitter issue – it’s a cross-platform issue plaguing Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, YouTube, LinkedIn, and comment forums. We’re seeing the proliferation of an overall ecosystem of fake (fake profiles, fake news sites, fake organizations and businesses, fake charities), where the Bots play a key role in gaming the metrics that subsequently drive what populates our feeds. By influencing what the platform algorithms push into feeds, Bots are unquestionably an important weapon behind any misinformation campaign. Bots are also driving clicks for cash (ad fraud), propagating links laden with malware, and pushing phishing operations, all of which undoubtedly help fund Bot creators, network operators, and content creators. 5. What are some of the larger consequences of the proliferation of Twitter Bots? As social media is now the media (let’s drop the social part), the consequences of Bot activity are numerous. They are key drivers of computational propaganda. They are operating to manipulate public perception and opinion connected with any of today’s important socio-political issues.  Bots are effectively amplifying misinformation, dampening dissent, and driving people out of conversations, all of which isn’t new. We don’t have to look any further than Syria (2011), Turkey (2013), Mexico (2014), or Spain (2015) as examples of state actors or their proxies using Bots to impact sociopolitical conversations. Our digital campaign tool has documented Bots waging what are essentially DDoS attacks (overwhelming sites with traffic), such as a recent example with five ProPublica journalists and the Open Society as the targets. Imagine waking up one morning and finding you’ve attracted 12,000 new followers and that one of your tweets has earned the same number of retweets. This is exactly what happened to security expert Brian Krebs, who sees it as a deliberate intimidation tactic. In a more abstract sense, the overall social impact of misinformation is eroding people’s confidence in the veracity of facts and the value of reasoned debate. Trust in our public institutions (media, government, education) is being undermined, and Bots are contributing to the disturbing trend of making opinion mean more than knowledge and substituting dogma for truth. 6. The 2016 U.S. election showed the power of fake news in influencing campaigns and elections. How can political campaigns combat misinformation? Misinformation certainly isn’t a new problem in politics, but combining computational horsepower, massive amounts of data, and granular audience targeting, along with the volume and velocity by which information travels, is making it a more complex problem. I’m humbled that you ask, but it’s a question a lot of other smart people around the world are working to answer, and I’ll not pretend to have the answer myself. Part of the solution will emerge when people in politics quit living by what pollsters say, start crunching less data and begin listening to more real people. Real human engagement means seeing people as more than data points. There’s much more insight to be gained beyond counting likes, retweets, and upvotes. 7. How can we all work to be better consumers of news and other content on the web? Read more; diversify and broaden your perspective and what you’re reading (and watching and listening to); get beyond confirming your own bias. Share less while being more selective with what you’re sharing (are you adding to the noise?). Verify more and see how multiple sources report on any given event or issue. Ask, why this story is taking off? Does the source have a track record of stories generating hundreds or thousands of likes or retweets? If we choose to seek more genuine discourse (defined as a “verbal interchange of ideas”) and to sow fewer seeds divisiveness, there’s hope for a more meaningful human experience. “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.” ― Richard Feynman Thanks so much to John Gray of Mentionmapp for answering our 7 questions!   Thu, 30 Nov 2017 08:00:32 EST
Digital Tool Talk: 7 Questions with VoterCircle Elena Veatch VoterCircle: A Grassroots Digital Tool for Friend-to-Friend Campaign Outreach VoterCircle is a digital tool that elevates friend-to-friend outreach over traditional campaign-to-voter contact. VoterCircle can change the way any campaign does volunteer recruitment, grassroots fundraising, and GOTV. We talked with founder and CEO Sangeeth Peruri about leveraging personal networks and more. 1. How did the experience of running for office in 2014 inspire you to create VoterCircle? I ran on a shoestring budget of $4K. And then an outside PAC came in for the opposition and put over a $100K into the race against me.   We didn’t have the money for direct mail or advertising, so we began with the tried-and-true phone banking and door-to-door approach. We soon learned that most people don’t answer their phones and few like talking to a stranger at their door. So we decided to try something different by connecting friend-to-friend. And amazingly enough, it worked. The PAC spent over $11/vote, while we spent $0.40/vote. And I won. After the race, we started VoterCircle, a digital tool to enable others to do the same. We wanted to help level the playing field. Elections shouldn’t be just about money. They should be about people and ideas. Our goal is to help others do campaign outreach through expanded networks. 2. How exactly does this digital tool work? VoterCircle is a friend-to-friend outreach platform. It figures out in real time which of your supporters’ contacts are registered voters in a given district, and it lets you send a warm message friend-to-friend, as opposed to using the traditional campaign-to-voter outreach process. We take all of the data we generate and create a social graph that figures out who are the most highly connected super influencers in a given community. If you can locate enough super influencers, you will be hard to beat. 3. What are the benefits of friend-to-friend contact over more traditional campaign-to-voter contact? Naturally, people trust their friends more than someone they have never met. Because of that, we have seen extremely high levels of engagement with our digital tool. For example, we have seen 50-60% open rates and 10-20% survey response rates. When it comes to results at the polls, RCTs of friend-to-friend outreach have seen as much as 12-15% turnout bumps. 4. Can any size campaign use VoterCircle? Yes. VoterCircle works well for organizations, parties, and campaigns of all sizes. We have worked with tiny school board races with 1K voters, as well as statewide races with 20M voters.  5. What’s your favorite feature of the tool? What makes it stand out from other outreach platforms? The entire campaign industry is focused on cold campaign-to-voter outreach. VoterCircle is uniquely positioned to enable warm friend-to-friend outreach. The most exciting aspect of the tool is our ability to predict and identify the most connected voters in every community in order to help the candidates and organizations we work with reach out to those people and connect with them. 6. Campaigns are constantly balancing persuasion and mobilization efforts. Do you see VoterCircle mostly a tool for mobilizing like-minded friends, or is there potential for people to use the tool to have a dialogue with the friends or neighbors who disagree? VoterCircle works well for both persuasion and mobilization. If you want to change someone’s opinion, you need to first understand their point of view. It’s much easier to get to that point if you have a personal connection to them. VoterCircle is a great place to start that dialogue. 7. Looking to the future, what role do you hope to see VoterCircle playing in campaigns? What is your ultimate goal for this digital tool? Our goal is to make outreach more personal, effective and efficient. If we are successful, in the long run, our democracy can be more about people and ideas and less about money. One can only imagine how different our country would be if more candidates could win their races even when they are outspent 30:1, like I was. Bonus Question: What advice would you give to someone with an idea for a startup? Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons and that you are passionate about the idea. Starting a company takes an immense amount of work, and it typically takes a long time to develop. If you don’t like what you are doing, you will burn out before you have spent enough time on the company to become successful. Have questions about VoterCircle Check out our tools list here:  Mon, 27 Nov 2017 08:00:41 EST
Call Time for Campaign Fundraising: Why It's Important Joe Fuld Campaign Fundraising: Is it possible without call time? From time to time we get asked how to solve a campaign fundraising problem. For example, a common campaign problem I get asked about is:  "I have been told by my campaign team that I need to do call time 4 to 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. I don't have the time to do that isn't there another way?" The short answer is no, but here is the longer answer: Many other types of campaign fundraising can supplement a call time operation, but is it not a replacement.  Every year, folks try other tactics thinking they can find a silver bullet to replace the hard work of campaign call time. Let's walk through the campaign fundraising tactics: Email fundraising:  Email fundraising can be great but you will need to build a good list and keep growing it.  Digital Fundraising: Using digital ads on Facebook, through programmatic buying or petitions to raise your money, can help you build a list and engage new supporters. Buyers beware- it can be expensive. Direct Mail: Direct mail is an unsung hero of fundraising, especially for re-solicitation. Finance Committee: Finance committees can be great sometimes, but you cannot always rely on them. If you can get your finance committee members to reach out to their contacts for donations it can work well. But if getting a candidate to do call time is hard, getting others to do it is even harder. Small Events/ House Parties: A  well-run house party program can help build engagement and get some money in the campaign. A poorly run house party program can take a ton of time for very little yield.  So if you want to do this, you will need a dedicated staff and a candidate who will call folks to lock in commitments for house parties. Which means yes, you will still need to do call time around it. Medium Sized Events: For example, getting a big union hall and have a dinner, hire a boat and sail around the Harbor, get a suite for a ball game is a good medium-sized event. I have done all of these events and with ticket money, you'll be able to pay the expenses and keep the leftovers, but again, if you want a successful medium sized event fundraiser, you'll have to do call time to invite people anyway. Big Events: For example, getting a big celebrity like Cher to raise money for your campaign. Regardless of what well-known public figure you get to help you raise money, you will still need to call people to get them to wire a check, or pull strings. So you will still need to do call time. Oh, and by the way, getting a celebrity to donate their time no matter how into your cause they are, will still cost time and money. Hiring a Professional Fundraiser: A good professional fundraiser will make all of your call time more effective. They will sometimes work with your finance committee to help them make calls and get more prospects for your campaign. But they won't make the calls for you or show up with a magic list of new donors. If you do all of these fundraising tactics, can this replace call time?  The short answer is no. No regular campaign can do all of these campaign fundraising events and raise enough money, without call-time. And from a time perspective,  you need to manage that resource. Call time is efficient these other tactics are not. Bottom line:   Call time is the backbone to successful campaigns. Candidates want to avoid it, but if they want to whine, they can't. These campaign fundraising tactics are great and you can do one or two to supplement call time, but the majority of your money will come from calling friends and family. So start calling and learn to love call time. Thu, 23 Nov 2017 08:00:13 EST
Engaging with Social Media Influentials Joe Fuld Engaging with Social Media Influentials When it comes to social media, some folks are really active, some aren't. Some have a following and some don't. But if you want to use social media to advance your organization or campaign's goals, connecting with your key influencers is a great way to grow your following, and expand the reach of your message. Here are our tips to connect with social media influentials and other social media leaders: Social listening tools:  One question folks ask is how do I Identify who is an online influential? Social listening tools like mention map, meltwater, attentively, and Klout make it easy to find out which folks are connected digitally. Read what they write about:  Communicating with someone who already is connected to you on social media is not hard. Try to be thoughtful and make sure you know a bit about them. Complimenting them will always go a long way, but sharing your thoughts and reflections on an article they've written, projects they are working on or promoting something that advances the objectives of your organization or campaign's objectives is a great way to connect with social media influentials.  Craft an ask: When you get to the point that you have developed a relationship with a social media influencer, ask them for something. Some social media platforms are created to avoid this middleman- for example, if your organization is for or against a piece of legislation- tweeting your legislator straight away to vote for or against said bill is a good way to craft an ask. Usually, lawmaker's offices keep a running tally of constituents who are for or against a bill, especially when it is a bill with a lot of controversies.  Treat them like reporters: Being helpful to them can help build a real offline connection with you and expand your list. Speaking of reporters, being a resource for reporters is also a good way to connect and build more credibility with social media influentials. Interview Social Media influentials:   A great way to build trust and connection with influentials is to interview them. Our best posts on the site are audio, video and written interviews with influentials. Find a mutual cause:  Advocacy and fundraising is a great strategy to connect and engage with social media influentials and to build trust. Making a connection around something that is bigger than you is a great way to build a lasting relationship. The bottom line is Influencers equals more influencers. Focus on influencers in a specific channel and knock on their virtual door one at a time. Have questions on building realtionships with twitter influentials and other social media influentials? Ask them here: If you haven't already, check out our ebooks page for  The Complete Guide to Twitter for Political and Advocacy Campaigns.  Mon, 20 Nov 2017 08:00:00 EST
Use These Winning Field Strategies for Campaign Success Joe Fuld How to Get Results From Field Strategies Field strategies don’t always get the yield you were hoping for, especially if you don’t have the right planning behind them. Here are our tips for getting the most out of your field strategies for your political campaign.  Plan first:  Having a real campaign plan matters. Whether you are running an advocacy, accountability, or political campaign - a real plan will make sure your field strategies have the yield you want.  Have a budget: Building a campaign plan for spending is not just written overnight, it comes out of good strategy, planning, and numbers. Make sure you are spending money on the right tactics and following the right strategy to get you the results you need.   Know your numbers: Vote goals, swing votes on a legislative committee for advocacy campaigns, percentage needed to avoid a runoff, these numbers all mater. Knowing where the votes will come from and reaching your goal is both an art and science. The right field strategies - door knocking, digital ads, phone calls, petition sign-ups - can help you get there. Use data wisely:  Data can help make your campaign a success, but data alone without on the ground knowledge can be a losing field strategy. If a universe is too narrow it can mean your canvassers walk past too many houses. If your universe is too wide, you may talk to folks who will have no impact for your campaign.  Hire the right team:  Good field strategies are all based on a team of people who can build toward your goals. Making sure you hire the right folks and are holding them accountable for their work is a critical part of winning. Measure results:  Having real goals for metrics on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, can really inform you whether you are reaching the campaign's goals. Sometimes campaigners don’t want to know their results, but that is huge mistake.  Have questions if your field strategies are working for you? Ask them here: If you haven't already, check out our eBooks for more tips and tactics here! Thu, 16 Nov 2017 08:00:20 EST
What To Do About Internet Trolls Joe Fuld Tips for Dealing With Internet Trolls We've all have had our run-ins with internet trolls on a variety of different platforms. Here are our tips on how to deal with internet trolls: Are they really a troll?  Evaluate if someone is or is not an internet troll. If they are, you will usually know pretty quickly. However, just because someone does not support your issue or disagrees with you does not make them a troll. When people ask thoughtful questions even though I might disagree with them, I try and engage when I can, to have a constructive conversation.  If I get a bad feeling and feel threatened or taken advantage of I don't hesitate to block and report the interaction. Better safe than sorry. This is not something to mess around with. Back in 2009, I had an anti-LGBTQ troll target me and I used it as an opportunity to raise money for the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund. Today, I would probably just write a check, block and report the person. Why the change? 2009 Seems like a lifetime ago on the internet and folks have gotten a lot more aggressive online over the past few years. Do quick research on the troll. In the case of my troll there was a whole mini community around her that was organized and helpful. Chances are if they are really a troll you are not the first person they have harassed. Remember don't poke the troll without knowing who you are dealing with.  Some trolls are harmless, some are not. If you feel unsafe after you have blocked and reported a troll - call the police. In some places like the U.K. laws have been passed to prevent trolls from bullying online. In the US cyberbullying law, as well as existing laws, have been used in both civil and criminal court. Bottomline: Dealing with unstable folks is just risky business and not worth it. So be careful out there. Block and report should be your first steps if you feel at all threatened. Have questions about dealing with trolls or want to share a story? Drop us a note. If you haven't already, check out our Complete Guide to Digital Advocacy in Trump's America   Mon, 13 Nov 2017 08:00:07 EST
7 Questions with Nancy Leeds Joe Fuld 7 Questions with Nancy Leeds Nancy Leeds is the one woman operation behind CampaignSick, a popular political blog and Tumblr account. She is a Democratic campaign manager, having worked on everything from local campaigns to being the Political Director of Clean Water Action. Nancy has an MPA in Social Policy and Management from Columbia University. 1. You started CampaignSick seven years ago. What was your vision for the blog when you first started it? Honestly? I didn't really have one. I never imagined it would become so big (but of course I am thrilled about that)! I just wanted a place to stay connected to campaigns while I was in grad school and maybe produce some writing samples. Campaign people often have to sublimate our own feelings because we are representing a candidate. Because I was in grad school rather than working for a candidate, I was in a position to provide a space for community venting and a place to share our frustrations, experiences, and desires. That's what the blog turned into and why I believe it took off. 2. Did the election of Trump have any impact on the content or tone of CampaignSick? Yes. I'd tried to keep the blog and the Tumblr campaign rather than government focused up to that point. But the insanity coming from the White House is at the forefront of everyone's mind so it would feel inauthentic not to talk about it. Also a lot of us in campaign world and many people who hadn't been involved before wanted to find a way to fight back between elections so I've been trying to feature those resources as well. 3. What advice do you have for young people who want to find work on campaigns? Don't be afraid to reach out to campaign people you know and ask for their help. Entry level jobs abound and it's in everyone's best interest to help you find one. One of the things I love about the campaign community is that it's very supportive in that way. I'd also caution you about pigeonholing yourself in your campaign career too early. It's a good idea to get experience on campaigns of different sizes in different regions of the country and in different departments while you're just starting out. Having basic experience in comms, or field or finance will serve you well later even if it's not where you want to wind up. 4. Campaign work is notorious for being stressful and time-consuming. Is there anything that helps you stay organized and calm in the heat of a campaign? That's a great question and one I'm constantly working on. I noticed a couple years ago that a lot of the women I look up to on campaigns are runners and it seems to help keep them balanced so I'm committed to carving out time to stay in shape on my next campaign. In terms of staying organized, putting systems in place early for keeping a to-do list, managing the candidate's schedule and checking in with staff will help you later on when you're feeling overwhelmed because you can put more things on autopilot. 5. What is your favorite role to play in a campaign and why? Hmmm, that's a great question. My background is in field and that's where my passion lies. But I love being a manager for the same reason I loved doing field: I like empowering people with the tools they need to make the change they want to see whether it be candidates, staff or volunteers. 6. Going into the 2018 midterms, what do you see as the most critical thing for Democratic operatives to get right? We can't take our voters for granted. It is not enough to register new voters assuming people will vote against Trump. We have to give independents something to vote FOR and we have to make the connection between our policies and their lives in a compelling way. Likewise, we cannot throw our base to curb in search of a demographic that does not share our values. Not only is it wrong morally, it's the wrong strategy. Women and people of color might not vote for the other guys but they might not vote at all. 7. You recently earned a Master’s degree. Do you feel that certain degrees are helpful to be successful in your field of work? Hahahaha I'll let you know when I stop laughing. No, you definitely do not need a master's degree to do my job. The single best way to advance a career in campaigns is to spend more time in the field. Grad school worked out great for me because it helped me learn about intersectionality and gave me space to start my blog but I wouldn't recommend it as a career move. Some hard skills I wish I had gotten in undergrad that would have helped me in campaigns are things like web design, data analysis and Spanish but those are all things you can learn on your own outside of school and won't necessarily help get you a campaign job on their own. Thu, 09 Nov 2017 08:00:39 EST
Build Up Your Resistance Political Tactics with the Resist Book List (Part 1) LaTwyla Mathias Why One of the Strongest Political Tactics is to Read the Resist Book List Sometimes, books are the best place to get inspired and learn political tactics. It has been officially one year since Donald J. Trump was elected President of the United States. Even typing that sentence was extremely difficult. If you are anything like us here at The Campaign Workshop, you are still reeling from the effects of November 2016. There is only one way to help us heal from America’s worst-case scenario. Don’t get mad, get organized! To that end, we have put together an ongoing series called the Resist Tool Kit. This kit provides dozens of ways to take self-care and to fight the hand of the federal government at the same time. The first installment will feature part one of the Resist Book List. Below is a list of book recommendations that we hope will inspire you to join the resistance:  1.1984 by George Orwell On January 20, 2017, most of us woke up into a nightmare of epic proportions. The day that we thought would never come descended upon us. Every day since we have watched in horror as our President continues to be an international embarrassment. It truly makes you wonder how long it will take for members of the Republican Party to break ties with his shady political tactics and put the good of the country above the good of the party. The chilling contrast between this dystopian novel and the reality we are living is not hard to miss.  2.The Playbook for Progressives: 16 Qualities of the Successful Organizer by Eric Mann As we mentioned before, now is the time to get organized. Unlike our fellow Americans to the right, here on the left, everyone is encouraged to stand up for what they believe in. Looking back at the successful protests of 2017, they all have a common theme of organization and clear political tactics. In fact, this presidency inspired everyone to rally together, which is we have chosen this book by Eric Mann. Mann discusses the importance of capturing the momentum fueld by the 2016 Presidential election, as this energy will be useful for the 2018 midterm elections. 3.Genderqueer: Voices Beyond the Sexual Binary by Joan Nestle It is vital that we don’t allow those in power to silence all of the progress that we have made thus far. It is up to us to celebrate the voices of all of our citizens. The great thing about revolution is that it allows us to break down even more barriers and shape the world into a better place. Genderqueer, explores life beyond the social constructs of society and gives a glimpse of life without constraints. It celebrates voices that are not normally heard in mainstream America. 4.Between the World and Me by Ta Nahisi Coates America is beautiful because of the diverse mosaic of Americans that make up our country. Although we all walk different paths and have varied experiences, we are all Americans at the end of the day. Coates’s novel explains his cultural background, life navigating society’s political tactics as an African American, and his experiences. It is raw, emotional, and a fantastic read. 5.The Resistance Handbook: 45 Ways to Fight Trump by Markos Moulitsas Let’s face it; we are stuck with Trump for the next four years. Now is not the time to sit back and take it. This book lays out political tactics large and small to resist 45. Resist his ignorance, resist his fear-mongering, resist his bigotry. The book includes everything from changing social behaviors to donating to champions of the resistance. There is a role for each and every one of us to make this country live up to its potential. 6.Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest by Zeynep Tufekci Unlike the culture of fear that swept the country in the McCarthy era, we now have the gift and the curse of social media. The resistance cannot survive without mobilization. Social media affords us the opportunity to gather up supporters and spread the message quickly. This book talks about how protests have changed in the modern world and how social media has spread the movement to new participants. 7.Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution by Andrew Boyd and David Oswald Mitchell One of the beautiful things about activism is hearing testimonials from other activists. If that inspires you to get up and resist, then this is the book for you!  Consider this book as a gift and guidebook from one generation to another. 8.Advocacy by John Daly For those who slept through the last election and Trump’s vicious rhetoric jolted them awake, now would be a good time to become an advocate. This book breaks down the building blocks of messaging in order to have effective political tactics with thought leaders. Since every progressive ideal is in danger of being snuffed out, creative and effective messaging is critically vital now more than ever. 9.An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen For all the fiction novel lovers, this novel is for you. This novel was written many years ago, but still, has lessons that many need to hear. It poses an educated doctor against an entire town, in a tale of truth versus ignorance. Sound familiar.  10. The One-Hour Activist: The 15 Most Powerful Actions You Can Take to Fight for the Issues and Candidates You Care About by Christopher Kush In today’s world, our legislators are more accessible to their constituents. Talking to legislators can be a daunting experience. However, we owe it to ourselves and future generations to let our voices be heard with creative political tactics. This book makes activism easy with hourly actions. Imagine the influence you could have if you did an hour every day!   Stay tuned for more tools in the Resist Tool Kit, including more books. Reading is fundamental to the movement of resistance. Please join us!  If you haven't already, check out our e-book: The Complete Guide to Advocacy in Trump's America     Mon, 06 Nov 2017 08:00:00 EST
Digital Advocacy Campaign Goals on Twitter Shelley Rees What is the Best Goal for My Twitter Digital Advocacy Campaign? When it comes to a digital advocacy campaign Twitter is a great platform. Unlike more traditional platforms, there aren’t budget minimums you need to worry about and you can reach a lot of people very quickly. There are also a lot of great targeting options based on Twitter’s user data. The first thing you should decide when you create a Twitter ad campaign is what objective you want to use. There are several options, so it’s important to consider them carefully, based on your end goals. Below, we’ll run through each objective and how you could use it in your digital advocacy campaign. Website Clicks or Conversions A website clicks/conversions campaign objective sets your ad up to reach Twitter users who visit your website and take actions there. You could use this objective to promote content on your website and get more page views. For a digital advocacy campaign, using the conversions option in this objective would be a great way to build your email list of people to contact for more actions later or get donations. For the conversion optimization to work, you’ll need to place a pixel (provided by Twitter) on a page that indicates someone completed the desired action on your site. For example, if you are looking for people to sign up for your list, you would want to place the pixel on a “Thank You” page that someone would be redirected to after they have filled out their information. The pixel allows Twitter to target your ads towards people who are like those who have already completed the action. Followers A campaign focused on raising your follower count isn’t necessarily the best objective for a digital advocacy campaign, but it is helpful if you’re just starting out your account and want to build up your base. Awareness A Twitter campaign with the objective of awareness is a great option for a digital advocacy campaign. It works by promoting your tweets to get as much reach as possible and raise awareness around your message. It’s useful if the most important goal for your campaign is to spread your message and other metrics like clicks or retweets aren’t as important to you. You might also use this to promote your message when you don’t have a website set up for actions people can take.       Tweet Engagements This type of campaign is focused on increasing engagement with your ads to start a conversation with your target audience. If you want people to take actions on your behalf but you’re not looking for something that might already exist on your website, like petition sign-ups, this would be a good option for you. This campaign objective is also a great place to use creatives called “Conversation Cards”, which allow you to write a message you want your audience to tweet. With one click, people in your audience can send a tweet you’ve already written. If you wanted people to engage with legislators on your behalf, you could write a tweet aimed at those lawmakers and put it in your website card so other people can tweet at them for you. Promoted Video Views Digital video is increasingly known for its power to persuade. Where static images and tweets can amplify your message, video gives you the opportunity to change hearts and minds. This campaign objective promotes your video, which will auto-play on scroll and will optimize toward showing the video to people who are more likely to watch it. App Installs or Re-Engagements This objective gears your campaign toward an audience that is more likely to install or engage with an app you created. While this won’t help expand your message as much as the other objectives, if you happen to have an app that you want more people to download, it’s a great way to get it to more people. Twitter gives you a lot of options that would be great for a digital advocacy campaign. Now that you have a better sense of how you could use them, start trying things out. Also, remember that you don’t have to use only one objective. If you have multiple goals, you can run multiple campaigns. If you haven't check it out yet, we just released our Complete Guide to Advocacy in Trump's America, check it out here.    Thu, 02 Nov 2017 08:00:01 EDT
Trump Weight: How The White House Is Expanding My Waistline Joe Fuld How to Lose Your Trump Weight Donald Trump has created a lot of turmoil in this country, especially when it comes to my waistline. Call it my Trump body or Trump weight, but since the election, I have gained ten pounds and it sucks. Trump depression, as I have written about in the past, is a real thing. The Trump win has exacerbated bad habits, including stress drinking and eating. Yes, I blame my expanding waistline on Trump, but I know both Republicans and Democrats who have become increasingly stressed this year. To me, food became a crutch, but I am doing something about it. I read the book Why We Get Fat cover to cover and have started exercising every day. Good news! I am losing my Trump weight. So I have cut out bread, rice, pasta, and fried foods. But for me, dessert is my biggest weakness — a friend once said I was dessert's bitch. So my goal is to give up dessert in the name of Trump. I have also decided to rename the things I want to cut out of my diet as parts of the Trump administration. Flour = Price Potatoes = Kushner Rice = Ivanka Sugar = Bannon Dessert = Trump.  You get the picture. I am working hard to use Trump as a factor to remove the Kushner, Ivanka, and Bannon from my diet. So far I have lost 5 lbs. Like the Trump administration, I lost my Scaramucci quickly. Losing that last 5 lbs. has been harder but I am determined to lose it, one day and pound at a time. There are cheat days when things get bad and Trump announces something crazy, usually on Friday night. I just try to hang on and not eat a whole pint of ice cream or a whole sheet cake. How do I take control? Holding myself accountable and watching a little less MSNBC have helped, but it will be a long 4 years and we all just need to stick with it and make sure to take care of ourselves. Do you have a story on how you are fighting your Trump weight? Drop us a note. Tue, 31 Oct 2017 08:00:29 EDT
How to Beat an Incumbent Joe Fuld Want to Beat an Incumbent? Answer These Questions First. Campaigns start out with great intentions, but if you want to beat an incumbent, 94 percent of the time, opposing candidates will fall short. Many folks try, but on average, only 6 percent succeed in their quest to beat an incumbent. Why do incumbents lose? Asking this question is a good place to start for challengers looking for a path forward. Most incumbents who lose have endured a scandal, neglected their office, reneged on a promise, showed arrogance, ignored constituent requests for help, been outspent or out-organized by an opponent, or faced a demographic or numerical shift that made the turf favorable for a challenge. Capitalizing on these factors can put you in a position to beat an incumbent, but there is no guarantee for any candidate. Why challengers win and incumbents lose is but an art and a science. I have seen this on all sides after working on campaigns for challengers who have ousted incumbents, incumbents who have defeated challengers, and challengers who have lost to incumbents. So before you try to beat an incumbent, ask these questions:   Are they unresponsive? Do you have something the community wants? Do they have a scandal? Are they arrogant? Have they gone back on a promise? Is there a lack of community support for the incumbent? Is the community organized against them? Will people publicly stand up against them? Can you outspend them? Are the numbers in your favor? Have numbers changed over time? Will you be able to make a real contrast? Do you know your numbers? Do you have the right team? Do you have a clear vision for the office?   Let’s go through your answers. About Them Are they unresponsive? An elected official ignoring their core constituents can determine how vulnerable they are. Job performance is a core factor that pollsters look at to determine whether you can beat in incumbent, but this should not be the sole variable you look at to judge if your campaign will be a success. Do you have something the community wants? As a candidate, you must have the skills and profile that make for a good elected official. Have you shown real leadership in business and the community? Do people like you? A strong profile can set you up to win when you run for office, but this is all part of a package – being the best qualified (or even being well-liked) does not guarantee a victory. Do they have a scandal? If your opponent has a scandal, this alone could kill a re-election campaign, but not always. Usually, it takes having more than one factor in your favor to beat an incumbent. If they are good at their job but have had a scandal, it is not a given that they will lose. Are they arrogant? Arrogance can turn off voters in a hurry. We have seen seemingly small statements be the deciding factor in a re-election campaign. We have also seen voters ignore a series of bumbles and re-elect a seemly vulnerable candidate. Arrogance compounded with other factors can help voters look for an alternative. Have they gone back on a promise? Taking a stance and then going back on their word can turn voters out and against an elected official. This can be a game changer, but it is always good to look at the full picture. Is there a lack of support for the incumbent? Over time, has support for the incumbent eroded? Dips in support could be due to other factors on this list – you would need polling and on the ground intelligence to determine if this is a longer-term trend. Is the community organized against them? Are there people who are fired up to work against the opponent? Will they go out and knock on doors, raise money? To find out if this is true, look online for signs of organizing. See what has happened at community meetings and ask folks to assess involvement before you run. Knowing if you have real ground support is important. Are there people who like you enough and/or dislike your opponent enough to spend real time organizing for you?   About You Can they be outspent? This is a big sticking point. Challengers who win have historically outspent the incumbents they faced – this is a rare feat in the world of politics. So, do you have a real network of friends and family who will write you checks? Can you take time off from work? Will you dedicate yourself to dialing for dollars? Incumbents who have raised no money are generally vulnerable, but ones who have raised a lot do it to show their strength early on. Are the numbers in your favor? If you are running in a partisan or nonpartisan race, numbers such as likely turnout and who is engaging in politics vs. the total population of an area can have a huge impact on your race. Has there been a demographic or electoral shift?  Have the numbers in the area changed since the last real election the incumbent had? These factors can make a big difference in a race. Understanding democratic performance and how the average Democrat performs in the district will give you a quick snapshot on how compatible the district is for your candidacy. Do you know your numbers? Having a vote goal and a real plan for how you will identify, engage, and turn voters into supporters are critical ingredients for a winning campaign. Will you be able to make a real contrast? This is both a resource question and an approach question. Running for office is not for the faint of heart. If you won't have the resources or the fortitude to show the real differences between you and your opponent, it will be hard for you to beat an incumbent. Remember, you are asking folks to fire their elected official – you need to give them a reason to do so. Have you built the right team? Campaign operatives and political consultants cost money, but depending on the size of and budget for your race, a campaign of almost any size can find the help they need. Finding a diversity of viewpoints for your team is a critical step in building a winning campaign. As you build your team, ask yourself – are folks going to be with you for the long haul? Are they providing different and helpful perspectives? Is your team able to create an actionable plan to win? Can you afford this team? Do you have a clear vision for the office? It is not enough to say bad things about your opponent – you need to be able to articulate a real vision for the future and tell voters what you want to do. This is not really something a consultant can do for you. You need to know why you are running for office.   Before you try to beat an incumbent, make sure you can answer yes to the questions on the list. If you are already running, use this list to hold yourself accountable, and make sure you have clear metrics for success to consult throughout your campaign. Have questions on how to beat an incumbent? Ask them here: If you haven't already, check out our ebook: GOTV: Tools for Building a Winning Program Mon, 30 Oct 2017 08:00:45 EDT
7 Questions with Pollster Anna Greenberg on Campaign Strategy Elena Veatch TCW Talks Campaign Strategy With Pollster Anna Greenberg Anna Greenberg is no stranger to campaign strategy. She is a Democratic pollster with over fifteen years of experience in the field. She’s worked on everything from research for NGOs to polling for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign, which won her “Pollster of the Year” in 2014. We asked Anna Greenberg about her work, and what every campaign should know about polling. 1. When it comes to designing a poll or putting resources into other research, what is the number one question you wish campaigns would consider? Campaigns should be thoughtful about their candidate’s story, moving away from thinking about polling just as a means to figure out what voters think about their candidate’s accomplishments. A candidate’s personal narrative (and their ability to harness that narrative to connect with people) is important as their resume. It’s also important for campaigns to know the good things their candidate has done in the past. Campaigns tend to focus on the negatives when they conduct research on their candidate internally – in crafting a campaign strategy, most don’t devote enough resources to making sure they can articulate the positives in an effective way. 2. What is the most useful way for campaigns to think about their polling numbers? Campaigns should remember that every poll is a snapshot in time, not a prediction of the future. All the advice for campaign strategy that comes out of polling is based on hypotheticals, such as how much money each side will raise or how your opponent will react to a particular message. Campaigns matter – a poll can’t control for unexpected things that happen over the course of any race. It’s important to remember that while a poll is important for informing your campaign strategy, you shouldn’t let it become your holy grail. When circumstances don’t unfold the way a poll says they will, there’s a tendency to say the polling is wrong; in reality, the poll was always a hypothetical document designed to help design your campaign strategy, not a concrete prediction of what the outcome of the campaign would be. 3. You’ve done polling for campaigns, non-profits, and for academia. How do you approach these sectors differently? The timing and the pace differ for each. For advocacy and academic work, the timeline fluctuates more, and I might work on those kind of projects for an entire year. With political campaigns, there’s a much quicker pace around writing and fielding surveys and then processing the data. What’s more, polling is usually viewed more as a tool, a means to an end, in the campaign world. On big-think projects, the process is more thoughtful – designing the survey can be as important as the outcome, and there’s more sensitivity around pre-testing surveys to ensure you’re measuring what you set out to measure. 4. You’ve taken an interest in the impact of social media on public opinion. Should campaigns do the same? In the political world, we focus a lot on quantitative surveys. In reality, there are other lenses through which we can observe public opinion, and social media is important in that overall landscape. At the same time, with our siloed Facebook newsfeeds, we have to consider if social media represents public opinion or the echo chamber we live in. It’s also crucial to acknowledge the increasingly important challenge for campaigns to distinguish between the bot-generated fake news (such as content on what Obama was doing during Hurricane Katrina) and the real, organic conversations that occur on social media every day. It’s not a simple topic, but we on the left have to consider the overall landscape and respond to it better than we have been. 5. Speculative polls are already coming out for 2018 and 2020 races. When should people start taking them seriously? There are lots of attitudes we can measure now that will matter for future campaigns. Surveys that are already being conducted are especially relevant to determining the relative weakness of incumbents. We shouldn’t view these early polls as predictors of whether or not there will be a Democratic wave in 2018 or 2020, but we can consider them alongside presidential approval ratings, economic indicators, and other fundamentals to determine what the electoral landscape might look like. We can work to figure out the factors influencing public opinion toward Trump and members of Congress to shape our messaging to exploit the weaknesses of incumbents. 6. Due to the speed of the news cycle these days, how do you judge which issues will be salient among the public today versus those that will matter six months from now when people actually go to vote? You always have to keep in mind the bread and butter issues, the fundamentals that matter in any campaign. People still feel stressed financially since the economic crash. Events like the Charlottesville violence and Hurricane Harvey’s destruction dominate the news cycle for weeks and sometimes months, but at the end of the day, it’s personal experiences that shape voting decisions. Health care, education, transportation, and housing costs are the kind of issues that will always be front and center for people. 7. Any book recommendations that you think are relevant to the time we’re living in? I mostly like to read noir mystery or dystopian novels – I’m a big fan of authors like Jo Nesbø, Philip Kerr, and Justin Cronin. I’ve also been reading Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind, which is an important one for the left. As liberals, we often want to explain to our opponents why their worldview is wrong. This book is a good reminder that most people’s thoughts on government and politics are more about gut and emotional reaction than rational processing. By understanding the moral foundations that people draw upon to interpret any issue or news story, we can better communicate with them. Bonus: What do you do to relax in the chaotic Trump era? It’s helpful to not talk about politics when I’m not at work – I spend time with my kids, I read a lot. If I read nonfiction, I’ll choose a biography. Thank you to Anna Greenberg for answering our questions. You can reach Anna Greenberg here and listen to her podcast here. Check out more 7 question interviews here! Thu, 26 Oct 2017 08:00:12 EDT
Habits Can Make or Break Your Grassroots Organization Elena Veatch Routines in Your Grassroots Organization Can Lead to Success or Disaster. A good habit can be the ingredient for success in running your personal life and your grassroots organization. Recurring triggers in our day-to-day lives evoke responses that turn into habits over time. We carry out these routines without thinking, our brains craving the reward we associate with the response we’ve cultivated. Some of us habitually respond to stress by going for a walk or a run, while others opt for a pastry to cope with that same cue. Habits affect everything we do, and luckily, we can change them if we work at it. Habits, in turn, can shape the way your grassroots organization functions. If your organization is far from the well-oiled machine you want it to be, prioritize one good habit to focus on introducing to make your operation more efficient. Make sure everyone in your organization is aware of and has bought into this “keystone habit,” and hold people equally accountable for making it a part of the work culture. A “keystone habit” becomes the common lens through which every member of your team makes decisions – it could be something like open communication. Once your team is consciously considering this commitment in carrying out their work, it becomes easier to adopt other good habits across the board to tackle organizational obstacles. In other words, by changing just one aspect of your grassroots organization, you are paving the way for success in the long run.   For more on “keystone habits” and how they can make any company or organization, check out Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit. Have any questions on Grassroots, Advocacy Campaigns, or General Questions about running a campaign? Ask them here: If you haven't already, check out our ebook; The Complete Guide to Advocacy in Trump's America Mon, 23 Oct 2017 08:00:32 EDT
Set Up Your Twitter Fast! LaTwyla Mathias Twitter Account Set Up for Dummies If you have never set up a Twitter account, consider this to be your crash course! Twitter is becoming increasingly important to both political and advocacy campaigns, but with its ever evolving features and unique vocabulary specifically for the Twitter Platform, it can be hard for some to jump on the bandwagon. Here is a simple guide to a fast twitter account set up: First, you will need to have a valid email address. Twitter uses email accounts to verify your account, but also as a fail-safe in case you forget your password. Second, head to and sign up for a new account by filling in your name, email, desired username and desired password. Twitter has a built in system to make sure that your username is unique to you so your followers will know who you are.  Twitter also has “verified” users who have taken an extra step in identifying themselves.  Their profiles stand out by a blue check mark next to their username. Third, complete your profile by adding a picture and description. Then start following other users.  Last but not least,  it is time to send your first tweet! Check out like minded public figure twitter accounts for inspiration. Keep in mind this is a fast crash course, but we'll be releasing our Twitter for Political and Advocacy Campaign's ebook soon. We'll have a deep dive into the different uses, every day changing features, and creative ideas to use twitter as part of a strategy for a winning political or advocacy campaign.  In the meantime, if you want to learn more about the basics of Twitter, we really recommend an amazing resource is the Twitter 101 module on Twitter Flight School    If you haven't already, check out our ebook:  Complete Guide to Digital Advocacy in Trump's America   Thu, 19 Oct 2017 08:00:59 EDT
How Can I Build My List For Fundraising? Joe Fuld List Building for Campaign Fundraising: Start With Friends and Family. List building is an art and a science. When you start a campaign your friends and family are pumped up, you have some committed volunteers, and maybe you even have an official campaign Facebook page.  One key question remains, can you raise the money?  This is where list building comes in. List building Before you run Many candidates make the mistake of running before list building and assessing how much money they will need to raise from friends and family. Sometimes they stop prospecting before looking in all the places of their life for potential fundraising prospects. So, before you say, “I can't build my list”, here are the places you may have overlooked in forming your list of fundraising prospects. Family and Friends of Family: Call mom, call dad, call grandma and Aunt Sue. Fill your campaign coffers with these initial checks. They all have lists, go through those and look for prospects.  This should include cousins, in laws, former family members (that you may be close to), and adopted family members.  If you have a friendly ex, ask them for a check!   Find your Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and Instagram followers:  Know and work your connections. Facebook friends are a great place to look for fundraising help.  Try and remember what connects you to them in order to customize the ask.  Dig into LinkedIn: LinkedIn in is a great way to get email addresses and a great way to connect with folks in your professional circles. Former coworkers, professional contacts, past jobs, bosses, coworkers, business associates, customers, and industry partners are all good prospects for your list. Take it a step further by digging into your resume. Business Card List: Where is that stack of business cards? There is gold in those cards... we hope. Go through them and add them to your list. Holiday card lists: These are a bonanza if someone sends you a holiday card, chances are they will write you a check. The Associates: These are the folks you know but aren’t considered your close friends.  Play sports? Your kickball buddies have a check book, make that hard ask! Shoot them your donation link so they can show their support. Belong to book club? Ask the group to Venmo your campaign a donation.  Friends of Friends?  Add them to the list!   The Mentors: Have friends who have raised money? Some of your friends have raised money for groups, candidates, and causes. Charities or other candidates, ask them to raise money for you. Have actual friends who are elected officials give you suggestions of who to raise money from. Ask them if they will go through their list with you. The Classmates: Whoever is not covered on Facebook will be covered by going through your year book. All those guys who wrote “stay cool” need to hear from you.  Add them to your list. The Board: Make friends on boards. Boards are a great way to network and make good long-term contacts; it is a great place to find like-minded folks who can donate and help your list building efforts The Brothers and Sisters: Your sorority sisters and fraternity brothers are a wealth of fundraising prospects. Don’t forget about alumni chapters too. The Recommendations: Your friends have friends. Every time you reach out to a friend you must ask them for friends that are potential prospects. The Rest: Keep looking into whatever you do in your life where there could be prospects.  This includes past clubs, model UN, camp buddies, marching band, trail friends, law school class mates, bar associations, fellow entrepreneurs, union members, leadership class members, fellow realtors, PTA members, fellow den mothers, volunteer firemen, Peace Corps buddies, etc... Your Partner’s List: Your partner can do all of these things too! Make it a game, how much can you get from your friends and family? If you haven't gotten to 1/3 of your campaign budget keep going, keep list building. keep fundraising! Most importantly, make sure you don't steal lists, call people at work when they can't legally be called or break any fundraising laws. Yes, you should go talk to a lawyer and get legal advice on the dos and don'ts of fundraising. Bottom line: Don't leave any stones unturned, but make sure you follow the law. Have questions on list building? Ask them here: If you haven't already, check out our Complete Guide to Digital Advocacy!   Mon, 16 Oct 2017 08:00:12 EDT
Evaluating Success for Your Campaign Strategy The Campaign Workshop   Because They Don't Hand out Medals for Campaign Strategy  Now more than ever, it's important to set measurable goals for success and to evaluate your campaign strategy against those goals. What may have worked for another campaign may fail miserably for yours, so keeping your benchmarks for success in mind will be critical. Let's look back at evaluating success for your campaign strategy.  What is success? This is not always the question folks ask when developing a campaign strategy but it should be.  When starting on a new project, or even evaluating an older one, it’s important to set goals and measure the success of your campaign strategy.  Think about the goals for campaign strategy. Success metrics shouldn’t just be, “did it work?” Rather, you need measurable benchmarks that are meaningful to your organization.  Albert Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius.  But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it’ll spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.”  If you define the success of your campaign strategy by the wrong metric, you can end up continuing a program that isn’t working as well as it should, or worse, cutting off a project because it was not “climbing trees.” When it comes to campaign strategy, there is a difference between solutions and success.  There are a number of ways to solve any given problem, but some solutions may have unintended consequences or be organizationally untenable.  It’s also important to set realistic goals and measure your progress as you go to get a clearer picture of what elements make something successful for your individual campaign or organization. Be strategic about primary and secondary goals, and use both when evaluating success.  Perhaps your event didn’t raise quite as much money as you had hoped, but it did get a ton of publicity and a number of new supporters who may turn up for the next one, for example.  If your primary goal was to raise money, then perhaps you should look into other fundraising strategies, while you may want to hold low-cost events in the future for the secondary goal of growing your organization’s membership and public profile.  By splitting our goals, and definitions of success, rather than eliminating “failed” fundraising events, we get a more accurate picture of our strengths and weaknesses and what to do differently to make our next attempt successful. How do you judge the success of your campaign strategy? Leave a comment or drop us a line here: Sun, 15 Oct 2017 21:24:08 EDT

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