Grassroots Campaigns: a Political Memory

grassroots campaigns memories

How I Learned Grassroots Campaigns from the Master

Every Fourth of July, I think about my former boss, Congressman Jim Jontz. Jim taught me the importance of grassroots campaigns - real conversations, and knocking on doors. Jim was a congressman from Indiana’s 5th district and a progressive legend. In his first campaign, he won a state representative seat by 4 votes. He went on to win a state senate seat by less than 100 hundred votes and three congressional elections by less than four thousand votes total. He was my mentor and teacher in the world of grassroots campaigns.

I, along with many future campaign operatives, got my start in politics by doing field work for Jim Jontz in a rural Indiana district. There, I spent six months of my life organizing volunteers and knocking on doors and got a great apprenticeship in how to run grassroots campaigns.

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Canvassing Campaigns Still Matter


Don't knock door-to-door canvassing

Canvassing is special to me. I love knocking on doors. I think it is still a vastly underrated form of communication. Why do I think canvassing is so special? Because of the connection direct contact makes with targeted voters in a personal and systematic way. With any paid medium you need repetition over a condensed period of time.

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Tips to Mitigate Volunteer Flake Rate in Your Grassroots Campaign

5 Tips for Reducing Campaign Volunteer Flake Rate

Stop Grassroots Volunteers From Bailing

 Running a grassroots campaign is hard. There are always going to be grassroots volunteers who sign up for shifts and do not show up. That’s why when organizing an event, you can generally assume a 50% flake rate (percentage of grassroots volunteers who do not show up for their shift).  More often than not, however, with the right coaxing, you can get a volunteer, who would have otherwise failed, to turn out for their shift. Below are a few suggestions to help you to mitigate your flake rate.

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Empowering Volunteer Leaders


You Can't Do It All Yourself

Even if you were to never sleep, as a campaign organizer you can only do so much. There is, however, a way to vastly increase your organizing capacity, and that’s by empowering your volunteers to become peer leaders. Utilizing volunteer leaders, you can successfully run multiple phone banks and canvasses at the same time, in different parts of your turf! Once empowered, these leaders are also the people most likely to hold your team together during off cycle years. Thus it is worthwhile to develop volunteer leaders.

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