This is crazy, but here’s my candidate, so vote for them maybe?It’s that season again. The airways are full of endorsements for one candidate or another, my inbox is full of pleas for donations, and people’s phones and doorbells are ringing almost weekly from one campaigner or another. Well, unless you’re me. I’m the one on the other side of the door or at the other end of the phone with a smile. I realized the other day, while knocking on doors that most people don’t have that kind of experience, and might be interested to see a political campaign from the inside. Before I go any further, I want to say that I’ve been on campaigns for both parties, and at the end of the day, the actual activity of campaigning isn’t any different no matter where your politics lie. I’m not going to talk about politics, just mechanics. Cool? Cool.
Campaigns are a bit of an odd beast sometimes. The head of any campaign isn’t always the candidate. Generally, each candidate has a Campaign Manager, a person whose job it is to coordinate the campaign and make sure that everything is running properly. A good campaign manager has a vision for where things will go, what a candidate needs to get there, and above all an ability to go without food or sleep for weeks. Depending on the size and scope of a campaign, other staff might include a press/media contact who works with print and social media, and a Field Manager who focusses on phone calls and door knocking as well as volunteer coordination.
Now, in my general experience, I’ve worked on mostly state-level races. In each town there is usually a town headquarters for each party. In that HQ are over-caffienated campaign workers, each at their own desk, working on press releases, calling volunteers, or data entry. Really, it’s not the most glamourous place to be. Campaign offices are noisy, messy, but in some ways the most invigorating places ever. Everyone is working so hard towards a mutual goal, whether an issue or a person. It’s something that’s so hard to explain to others.
Once someone comes in to volunteer, a Campaign Manager will sit them down and ask how they heard about the candidate, and just get to know them for a while. Then, each person will be paired with an experienced door knocker, and out the door they go! I love knocking on people’s doors. Sure, I’ve had more than my share of doors slammed into my face, but I’ve also had some hilarious stories and some heart-wrenching experiences. The goal of door knocking, however, is to connect a voter with a real person instead of just a name. Even if it’s a volunteer at the door instead of a candidate, it’s a Real Person, which can make such a difference.
Really, being part of a campaign is an amazing experience, and something I’d recommend to anyone. Do you have any questions about being on a campaign or what the experience is like? Ask me in the comments! I’d love to talk to you all!