Our third day in Austin and our second at the “Campaign Bootcamp” was the most intense. Gone were the cultural activities or the speeches by former Supreme Court Justices. Today was devoted to learning about the nuts and bolts of the modern-day political campaign.
Our itinerary was as follows:
- Fundraising, by Pasha Moore
- Crafting the Message, by Parag and Luke Marchant
- Targeting Voters, Parag and Jeff Mason
- Polling,Chris Perkins
- Creating a Field Plan,
- Earned and Paid Media, Liz Chadderdon
- Social Media, Vincent Harris
- Campaign Team Work
Our favorites varied, with Cody preferring “Polling,” by Chris Perkins. Perkins was engaging, and stressed the importance of planning up front to achieve greater return on investment—or, as Perkins put it, “bang for your buck.” Perkins emphasized the importance of polling prior to even running for office, a move that will help campaigns know how to direct their message and prioritize their voter targets.
Dulce’s favorite was the fundraising session, led by Pasha Moore. Moore’s presentation emphasized three major components: (1) being personable while conducting yourself professional; (2) doing more than asking for support—you have to tell them how to support you; (3) and ask for more than you expect, but be realistic.
Jessica had two favorites. She enjoyed Vincent Harris’s session on social media, learning that websites are 50% more effective than email, ads, or facebook. Harris stressed the advantages of social media—it’s cheaper, more targeted, and has an immediacy for issues, advocacy, and defining who you are and who you are opponent is. (Cody, on the other hand, found it frightening that Harris noted that the “internet is the most trusted media by voters.”)
Jessica’s other favorite was the “Earned and Paid Media” session by Liz Chadderdon, who stressed the importance of print media and direct mail. She discussed “inefficient markets,” places such as New Jersey, where candidates who want television ads must pay for New York or Philadelphia markets, which means the candidate is paying for far more than the candidate’s targeted voters. Jessica, a photographer, enjoyed Chadderdon’s discussion of photography, who encouraged staffers to capture candidates looking strong, trustworthy, and caring about people. Her candidates are often shown in candid shows—hugging, celebrating, or smiling.
Dulce also enjoyed this session, recording to memory the three-step strategy from the session: (1) being likeable to candidates, which will encourage voters to (2) listen to your message, and (3) creating trust.
Following a long day of seminars, we then regrouped for mock campaign work. For her team, Dulce focused on demographics for the Democratic candidate. Jessica, on the hand, had the same role for the Republican candidate, a role that may have been uncomfortable for her as a Democrat, but a role she took on with gusto. Cody was also working for a Republican (and is a Republican), but his job involved event planning and outreach. The presentations are Sunday, but we have still have much to do.
That’s a lot to pack into a day, and it lasted from 8:30am through 10:00pm, with additional work in the hotel room (Jessica was up until 2:30am). But it also involved fantastic learning opportunities, wonderful chances for networking, and a great opportunity to get (mock) hands-on experience campaigning.
We appreciate the New Politics Forum hosting this opportunity annually and bringing in a great set of speakers for us to learn from.