2018 was the first time I ever worked on a political campaign.
A candidate for state senate need a communication professional on the team, and I signed on. Eager for the chance to have a new type of work experience, I thought I would learn something valuable. In fact, I learned lots of valuable things.
Running a political campaign was one of the hardest things I have ever done. It was also one of the smartest, because all that time and effort has paid off.
It’s not too late for you to get serious about spending some time in the poltical arena. Here are all the things you will gain by working on a campaign in 2020.
Acquire New Skills
Prior to my political career, I knew nothing about “slicing turf,” or how the party machine in my state worked. Being involved in a state campaign gave me a chance to learn all so many new skills.
One bit of training that was valuable was learning the software and science behind field organization. It is critical for targeting voters and potential voters. I learned where our most likely voters lived, and those voters that might consider voting for our candidate. It was facinating.
Finding out how endorsements happen was another important lesson. There was a lot of research involved in preparing our candidate to go out and seek the endorsement of business organizations, labor unions, and community groups. We also learned to strategize around the issues, and how to convert those issues into talking points, and eventually fundraising opportunities.
Campaigns have small teams, so if you’re open to increasing your skills and knowledge, it is the perfect environment.
Networks & Friends
There is nothing like the battle of election season to forge bonds that last beyond the final voting results.
Campaign staff work hard and play harder. There is so much to do, never enough time, and non-stop stress. It is also fun because you are constantly strategizing, learning, and moving to make things happen for your candidate and your constituents.
When the campaign ends, you will have great resources, references, and relationships to rely upon as you make plans to do another campaign or to take into your career. This is an invaluable bonus of this type of work.
Meet Your Political Heroes
Working on a campaign means you get a front row seat to history.
In 2018, I attended many local, state, and national campaign events. Honestly, it was thrilling. These rallies and events helped to remind me why I was working so hard for so little money to make a difference.
From attending these events, I learned about speechwriting, and what type of language and flow resonated with the audience. I took notes on the talking points of the candidates. Learning the logistics of how the events were managed was also new to me, and I was glad to know the stagecraft behind such gatherings.
Since I worked on a campaign, I also had access to private meetings with some of the major political players. I even had a brief encounter and handshake with Barack Obama. It was a moment I’ll never forget.
If there was one job no one wanted to do, it was fundraising. And yet, there was no job that mattered more than fundraising. Without money, your strategy options are completely limited.
We were a small team, with a chief fundraiser, but it still required all of ust o pitch in and help. I learned how to write a good solicitation letter as well as a script for phone banks. When meeting potential donors, I crafted a standard speech to ask for money on the campaign. I was proud when I could present my first $1,000 donation check to our campaign. If this introvert can ask for money for a good cause, anyone can.
Learn How to Really Analyze Data
We had access to data from our state political party. Prior to working on the campaign, I had no idea how to really interpret that data. Working on the campaign helped.
With our data, and the polling information that would come in, we could synthesize the results and fine tune our strategies and messaging. We also used Google Analytics on the campaign website, and it helped us to tighten up our SEO practices, and use some of the analytics as part of our overall data set.
It was empowering to gain a better understanding and insight about reading data. As a result, I work hard to unearth data in my daily job because I know how important it is to making an informed decision as much as possible.
Serve Your Country
Participating in an election is an act of service. For this democracy to work, people need a choice when it comes to representation in government at all levels. Working on a campaign is a form of service to this country.
Your active engagement to reach people with information on candidates and causes will help them make an informed decision at the polls. Sometimes, it can even help to ensure that everyone gets to exercise their right to vote.
In 2018 when it was my time to vote, I was in line when a person was being told by election workers that she was not eligible to vote. I spoke up and asked the poll workers if she was eligible for a provisional ballot. She was, and the workers then helped her through that process. If I wasn’t working on a campaign, I’m not sure I would have known all my rights as a voter.
Are You In?
Being involved in a campaign is a ton of work. It’s more about passion than paychecks. You will work hard, and you will never feel like you did enough.
Don’t let that reality scare you, because democracy needs you.
Now is the time to get cranking on finding a way to get into politics for the 2020 election. Pick your perfect cause by going with a local race, state, or be a field organizer for the presidential candidate of your choice. Campaigns need people who will work hard, sacrifice, and commit to raising friends, cash, and their voice during this election cycle.
Democracy needs the people who aren’t afraid of a little risk, a little mess, and a lot of responsibility. It is exactly the stuff that this country was built on by those brave enough to propose and execute this great American experiment that is ever-changing.
It is up to us to do the work of this democracy. Join me in 2020