The first main pillar of a good field organization, and the foundation of your organization, are your volunteers and paid canvassers. Now I know that many of the campaigns can’t afford to pay people to walk doors and to make phone calls so that puts more reliance on your volunteers. These people who you would want to target are the closest people to you. Personally, I have had friends and family become some of my best volunteers because they were the ones closest to me. The more volunteers you have, the better off you’ll be. You’ll be able to knock that many more doors or make more phone calls during the day because of the extra work force you have. But how do you recruit these people? First, you have to make “the ask”. Simply, just ask them if they would consider volunteering a few hours of their time to help elect your candidate. Just asking will go a long way on getting people into the campaign office and remember, the worst thing they can say is no. Build up your volunteer base and keep them happy. These are the most important people in your campaign because they are the ones carrying out your message and your candidate. They are meeting and talking to people every day so make sure to keep them happy, feel welcomed, and they will keep coming back to help you deliver your message.
The second pillar is to make sure you have a training program set. You need to make sure that everyone in your campaign, especially volunteers, are trained on how to canvass properly and effectively. A senior member of the campaign should lead the training and they can be done in groups to make sure that everyone gets the same training and same message. Some of the topics I would cover is to go over is the message you’re trying to tell the voters, how to read their walk sheets, how to mark their walk sheets, and any tips that you’ve found helpful during your time canvassing. All of these things will make their lives easier as
well as your own. A properly trained canvass is vital to your success.
Finally, the third pillar of a basic field operation is targeting your voters. If you were to blindly go to every door in the district that you’re walking, you will waste your time,
resources, and effort. If you knock on someone’s door that is a GOP precinct committeeman, you won’t be likely to get his or her vote. This is where targeting comes into play. A few simple steps will go far in targeting your races. If you know they are going to vote for your candidate and are likely to go out to vote, you shouldn’t knock on their door until election day and Get-Out-The-Vote efforts start. Another tip is to figure out the opposite of if they’re on your side, like the republican precinct committeeman or republican office holders. They aren’t likely to vote for your candidates so it isn’t worth your time to knock on their doors. Lastly, coordinate with other campaigns to work on targeting the right people in your district. Coordinating with other campaigns, where possible, is the definition of the mantra of working smarter, not harder. This also ties in the previous two pillars of a basic field operation because it helps in getting more people on the streets and making sure they’re trained properly. Democrats working together make us stronger.
Democrats united going into 2016 are vital to our success. From our friends in organized labor to our everyday volunteers in our local parties, we all need to make sure our friends, family, and neighbors realize what is at stake in 2016. A good field program, built with these basics, will give you a start to building up your ground game. Be sure to take advantage of any local training you can in your area on things like Votebuilder, canvassing, organizing, and any other ways to improve your skill set. I hope this was helpful to you and please continue to check back here often to continue to lead us to a 2016 victory.
Tyler Powers has worked as Field Director for Mike Jacobs for State Senate in 2012, 2014