Table of Contents:
I. Introduction and the Coordinated Campaign Committee
II. Getting Started
III. Creating a Green Campaign Plan
IV. Grassroots Fundraising Basics
VI. Volunteer Recruitment
VII. Getting Your Message Out
VIII. Debates and Forums
IX. Absentee Voters
X. Field Strategy
XI. Get Out The Vote (election day strategies)
XII. Media Strategy
At the time of writing, Green office holders in many states are hard at work. They are creating public policy on important issues including civil rights, a living wage, affordable housing and alternative voting systems. They are advocating for peace and opposing urban sprawl and expansion of corporate power. Green office holders are able to impact their communities and put Green values into action as legislators. These Greens reached out to voters of diverse backgrounds, brought together coalitions of community organizations and individuals to begin to reclaim their local governments.
The growth of the Green Party continues in 2005. All across the country hundreds of Green Party candidates are challenging the political status quo.
Now is a great time for candidates and activists to learn the art (as well as the nuts and bolts) of running for office. And a smart, energetic candidate can win. We need qualified people who are willing to run for office, and teams of dedicated people behind them to help elect more Greens to office at every level. We especially encourage people who are under-represented in elective office to consider running:; women, African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans, gays and lesbians, people with disabilities, young people and members of other traditionally underrepresented communities. If you or someone you know is considering running, please contact your state Green Party, or local chapter. Links to state party and local chapter websites can be found here.
To run as a Green candidate, you must be either a registered Green, if party registration is possible in your state, or a member of your state Green Party. Rules vary from state to state, so check with your state election office and local Green Party for eligibility requirements. Green candidates must also demonstrate a commitment to the 10 Key Values.
A winning campaign is a team effort. It is essential that candidates work hand-in-hand with campaign managers, fundraisers, organizers, web designers and volunteers. This manual is not just for candidates – it is intended to help all Greens interested in building campaign skills and putting Greens in office.
We hope you find the 2004 Green Party Campaign Manual useful in planning and running your campaign. If you have suggestions or additional questions, please contact us.
The 2004-2005 Coordinated Campaign Committee
Special thanks to Susan King (CA), Mike Livingston (MD), Brent McMillan (DC), Gray Newman (NC), John Nichols (WI) and Juscha Robinson (WI) for contributing to this manual, and to all Green candidates across the country who took the plunge in 2004.
The Coordinated Campaign Committee
The Coordinated Campaign Committee of the Green Party of the United States is one of three elected committees for the national party. The CCC is the committee that is empowered to work collaboratively with state and local chapters in developing resources and support for Green candidates.
There are ten elected representatives on this committee, elected annually at the national meeting. Each representative is elected on his or her own merits and does not represent a particular state or affiliation.
The scope of the work of the CCC is determined in large part by the strategic plan set forth by the membership of the committee. Coordinated Campaign Committee duties include the following (non-exhaustive) list:
- Provide resources and support for electoral campaigns nationwide; tasks in this area include producing training materials, campaign trainings, provide advise and direct campaign support via the targeted resources sub committee.
- Work with locals around the country to help them develop resources to run strong Green campaigns; tasks include working with the Ballot Access Working Group for ballot access, working with state and local chapters to develop their programs, maintain contact with locals around the country and maintain a database of candidates and elected Greens.
- Communicate with GPUS and others about the work of the CCC by maintaining and updating the CCC website, keeping and posting accurate meeting minutes and working to create and support subcommittees to coordinate CCC work.
- Communicate with other relevant committees, including but not limited to: Media, Finance, Fundraising, and identity caucuses, such as the Lavender Greens, Black Caucus, Women’s Caucus, Latino Caucus and others Issues related working groups.
- Create internal policies to facilitate effective operations of the CCC, by: developing a strategic plan for the CCC, creating policies for the Matching Funds Program and Targeted Campaign Resources Program, and establish effective policies within the CCC that standardize work and procedures.
The Coordinated Campaign Committee's work to date can be viewed on-line.
II. Getting Started
There are many important factors to consider before announcing your candidacy (or someone else’s candidacy) for office. Here are a few considerations:
Are you qualified? No candidate should seek an office for which they are not qualified and not willing to accept should s/he win;
Will your candidacy contribute to the diversity of the party? If you are white and male, think about how you can support female and candidates of color before deciding to run for office. Local and state party activists should actively pursue women and minority candidates. They should encourage male candidates to consider the impact of their decision to run on the diversity of the Green candidate pool. This is not to say that white males should not run, but that we should strive to have gender balance and proportionate representation for minority candidates.
Why are you running? Before you run, it is important to figure out what your goals are and how you will achieve them. Are you running to win? To build the party? To help a state party keep ballot access? To develop campaign skills? To take a stand on an important issue or issues? To support important ballot measures? To bring new voters into the party? To build coalitions with other progressive groups? To "spoil" the race? The goals for your campaign should be identified, and your campaign plan should outline how you plan to achieve your goals. For instance, if you are running to increase Green registration in your area, voter registration should be a key element in your campaign. Ideally, the party will be significantly enhanced following your campaign, with new locals or new active members and a greater diversity (age, ethnicity, profession, backgrounds) within the party in your campaign area.
What is the political climate in your area? Is there a local Green Party in your area? How many registered Greens are there in your area, if state law allows for party registration? How do progressive candidates and other Green candidates fare in your area? Does your state have ballot access for the Green Party? Ideally, you should look at these factors and consider what support you have before jumping into a larger race. What are pressing local/political issues that Green candidates can impact? For example, if factory farms are moving in to an area, Greens can make a difference by running for soil and water commissions to talk about the impact of these kinds of operations on the local environment and economy. Other favorable situations are races without incumbents (or very unpopular ones), or with only one other contender.
What office should you seek? If you are running to win, start local. Go to your local elections website (or office) and find out what local seats are up for election and match this with your interest and expertise. In some states, many of these offices are non-partisan. Many are below the radar, so to speak, and do not get the visibility of higher offices. Nonetheless, these are the seats that offer Greens the best chance to win elections and put Green values into action via legislative changes. They are also stepping-stones to higher office down the line. In some areas, city council races are small. In other places, they are larger and more intense than state assembly races. Examples of local offices (which vary greatly in both name and substantive work across the country) include: School Board, Community College Board, Rent Control
Board, Planning Commission, Conservation District, Water Board, Fire District, Transit Board, and Board of Appeals, to name just a few. Commissions and Boards are excellent places to get in on the ground level of local governance. Be sure to talk with your local and state Green Parties, too, about short- and long-term strategy for electoral activity.
What resources are available to you? Again, the local Green Party is your best first place to start. How can you work together to make your campaign a success? You need to assess your personal resources as well: finances, networks of support, professional connections, clubs and other affiliations that you can activate, family, friends, co-workers, and most importantly, your time. What commitments do you have that may limit your campaigning? Consider the effect of your campaign on your family and your job. Could you take some time off to campaign full-time? Do you have the support of your family? What is your reputation in the community?
Once you have decided to make the commitment and chosen your race, it is time to start your campaign! For more in depth discussion of the grooming and recruiting of candidates, please see the CCC’s Candidate Recruitment Manual, available online.
III. Creating a Green Campaign Plan
File papers establishing your candidacy and comply with other official campaign requirements: If you are running for state or local office, you must fill out paperwork and file it with the appropriate campaign office, which will depend on state and local elections laws. In some states, you may get the paperwork from the state election office. In other areas, you might get the paperwork from the county clerk.
Ask what kind of help the state or local Elections Department (also called Registrar of Voters, Elections Office, Department of Voters, State Elections Board) can give you (in many states, the division of government that administers elections is located within the Secretary of State). Many elections departments offer training on the basic requirements for running for office. Some elections departments may give you a calendar with deadlines, a check list with filing requirements, finance and reporting documentation requirements, and basic campaign finance rules and limits. If you are running for federal office, the Federal Elections Commission provides a variety of resources for candidates.
Other key information to gather includes: Sign posting ordinances, postal regulations for political mail, and any local campaign ordinances. There may be a fee that you will be required to pay when you file your initial papers. The amount will vary by office.
An important note on campaign finances: your campaign MUST comply with all local, state and federal campaign finance requirements. If you are running in a local race, your local elections departments will be able to help you with figuring out the applicable law. The most basic aspect of complying with campaign finance laws is the filing of your campaign committee. You must have a treasurer, who puts his or her name on the filing, and takes legal responsibility for the accuracy and timeliness of any committee reports, which are required at certain points during the campaign. There can be hefty fines for even a few days’ delay in filing a report. In most states, local races can exempt themselves from filing most of these later reports if they check the box on the initial
filing, promising that they will not spend more than $1,000. This is a waiver.
Another important thing to keep in mind even this early, is that there is usually a requirement that campaigns record contact information and employment of any contributor over a certain amount. This is typically around $100, but many Green campaigns choose to gather this information for any contribution over $20. This information is reported in your committee filings, which can then be reviewed for conflicts of interest or other misappropriation. The materials you receive from the elections office should include what information you must gather.
When should you announce?
Ideally, as soon as you are ready to run. Your campaign announcement should be your first major event, and should definitely include a strong fundraising pitch and request for volunteers. The advantages of announcing earlier means that you have a jump on endorsements from local progressives and can stake out the race as ‘yours’ first (so your opponents are the spoilers). On the other hand, announcing too far in advance can back-fire, resulting in no media attention and an early depletion of your campaign’s limited resources.
Assemble your campaign team
Never go it alone, even from the start. Your best sources of support are from your network of contacts and the local Green chapter, so start there. If you are running in an area where there is no Green local, a campaign is a great project around which to start one! Green campaign teams often develop into Green locals after Election Day. For information about how to start a Green Party local, contact your state party or the national green party office.
The four most important team members a campaign needs are: 1) campaign coordinator or manager; 2) treasurer (legally required); 3) volunteer coordinator and 4) fundraiser.
Other assignments include: phone bank coordinator, scheduler/events tracker, precinct coordinator, precinct captains, precinct walkers, graphic designer, press secretary, policy director, research coordinator, database manager and IT coordinator. See the section on Volunteers and the appendix on Campaign Staff for more info on this subject.
Find the numbers
You need to figure out how many votes are needed to win, where your likely support will come from and how you will reach them to win. When you file the papers to establish your candidacy, you should also ask for previous elections data for the office you seek. Registration information, in states where it is available, will tell you how many Greens, Democrats, Republicans and Independent or "Decline to State" voters are in your district. Voter turnout is another key source of information.
The state elections office is an excellent resource for election results by district and precinct from past elections. This information is often available online as well. While you will not be able to see how individual voters cast their votes, you will be able to view vote totals by precinct. With this information, you can identify areas in which to concentrate your efforts, which is especially helpful in large district races.
It may also be helpful to get results for other offices where Greens or progressive candidates ran recently, so you can get an idea of if there is an area that may be especially supportive of your candidacy. This is critical for developing a campaign strategy. See
the section on Targeting for more information on this topic.
Develop a Green Platform
Greens already have a strong platform to run on. Work with your local to develop or enhance the local chapter’s platform to use for your campaign. If there is not a local platform, you can go to the state or national website and use this as a basic guideline. To make the platform relevant, it is important to identify community concerns and illustrate how our 10 Key Values and ideas address those concerns.
Start by identifying three to five key issues to promote during your campaign: What are the most important issues to voters in your community? How do they affect your race? What issues are you passionate about? Why are you running in this race?
Other ways to develop your local platform with specifics include setting up meetings with local activists, community stakeholders, elected and appointed officials, non-profit organizations that specialize in the issues you are working on to get their ideas about creative solutions and possible legislation to promote during your campaign.
Going online to find relevant research papers, reading local papers, tracking current and proposed legislation are other ways to find pertinent information about the issues you are highlighting in your campaign. Knowledge is power, make sure you have as much as you need to run an informed and effective campaign.
Make a campaign timeline
Develop a campaign calendar with key dates for filing and other benchmarks. It is also good to find out about public events in your area and schedule those in as well. You will be reaching out to lots of different organizations, so it is good to get an idea of when groups hold their regular meetings and ask for time on their agendas to meet with members. Regular campaign team meetings are best scheduled later at night or early in the day, to leave prime time for campaign related events. Use computer software, if possible, to help you keep track of the many commitments you have during the campaign.
Make a budget
A budget includes projected expenditures and income. Set up a fundraising plan – figure out how your campaign will go about raising money. Plan your expenditures – how will your campaign spend it? Once you have a budget, you can determine your field, media and outreach strategies based on a realistic assessment of your finances. Costs to consider, even for a bare bones grassroots campaign, include: filing fees, fundraising expenses, printing for signs, brochures, walk pieces, direct mail expenses, web design fees, event related costs such as food and beverages, and food for volunteers. Additional expenses may include: office space, print ads and media buys (radio, cable TV), staff stipends, other campaign materials like stickers, buttons, t-shirts and yard signs.
Create a system to track information
A good list of names is the foundation of a winning campaign. Your campaign will use your list for fundraising, finding volunteers, and reminding people to vote. It is best to keep your information in a database. If you cannot find good or affordable database software, maintain your information in a spreadsheet. Regularly back up your information and store the backup disk at a second location.
Add any new names you acquire to your list. Note where they came and when you acquired the information. Think about innovative ways to build your list. Always have a clipboard ready to sign up new supporters. Do sign-ups at every tabling location, event, rally, etc.
If you cannot keep track of information on a computer, use a paper filing system with 3" x 5" note cards. You can also use a three-ring binder system. Make a 8.5" x 11" information sheet for each contact, and organize the sheets alphabetically.
IV. Grassroots Fundraising Basics
How much do you need and how much can you realistically expect to raise?
Draft a basic campaign budget of everything you must absolutely do, things you would like to do, and things that would be fine to do if you have the money. Once you have your priorities, you will know what you are asking donors to give to and why it is so important that they do so.
How are you going to get it?
The Green Party and its candidates do not take corporate contributions. Green candidates and others who eschew corporate controlled politics must focus on other types of fundraising to fund their campaigns. Here are some tried and true grassroots methods:
The candidate should go through all of his or her personal and professional contacts to find likely supporters. Make a list on paper or using a spreadsheet. Determine an "ask" amount for each of your contacts. The best way to determine an ask amount is to figure out how much you think the prospective donor can give and then double that amount. Set a schedule to contact everyone on this list.
A secondary source of names should come from professional contacts within organizations that are likely sources of support. For example, Medea Benjamin, California's US Senate candidate in 2000 and co-founder of Global Exchange targeted human rights groups, anti-globalization organizations and leaders, etc.
You cannot raise all of the money you need to win alone. Ask all of your donors, prospects and volunteers to mine their own rolodexes (or PDAs) for potential donors. If you know someone has their own list, ask them to share it. Ask them to solicit their contacts or figure out a way for you (the candidate) to solicit them. It is helpful, but not necessary, to send a preliminary mailing to people who may need a little background on the candidate before being asked.
Remember your contribution limits!
Federal election law limits individual campaign contributions to $2,000 per election cycle. Contribution limits on local and state races vary.
Remember your manners
Thank your donors with a personal note for their contributions. Do this within a few days of receiving the checks.
Gather lists of likely donors (registered Greens, members or supporters of your Green local, members of organizations or clubs you are affiliated with or active in, lists from previous campaigns, list swaps with organizations or publications). Try to get lists that are in an electronic format. This will save your volunteers from dozens of hours of data entry.
Direct your fundraising appeal content and enclosures towards the specific audience and convey how supporting you is in their interests. If the list is from another campaign or organization, the candidate or organizational leader should sign the letter or the enclosure.
Letters to potential large donors should be hand addressed and include a personal note if you or the letter signatory knows them.
Bulk mail permits and computer-generated labels are a must for large mailings, but if you have a smaller list and a solid core of volunteers, hand addressed envelopes have a much higher chance of being opened and getting a response.
Pre-printed remittance envelopes with the return address and space for donor information are vital. They can be purchased in bulk and used throughout the campaign. Professional looking materials inspire confidence in the candidate and help present your campaign in a positive light.
Again, all donors who make a contribution should get a thank you note, even if it is a postcard. You can (and should) solicit them at least every six to eight weeks throughout the campaign.
Phone banking is an important element of a successful direct mail campaign. Ideally, start the phone bank when you expect the fundraising appeal to arrive in your prospects' mailboxes. Always try to get as many phone numbers with any list to which you do a mailing. Here is what you need to do a phone bank:
Names with numbers to call.
Volunteers and a phone bank or volunteer coordinator
A script that supports the content of the direct mail piece
Phones – even two in the same room or office is a good start. Ask friendly businesses for permission to use their phones after hours. You will need phone bank locations later in your campaign for field operations as well, and your telephone fundraising should be an integral part of your outreach efforts.
A basic tracking form to keep track of pledges, volunteers and comments.
Suggested but not mandatory: a means to accept credit card donations on the spot. It is best to get the funds while you have the person on the phone and excited. On average, only about 50% of all money pledged actually gets sent in, so it is best to get
the funds over the phone. You can also have volunteers pick up contributions at donors' homes and offices.
Remember to recruit volunteers as you raise money. Also, if someone is asked to volunteer and they cannot, they are more likely to be willing to donate if that is the next question.
Phone bank volunteers should complete and sign pledge letters at the phone bank. They can be put in the mail the same day the donor makes the pledge. Thank your donors when the pledges come in. Update all pledges and fulfilled pledges in the database. Do follow up mailings or calls to the unfulfilled pledges after two weeks. After that, make phone calls and/or mailings to collect unfulfilled pledges weekly. After four attempts to collect the pledge, stop trying to reach the donor. They are not going to donate.
One of the best ways for a new candidate to both introduce him or herself to a group of potential supporters and raise money is a house party. House parties are fundraising events hosted by supporters who provide the venue (usually their homes), light refreshments and a group of their friends to meet the candidate.
The best sources of house party hosts are your core volunteers and donors. Often, house parties generate more hosts for future events.
Some basic guidelines for house party hosts:
Find a date that works for both host and candidate.
The host should generate a list of people she thinks may be interested in the campaign. Ask at least four times as many people as you would like to attend.
Send out invitations 4-8 weeks in advance to give guests notice of the event, include remittance envelopes for those who cannot attend but would like to donate.
Do follow-up calls (not emails) to ask each invitee to attend 1-2 weeks before the event.
Call and remind folks a few days before the event to make sure they don’t forget.
Ask a few close friends or volunteers to coordinate the event and assist the day of so you are not overwhelmed.
Provide light refreshment for the event and maybe some live entertainment but KEEP IT SIMPLE. This is not a dinner party so there is no need to spend lots of money.
Have literature and campaign materials for the guests.
Do a fundraising pitch, even if you ask for a check at the door.
Remember to recruit volunteers and new house party hosts. Pass a sign-up list.
Keep a sign in list and make sure the names get entered into the campaign database.
Remember to send thank you notes to all your guests. If you can get the candidate to sign, it is a nice touch.
When possible, campaign staff should come with the candidate to help at the house party, to make sure that there are materials, and to provide support for the host.
One of the most significant parts of Ralph Nader’s 2000 presidential campaign was the creation of the Super Rally. These events featured top notch performers, well known activists and public figures, and of course, a speech by Ralph himself. While he could (and did) fill venues with just him, these Super Rallies were mega-events that drew thousands, garnered media attention, and generated excitement for the campaign, as well as (literal) bucket loads of cash and fresh volunteers.
While it is not realistic to think you can have a Super Rally in a large venue for a school board campaign, you can take some of the tactics and apply them. For instance, try to get a venue that will hold maybe 100-200 people, a local bar or community room. Find some band and other forms of entertainment (most campaigns attract a range of talented people) and put on a show. Ideally, you can invite your high profile endorsers to speak and help draw a crowd.
Send postcards to your supporters.
Post fliers throughout the neighborhood to draw more of the non-political types who enjoy a show.
Include the event in your phone bank script, or lead off with it in your rap.
Notify the local newspaper entertainment sections.
Send press releases and do follow up calls.
Get radio and newspaper coverage of your campaign to promote the event.
Ask all your supporters to send emails to their various lists.
Post on email lists, websites, chat rooms, and other online resources.
These events should be planned with plenty of lead time and should occur after your campaign gains initial momentum. They are a great way to inspire your troops in the final weeks of the campaign and can draw much needed media coverage as well as cash.
The event should raise money at the door, but always, always do a live ‘pitch’ for funds. Find a charismatic speaker to do the pitch. Usually the fundraiser asks for the higher donors to step forward and keeps plugging until dropping to the next level. Timing is everything. The conclusion of the pitch should be the passing of donation containers through the crowd. Make sure you have containers (with lids is ideal) and good volunteers to work each aisle or area of the venue to maximize support.
Important: Major events can be major money losers; do not invest an extraordinary amount of time and money into these kinds of events unless you have the exhibited support to create a successful event. Don’t be afraid to pull the plug if it looks like you won’t gain anything out of the event (a dud of an event can backfire).
Public Events, Tabling, Outreach, Rallies, etc.
As a candidate, you will have the opportunity to address the public and members of your community at events throughout your campaign. Whenever you are speaking in public, have volunteers ready with clipboards and pre-addressed remit envelopes to circulate among the crowd. All lists generated at events should be entered into the database for future fundraising and volunteer purposes.
Additionally, you will likely have a tabling operation for visibility and outreach (especially at large outdoor events). Buttons, stickers and other paraphernalia can generate a steady flow of petty cash for your campaign. If you are collecting donations, make sure you are following your state’s campaign finance laws. Of course, carry sign up sheets and voter registration materials as well.
In general, always carry remit envelopes and donor materials with you to all functions you attend. You never know when you might find a new supporter who forgot their checkbook.
Political Party Support
Party committees may contribute funds directly to federal candidates, subject to contribution limits (usually $2,000 per election). National and state party committees may make additional coordinated expenditures to candidates in general elections. State and local parties may also spend an unlimited amount on certain grassroots activities (like voter registration drives). Other direct political support from political parties, however, may be subject to certain limits. Check the campaign finance materials you received when you filed. Even if your local or state Green Party is not set up or prepared to make a donation to your campaign, ask if they will solicit their membership for individual contributions.
In some states, campaigns have the opportunity to get public funding if they meet certain requirements. This type of funding is still rare, but increasingly available. When a Green campaign succeeds in getting public funding, it can be a huge boost in morale and ability to get out its message! Check with your state party and the state elections office early in your campaign to find out if this is a possibility for you.
Now you are ready to go out and raise some money for your campaign!
There are an infinite number of other methods of fundraising not mentioned here. Auctions, raffles, campaign ads with clip out coupons that request donations, etc. are other possibilities. These are just a few ideas to get you started. Raising money is something that does not come naturally to many people, including candidates, but once you get the hang of it, it gets easier. And there are actually legions of people out there who enjoy this kind of work and can help you. So keep the faith and good luck!
Endorsements are an important element in winning campaigns, and are usually low cost or free. Good endorsements from individuals and organizations can garner you additional votes and support. The media looks favorably on candidates with strong endorsements and this may open some doors to you and your campaign. Endorsements also build credibility for your campaign. As a Green candidate, go to the local chapters in your area for support, but DON’T STOP THERE. There are lots of other groups that can offer you support.
Support From Individuals:
Start early! Get the jump on your competitors if you can.
Start with local elected Greens if you can, and get other prominent progressive and Green leaders to sign on.
If you are active in the community, go to every club member and board member for organizations you are involved with and ask for a personal endorsement.
Ask your friends and co-workers to sign on early.
Make a list of all of the important people in your area, and experts in the fields of influence in your particular race. If you are running for local office, try to get progressive elected officials, commissioners, and committee members in public office to support you. If you are running for water conservation district, get local scientists and conservationists to endorse you.
Develop a plan to meet with as many of these important opinion leaders. Send out a mailing and do follow up calls and ask for appointments to meet with them.
If you are running for a specialized office, like school board, get teachers and professionals related to the field to endorse you. This creates credible contacts within the community.
Talk to people who may not support you; you can learn from them and develop your message; you may also get their support, even if you don’t expect it.
Always carry pre-printed endorsement cards with you wherever you go. Ask every one of your supporters if you can list them as an endorser. Get titles and occupations listed if possible.
Support From Groups and Clubs:
Find all of the clubs and organizations in your district that do endorsements and make sure you know when they meet to make their endorsements. Often, the club will mail a questionnaire to candidates, but make sure they mail to every candidate and if not, request a questionnaire to be sure you are not overlooked.
Contact unions. Their endorsements often translate into donations and teams of dedicated volunteers. As Greens, we have a progressive agenda that is a good match for union rank and file members. We need to reach this constituency.
As Greens, we often cannot get the endorsement of political clubs for other parties. This is not always the case (in SF, several Democratic clubs also endorse Greens), but don’t be disappointed if you are not considered by partisan clubs. Move on.
Look for issue based clubs, especially environmental groups, peace and activist
groups, clubs, tenants’ rights organizations, transportation advocacy groups, senior support clubs (Gray Panthers, Senior Action Network), women’s groups, parents support groups. Focus on clubs that you have a connection with (like vegetarian clubs if you are a vegetarian). Don’t forget your local chapter of the Sierra Club. In the last year, national Sierra Club leadership has indicated that Green candidates at all levels should seek the local or state chapter’s endorsement. For contact information, go to www.sierraclub.org or contact the national Green Party office.
Fill out every questionnaire, no matter how obscure the club is or how remote you think your chances are at an endorsement. Many candidates do not turn in questionnaires and are therefore not considered.
Before you make a presentation to groups and clubs, do your homework: know the issues that are important to the people in each group so you can speak convincingly as to why they should support you. If it is a senior group, find out what issues are of major concern to them and be prepared to illustrate how your platform addresses these concerns.
Always be charming and professional when making public appearances, especially at endorsement meetings. Use your personal experiences to relate to the people with whom you are meeting. If you are running for transit board, for instance, talk about your experience as a bus rider, or how you worked to keep fares from rising as an activist, etc.
Have a list of endorsements, even if it is just a list of your supporters on your biography and campaign literature to show that you have support in the community.
Use your endorsements to gain other endorsements.
Volunteers are the most valuable asset your campaign has. You must treat your volunteers with respect and make the job fun, or they won’t stick around. Here are some tried and true methods for recruiting, inspiring and supporting a dedicated crew of volunteers.
Start with your friends and allies. Host a meet and greet and pass around a sign up sheet. Bring clipboards and sign up sheets wherever you go and make sure you have someone circulate it to sign up new volunteers.
Ask everyone with whom you speak to get involved in your campaign. (This can be a good way to get a donation if the person is too busy to help).
Ask your phone bankers to recruit volunteers from enthusiastic voters they encounter on the phone. The same for field and tabling volunteers.
Use the same techniques that you use for fundraising: ask everyone, hold events for volunteer raising and get people to pledge hours as well as dollars.
Colleges, senior centers and community centers are good places to recruit your core staff. Students are often eager for campaign internships and can get class credit. Seniors may like the social atmosphere of campaigns and like to be useful and active.
Be Inclusive. Most people are active in the Green Party because they care about the values of the party. You will have lots of Green volunteers, but you may also have members of other parties who like your positions. Do not run down non-Greens and see that your campaign is a supportive environment for all of your supporters.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Be sure to thank your volunteers early and often and let them know how truly valuable they are. Recognize volunteers in private and in public, with words, certificates, small gifts, signed bumper stickers, or funny awards.
Never lose your temper with a volunteer. If there is a problem with a volunteer, take him or her aside discreetly and discuss the situation. It is sometimes necessary to ask a volunteer to go, especially if their behavior is disruptive to the campaign and other volunteers.
Always have something for volunteers to do. There should always be a task that needs doing if your HQ is open. Keep a stack of fliers that need to be folded, a phone list and phones or a mailing that needs to be prepared so walk-ins can be put to work right away. Volunteers keep coming back if they feel it is a good use of their time.
Will work for food. Since most campaigns do not have funds for staffing, you should feed your volunteers. It is especially important to have healthy, warm food in the evenings, since many volunteers came straight from work. They will stay longer if they don’t have to go home when they are hungry. Try to avoid too much junk, or high fat foods. Greens always appreciate vegetarian options and healthy fare. If you allow alcohol in your office, don’t start drinking until the end of the day’s activities.
Make it fun! Most volunteers come back because they like what they are doing. Make sure the campaign HQ is a supportive and fun atmosphere for everyone. Have social activities like mailing parties and time to unwind after the shift with food and beverages.
Access for everyone. Encourage people to bring their kids by having things for children to do, such as making signs and posters. Make sure your HQ is accessible for people with disabilities. Seniors are great volunteers, so work to ensure that the office set up is comfortable and accessible to this crowd as well.
Remember that there is a job for everyone. Sometimes this requires some creative thinking. For example, if you have someone who is effusive and personal, put them at the front desk to welcome people who walk in the door. Sometimes you get folks you just want out of the office: give them visibility assignments, like holding sandwich board signs at busy intersections during rush hour. If a person is the quiet type, they may like data entry, writing, sign making or putting up posters on lamp
poles or other less interactive tasks.
Get buy in. Identify your most enthusiastic and competent supporters for higher profile, higher responsibility jobs. Getting your volunteers to invest in the campaign is easier if you assist them in taking a leadership role in helping to develop and run the campaign. By the same token, do not overwhelm a volunteer with more responsibility than they want or can handle.
Assign regular volunteers to do specific jobs. These can include staffing the front desk, managing volunteers, coordinating phone banks, etc. It is easier to manage people when they have a clearly defined task and can just come in and get to work. Give them latitude to be creative and develop the position as long as they get results. Make sure your expectations are clear for both the campaign and the volunteer.
Accountability. Be clear with your expectations of volunteers, and ask them for a schedule if possible so you know when they are coming in. Check in with your leadership volunteers regularly to see how they are holding up and what they need from you to do their jobs. If a volunteer suddenly stops coming in, call them up to see if they are all right. Let volunteers know up front how important they are to the campaign and that because they are needed no matter what their situation, the campaign and their responsibilities can be flexible.
Ask every volunteer to commit to working on election day. This is the big day and you will need a large crew to help.
VIII. Getting Your Message Out
There are many ways to reach voters with your message; This section lays out the basics: Materials, Direct Mail, Paid Advertising, Predictive Dialing, Electronic Outreach and Visibility.
A. Campaign Materials
Yard, Window, and Street Signs:
Political yard signs are an essential tool that campaigns both big and small use to help raise their candidate’s name identification and get their message out in front of the voters repeatedly. In order to be successful, your campaign should take time in designing and printing your signs and in planning out your sign strategy.
Your signs should be used to raise your candidate’s name recognition – by having the voters see your candidate’s name over and over again, they will come to recognize him or her as a candidate.
Most campaigns don’t plan out a strategy for yard signs. Instead, they simply send out volunteers to place the signs wherever they can. This is a mistake. The key to ensuring that your signs succeed is planning out a detailed yard sign strategy – where should your signs go and when. Will all your signs appear overnight (with lots of pre-planning)? Or will you have just a few signs in very strategic and highly visible locations?
Of course, the answers to these questions are largely based on your campaigns financial situation, which determines how many signs you can purchase. Will you be able to blanket the district in signs, or will you only be able to afford a few dozen signs that will have to last you through the entire campaign?
Another key element to your plan is timing when your signs go up. In many area, there are laws that govern yard signs and when they may be posted, so check to make sure your campaign complies with the law. Yard signs should start going up as soon as legally possible. Raising name ID is hard, and you’ll need all the time you can get to be successful. Incumbents, too, should plan on placing yard signs as soon as possible.
Like all aspects of your campaign, your yard sign strategy should be closely targeted to be effective. Certainly, unless there is a very good reason to do otherwise, your signs should all be placed in your district. Other considerations include making sure that signs are placed on major thoroughfares and close to high traffic areas in your district, and (unless you have an endless supply of signs) placing less signs in areas that you know you won’t win so that you have more signs left to place in areas where there are more favorable swing voters.
It is also important to make sure that signs stay up in areas you have targeted. One great political truism is that no matter how many yard signs you put up, some will eventually disappear. You need to have a plan in place to replenish signs on a regular basis, especially in your key targeted areas.
The last piece of the yard sign puzzle is your organization – the people who put up your signs and make sure they stay up. It is important to recruit a team to scour the district for sign locations. This team can also help your campaign look for supporters in targeted areas who will agree to place your signs on their lawns or in their windows. Be sure to keep an eye out as you go door to door as well – ask voters that you visit if they would be willing to display a sign for your campaign
Images for yard and street signs
Photographs, slogans and messages distract the reader from the main objectives. So do complex graphics and bright, but illegible color combinations. In fact, it is recommended that a candidate NOT spend the extra money for multiple colors, shadows or gradients (shades). These can make a sign harder to read. The same is true of bright color combinations. The mistake most people make is thinking that because warning, construction and traffic signs are bright that they must be easier to read. On the contrary; they are more readily noticed, but the actual wording can give the optical illusion of being blurred! The purpose for which each was designed is totally different (that's why driver's tests require us to memorize sign shapes). Generally, a one-color sign, with part being in reverse print and part being regular, will give you the most impact!
Use the money you save to purchase more or better quality signs. Are you going to run again, even if you lose? On orders of less 500, you can count on getting enough back that it will be worth the extra money to buy corrugated plastic signs. They're not only weather proof, but totally reusable and many times over. Corrugated makes sense for signs that will need to be up for more than 90 days as well.
Regardless of the style of sign you might choose, or the way in which you have it printed, one thing is certain. There is no more cost effective way to build recognition and credibility than with yard signs.
Types of signs
Coroplast is like corrugated cardboard but made from plastic. It is a lightweight, attractive and inexpensive material used to make signs. It is a twin wall plastic separated by corrugated flutes. It is outdoor rated and weather-resistant and can be printed on both sides. Wire step stakes can slide up through the flutes for ground mounting.
Weather board is a poster board that has been plastic coated on both sides for weather resistance. It is designed to repel water and is imprintable on one side only. It is not as rigid as coroplast, but can last for short term campaigns. The weather board is creased to fold over a wire stake, then stapled for ground mounting.
A poly bag sign is a polyethylene plastic that has sealed edges on three sides and slides over a U-shaped wire stake to mount to the ground. It is outdoor material and printed on both sides. It has an interior sun block so the image can be easily read.
The Candidate’s Brochure
The Candidate's Brochure is the backbone of your publicity effort. It is your basic piece of literature that you will present to voters. It is not a position paper, or a Statement of Principles, or a condensation of the Green Party platform. If you feel you need these, fine. But don't include them in the Candidate's Brochure. Again, stress the message of your two or three main issues.
By "brochure" we mean whatever type of printed campaign literature you decide to produce. It is not so important whether your piece is an 8.5x11 tri-fold or a 3x8 card, or something else. It is critical, though, that it be well done.
Many brochures can be "self-mailers," that is, the back panel has enough space for a stamp and address, so that it can be dropped into the mail. Make allowances for this when you design your brochure, if you are planning to do any mass mail.
Your brochure should be laid out so that your message will come through even if the copy is not read. There should be a "grabber" headline, and headlines for each section of copy. Write it to be scanned; that is all most voters will do. Repetition is important even within the brochure. Use the "military instruction" method of:
1. Tell them what you are going to tell them.
2. Then tell them your message.
3. Then tell them what you told them.
Have the typesetting and layout -- in fact, the whole design -- done professionally. Voters do not respond to material that looks as if it were designed and pasted together on the kitchen table, because it looks as if "you don't have a chance," even if they agree with you.
People know that it takes a lot of money to run a campaign, so anything you put out should look fairly expensive, whether it is or not. Actually, the price of a professionally- done brochure is only slightly higher, per unit, than a cheap, mimeograph sheet, when dealing in significant quantities. But the added legitimacy of professional work heightens the willingness to listen to your message many times over.
This means selecting a paper that feels nice, having lots of white space around your printing (i.e. keeping the text concise), using good quality photographs, and choosing a pleasant typeface. It also means, if you can possibly afford it, using two colors or even three, instead of just one.
In general, bright colors and color combinations are preferable to the more subtle and aesthetically pleasing. You can, however, make effective use of the "screen," that is, using a solid color, like deep blue, but reducing the tone in certain areas of the brochure. The same color then appears to be two or three different colors. Using a screen is more expensive than using one color, but less expensive than using two.
Some colors reproduce well, which is why you see them all the time. Blue is generally the best. Getting into pastels and light browns is great if it works, but disaster if it doesn't, so be very careful.
Try a "reverse." This is the technique of printing white (or whatever the color of your paper is) letters on a dark background. This also creates the illusion of more than one color.
To repeat, white space is precious. Margins can be used to frame islands of print. They should not be used for cramming in afterthought, diagrams, or symbols.
You can create imaginary "frames" around specific paragraphs in your brochure not only with white space, but also with "boxes" (lines around a paragraph), and the use of a reverse print or a screen to highlight specific items. Some words or paragraphs can be printed in bold or italic type, to set them off further.
Nothing turns a reader off faster than to be confronted with a wall of small print, called "gray area." Psychologically, gray areas are death. They say, "Don't read me." The voter won't read your brochure unless he wants to, so give him every incentive.
Use them. They create interest, and allow the voter to picture you as a member of the human race. Posed shots are OK if you look natural. Candid shots are always good, especially if they relate to a specific point in your brochure. The best photos are action shots which relate to the theme.
Quality counts for photos, too. If you don't have a good camera, borrow one, plus a photographer who knows what he's doing. Always use black-and white film, and never use Polaroid or insta-matic cameras.
Tell the voter who you are, in pictures and in words: your background, your qualification, and your political party. Some candidates for local non-partisan offices may choose to exclude their party affiliation from their brochure. However, your local or state party may have requirements to list your party affiliation if you are an endorsed Green candidate.
Stress the two or three most important issues in your campaign, and hit them hard -- explain the problem and the Green solution. It is usually a bad idea to go after your opponents in your brochure, unless you can cite chapter and verse and their offenses are truly horrible. If you do take this approach, set the relevant paragraphs apart in some way.
Staying in Control
Despite the overriding necessity of having your literature done professionally, this does not mean that its design and production are beyond your control. To the contrary, you can control it every step of the way, so that it looks and reads the way you want it. Remember that you are the candidate.
When dealing with a graphic designer (the graphics or layout person), prepare a rough sketch of what you have in mind. It doesn't matter how rough it is, the artist will be able to follow it and ask you questions on details. Artists appreciate this greatly; they hate to be given only a vague verbal notion of what is required, and then get yelled at when their product doesn't correspond to the client's ideas.
Think about what you want to say on each panel of the brochure. Suggest the placement of each item on each panel. Suggest the color scheme. Give the artist all the information you can.
When it comes to the actual writing (known as the “copy”), determine in advance how many words you can afford to write in each panel, and write to that limit. You can get a precise measure by finding someone else's brochure that has a design and typeface you find attractive, and literally count the number of words in a panel or paragraph. If it's 200, then you know whatever you want for the corresponding panel of your brochure can't go beyond 200 words. There's only one thing worse than having to cut copy after the brochure is designed, and that's to decide not to cut overly long copy and to cram it all in there anyway.
Before You Go To Press...
Make absolutely sure there are no spelling, grammatical, or typographic errors, and the copy is laid out straight on the page, and photos are cropped properly with no wavy edges. Ask the printer for a proof before the final brochure is run. Have multiple readers look it over. No matter how good the proof-reader, people miss typos.
Since every word counts, every word that is garbled will take away points in the mind of the voter, who expects you to be perfect. So be perfect, at least as far as the brochure is concerned.
This is a great way to get a lot of attention on a mass scale. In rural areas especially, one billboard can be a great way to get lots of exposure when it is not possible to use field canvassing or other personal approaches to find the out-of-reach voters. Billboards usually have the contact info at the bottom of the sign, so it is fairly easy to find out who owns the billboards and place a request. Billboards can be outrageously expensive, however, so if you use them, make sure they are worth it in terms of location, visibility, and message.
Location: Never rent billboard space without having driven by the location from as many angles as possible. Freeway locations are the best, followed by major city streets, preferably near stoplights. Not all billboard locations are necessarily good, so know what you're getting.
Visibility: Use big letters and highly contrasting colors in keeping with your campaign theme. A billboard will not always be aesthetically pleasing; if yours is, you may have done something wrong. To be sure, get someone else’s opinion.
Message: Keep it simple. No one stops his car in the middle of a freeway to read a billboard. "Elect Smith, For Assembly" would do just fine. A photo is OK, but not necessary.
Determine in advance whether or not your billboard will be lit up at night with flood lamps. If not, think twice before using it.
Bumper Stickers and Buttons
One of the first things many candidates do is to buy large quantities of bumper stickers and buttons. From a cold, hard, practical viewpoint, this is a mistake. People don't wear buttons except in crowds of people who are wearing the same button, and there are enough unused bumper stickers lying around to ensure a supply of paper for the next twenty years.
Give-Aways: Promotional items such as pencils, pens, rulers, cups, glasses, napkins, etc. with your name embossed on them are cute, but that's about all. If someone donates them, fine. Try to sell them, or give them away as prizes at a fundraising event.
Look for that Union Label
Try to keep it local
If not local, stay as close to home as possible (shipping costs)
Keep track of your signs
Reuse and recycle
Ask former candidates whom they used
Getting the materials into voters hands is critical. In addition to field strategies outlined in the Field Strategy chapter, you might consider using direct mail as part of your outreach methodology.
Direct mail is a good way to reach voters who may be inaccessible to precinct walkers due to location (large apartments with no public access, for instance), geography (sparsely populated regions where houses are far apart and walking is not feasible) and other factors. Direct mail is also a good way to reinforce your literature drop outreach, but be sure to mail a different piece of literature than you are walking with.
It is now relatively inexpensive to order four-color brochures and oversized postcards (see Materials section above). Postcards can be mailed in bulk at low cost as well, especially if you obtain a bulk permit or use a mailing service that has one. Figure out how much it will cost to print, prepare and send a mailing per piece, and consult your budget to see how many pieces you can send. The larger the print run, the lower the per piece cost is.
If you cannot afford to mail to every voter, focus on the voters who vote frequently and tend to support progressive campaigns, and on those areas in your district where the progressive/Green vote has been highest (see Targeting section under Field Strategy). You may want to mail to a specific group more than once, so consider who you want to reach with what message and how many times they will get it.
For issue specific outreach, ask your endorsers for permission to do a mailing to their lists. If you get a local environmental group to endorse you, for instance, ask to send a direct mail piece (with fundraising appeal) signed by the chapter leaders . Focus the letter or mail piece on the issues that are of interest to the group to which you are mailing. For example, if you are mailing to an area with lots of apartments, you could focus on rent control and other issues important to that demographic.
Another important voter population that should be considered for direct mailing is absentee voters. Absentee voters, voters who vote by mail instead of in person on election day, are a growing demographic. See the section on Absentee Voting in the next chapter for more on this.
Paid advertising is highly effective, reaching many voters who may not take the time to read your literature or listen to a phone banker’s pitch, so if it is at all feasible financially for your campaign, give it some careful consideration. See the section on Media below for ideas for free media. There are many types of advertisements that you can use to get the word out on your campaign.
TV: Cable access television can be a low cost option for media buys. In some communities, you can get a program on for free if a supporter is trained to use the station’s facilities. You will be amazed at how many people say they saw it. You can often get TV time on a local cable channel for a little more than you pay for radio ads. The issue with TV, of course, is production. If you have access to volunteers with some video experience, or can find a film student, you can get an ad produced for a reasonable price. If you go this route, it is important that you don’t overact. Act natural, and if possible, use some humor. The late Paul Wellstone won his first campaign for US Senate with low cost, low tech, hilarious commercials that endeared the late night TV viewers to him and won him significant votes. If you do pay for TV spots, you will need to consider
placement. What audience do you want to reach,, what do voters watch, and what is your budget?
Radio: Radio spots are another low cost option for reaching a wider audience than you can with other grassroots outreach methods. Again, rural areas often have very affordable rates. Choose your stations to find the voters most likely to respond to your ads: college stations (ad rates are usually very low for campus run stations), public radio (if they allow ads), progressive talk radio stations, and a variety of rock music stations. Again, production may be an issue, but there are people you can find fairly easily who can help you produce your ads for reasonable rates. Check around colleges, and ask your supporters. You will be surprised at the hobbies and skills people have.
Print media: Find out what publications are in your area and what their rates are. Then try to get as large an ad as possible. Keep the text to a minimum for maximum readability. Always include a clip out or other form to encourage your supporters to send money or sign up to volunteer. Ads in weekly papers can be cheaper than dailies, and tend to cater to a more targeted audience. Tailor your message to the readership and make sure you have someone proof read everything before it goes to print so you don’t place an ad full of typos (editors will usually NOT edit political ads).
Predictive dialing (Pre-recorded Phone Messages):
This is another relatively inexpensive way to reach hundreds of voters. Companies provide the technology to automatically dial hundreds of voters and leave a recorded message on their voicemail or answering machines. The messenger is important. It can be you, one of your supporters, or a high profile endorser that does the recorded message.
You must select the group of voters you want to reach, draft a script, recruit the messenger and do the recording. The company can then set up the message to go out within a few hours to reach hundreds of voters.
This can turn folks off, but is worth considering if you have the resources and a good spokesperson to do the talking. Often, presidents are used to do messages for Congressional races when the race is close and campaigns are pulling out all the stops to win.
This is an increasingly useful tool, especially in low budget campaigns. If at all possible, find someone who can do a basic website (the CCC has website templates available for download on its website). Post all of your outreach materials, positions, calendar of events and an online donation and volunteer form on your site, as well as press clippings, photos and other useful information.
Email is another cheap way to communicate. Get a volunteer to do a regular email update to your supporters to announce events, recent endorsements, links to recent media coverage and other interesting updates to keep folks informed.
This is critical in the days leading up to the election. Get teams of volunteers to organize
caravans to drive (or bike caravans to ride) through neighborhoods waving banners and basically making a scene. Folks on the street will be reminded to vote and be made aware of your campaign. This is a fun and low cost way to get attention for your campaign.
Campaign stunts: if you have creative and uninhibited volunteers, do street theater or demonstrations to create interest in your campaign. Be sure to contact the media, who tend to like offbeat and colorful antics to cover. Be aware, however, that the media will also enjoy the opportunity to show your wackiest supporters as typical, so be careful when planning publicity stunt events. (See Get Out The Vote for more on this topic.)
VIII. Debates and Forums
Debates and forums are a great way to get your message out and get public exposure. These events are free publicity for you, so make sure you develop a campaign calendar (see Getting Started above) to track when these events are happening and attend as many as you possibly can. Many political clubs have speaking events or debates prior to doing endorsements. Like the questionnaires, you should participate in all debates, no matter if you think you are going to win over the audience or not.
First and foremost, do your homework. Find out about the club or organization, and what their members tend to support and value. Also know your issues. You can never know everything about a subject. For instance, if the question or issue is medical marijuana, don’t just go up and talk about the Green Party platform on this issue. Do some research and find out what the local ordinance currently says, and what legislation is under consideration. Be prepared to speak knowledgeably about the current laws and the impact that changes in the legislation would have on the community.
Focus, and always listen to the questions and the answers of your opponents. It is tempting to be thinking about your response to the next question while your opponents are speaking, but listen to what they say, as you may have an opportunity to respond to their answers.
Always answer the question. You can move into your other points after doing so, but address the issue being asked first, or else you look like you are dodging the issue. The audience will notice.
Anticipate questions. Be ready to address criticisms about yourself or your campaign if you think these issues will be raised.
Compliment while you criticize. “While I do appreciate what my opponent has done on healthcare for seniors, I do have to disagree on the approach of providing care for elderly patients. I think it is highly preferable to find quality home care instead of…”
Do not interrupt either the moderators or other candidates when they are speaking. It makes you look boorish. Let your campaign or other persons intervene if the other speakers are going over time or are acting out. Do not take on the role of timekeeper or vibes watcher. Similarly, if you are attacked by your opponent, respond when you have your time to speak and only if it merits a response. Don’t get defensive.
Do not make it personal with your opponent. Criticize their record and their position, but
do not use personal attributes to bolster your case. It will make you look petty.
Avoid being repetitive. Especially if you are viewed as a specialized candidate running for an office that is broader than your direct experience. If you are a current rent board commissioner running for city council, for instance, talk about transportation, quality of life, and other issues besides housing issues to show breadth of experience and knowledge.
Use opening and closing remarks to your advantage. Address your strengths and perceived weaknesses.
* Getting invited: Many Green candidates reading this might be wondering how to get invited to a debate or forum, much less what to do once the candidate is speaking at one. The reality is, depending on the area and the host organization, Green candidates are often excluded from community forums or official debates. Conspiracy theories aside, many Green candidacies are seen as insignificant, not serious, and therefore, not necessary. Candidates can better their chances of being voluntarily included by establishing their campaign’s vitality and energy early on, as discussed earlier in this manual. Sometimes, the exclusion was inadvertent. If you are excluded from a debate, contact the organizers and ask for an invitation. This often results in an apology and an invitation. Sometimes, it was not an oversight. If they refuse, it may be time to consider other actions to make your point, such as picketing the event, conducting a campaign of letters to the editor, or getting arrested. In 2002, several Green gubernatorial candidates were excluded from official debates and were arrested trying either to attend or to participate. If your campaign is considering a more extreme route, please plan it out, and consult an attorney and the Coordinated Campaign Committee for additional advice.
IX. Absentee Voters:
Absentee voters are a growing population of voters. Many municipalities are encouraging voters to vote by mail as a way to lower the cost of administering elections and boost voter turn out. The ability to vote by mail in advance of the election and to not have to schedule a trip to the polls appeals to many busy voters as well. Therefore, more and more people are voting by mail instead of showing up at the polls on election day and it is essential to focus on reaching these voters.
The importance of doing a vote by mail campaign cannot be understated. In the San Francisco mayor’s race in 2003, for example, Green mayoral candidate Matt Gonzalez actually won the election day vote, but ultimately lost, as his opponent had banked over 60,000 vote-by-mail votes well in advance of election day.
Vote-by-mail campaigns are a sure way to make absolutely certain that your supporters vote, so the campaign does not have to worry about supporters forgetting to vote, or rainy weather or other unforeseen circumstances interfering with voter turn out on election day. Therefore, absentee voter strategies are essential to a winning campaign. In special elections or run-offs where turn out is traditionally lower, campaigns should use absentee voter outreach as a way to increase voter turnout by providing an easy way for voters to vote.
A few factors to consider about absentee voters:
They have a much higher tendency to vote
They tend to be older.
They vote sooner than the other voters and must be reached much earlier.
Reaching absentee voters is relatively simple. Direct mail followed by a phone call is usually the best way to reach these voters, since they may not be concentrated in a specific geographic area for precinct walking.
First, you need to find out who the absentee voters are. You should be able to get this info from the Elections Department. Then find out when the ballots are mailed. You should do your first mailings (persuasion) and phone calls (and canvassing if there are blocks of absentee voters close enough to walk to efficiently) well in advance of the date the ballots go out.
If you are doing an absentee ballot campaign to recruit more absentee voters (and you should if you have the resources), you need to encourage ALL of your supporters to register to vote by mail, including campaign staff and volunteers who will be very busy on election day. The Elections Department should have vote-by-mail applications. You can sometimes copy these forms (be sure to ask for specific requirements in your area, they may require you to use only their official forms) and distribute them to identified supporters.
Have your volunteers emphasize the significance of registering to vote by mail, reminding voters that they may be busy come election day and voting by mail enables them to get this task out of the way. Be sure to ask the voters to return the application for the ballots to the campaign (and you turn them in to the Elections Department), where this is allowed by local law. This way, you can track who your campaign recruited to vote by mail so your campaign can follow up to ensure that the voter gets their ballot and turns it in.
You should do the same voter identification that you do with the regular voters, but much sooner. When the ballots are mailed out, typically 30 days before the election, be sure to contact ALL of your identified supporters who are voting by mail and remind them to send their ballots in. After they vote, be sure to take the voters off your call list.
X. Field Strategy
How many votes do you need to win and how will you get them? First do the research about your district:
How many registered voters are in your district?
How many voters are likely to vote for you?
Where do they live?
How do you reach them?
Getting the data:
You can get information about voters from a variety of sources. Usually, the local Elections Department is a good place to start. However, if you want information that is
targeted, formatted for walking, phone banking, etc. you can purchase lists from vendors who specialize in this service. This can get pricey. A tech savvy volunteer can also be a great asset to help format information so that it is useful. Electronic data is a must!
Check with friendly campaigns and organizations in your area to see if they have current voter data that they would be willing to share.
Make nice with the local county clerk or other official who is responsible for keeping voter data. They can be very helpful and provide important information to your campaign at very little cost. Other information you should try to get from the Elections Department includes information from past elections and races similar to your current race. Find elections that included either Green or progressive candidates, so you can see how they fared and where their votes came from. This information will help you map out in which areas of your district the progressive voters are. You might also look at results for progressive ballot measures. The information will not include how a particular voter cast his ballot, but it is likely that you will see a pattern where the more progressive voters live and where your limited resources are best spent.
Voters are grouped in blocks called precincts. You can get voter information broken down to each individual precinct, so you can see how voters supported candidates and turned out to vote by precinct and determine your top 20 priority precincts to start with. Priority precincts tend to be contiguous.
Determining how many votes you need:
The candidate that turns out the most voters wins. It is that simple. Once you know how many voters there are in your district, determine how many you will need to win. To determine turn out, you can use this formula:
How many voters voted in a similar race
Divide this in half and add 1. This is the number you need to win.
Add a comfort margin to determine how many identified supporters you need.
Voter turnout is an important factor. This varies from election to election. If it is a presidential election year, voter turnout will be much higher (which can be both advantageous and disadvantageous for Green candidates). If it is an off-year, mid-year or special election, expect turnout to be lower.
Targeting likely voters:
Focus on those voters who are likely to vote for you. Start with Greens and other natural constituents. With electronic data, you can sort for a variety of factors (age, party (in some states), gender, voting frequency); here are some important demographics to consider:
Green and Decline to State voters in progressive areas (remember, you will need more than just Green voters)(where party registration is possible) are natural constituencies.
Lower income people and people of color tend to vote more progressively, although voter turnout in low-income areas tends to be low.
Renters also tend to vote more progressively, particularly if rent control or affordable
housing is an issue. Renters, however, are often hard to access via doorknocking.
Younger voters also tend to be more progressive, but again, turnout in this demographic is an issue.
Depending on the race, and the issues, seniors can be a very important demographic to reach, and they are the most likely voters to turn out.
Women are another category to target, especially if you are a woman running against male candidates.
Do not forgot those voters who are out at the polls consistently. Evaluate the voter lists from all elections, big and small. The names that appear on every list will be voting in your election. Make sure you talk to them in person.
Reaching Your Target Voters: Precinct Walking / Canvassing
Once you know who your voters are and where they live, you need to create a plan to reach them. A good grassroots campaign includes the following elements:
Door to door field canvassing to identify supporters and persuade swing voters
Phone canvassing to identify support
Distribution of yard signs and window signs
Tabling and voter registration throughout your district, focused on your areas of support
Direct mail to hard to reach constituencies, such as apartment dwellers in large buildings.
Your goal is to reach as many potential voters as possible and to identify your supporters. Walk and call lists should include check boxes for volunteers to indicate what kind of support the candidate has. (See the Canvassing section below for more details).
If the person is a supporter, they should be asked if they would like to volunteer, donate, take a yard sign, come to an event, or take some literature for their friends.
Once you have your identified supporters, you have created your list for Get Out the Vote (GOTV) and can concentrate on making sure your base supporters turn out on election day. Secondarily, try to persuade the undecided voters to support you.
Direct mail is best used for fundraising in your core support areas (Greens, other identifiable progressives), and for persuading undecided (and hard to reach) voters. If possible, you should mail to every voter in your district. If funds are limited, focus on frequent voters in progressive areas first (See Getting Your Message Out above for more info).
Going alone, or with friends
Canvassing is when people go door-to-door to solicit contributions or support. While an experienced canvasser's preference to work independently should be respected, canvassing is ideally done by groups of at least two. This ensures the canvassers’ safety and keeps them motivated longer. In towns or cities, canvassing in pairs by taking opposite sides of a street can be efficient for covering ground.
The following materials should be taken along when canvassing:
Maps of the streets to be covered
Voter lists of the streets to be covered
Campaign pins, magnets, etc.
Campaign and Green Party sign-up sheets
Voter registration cards (where legal)
Plastic sheet (or extra large, clear plastic bag) in case of rain
The most important things to wear are a campaign button and a smile. Green is a nice color if it suits you. Your personal appearance reflects on the campaign in the eyes of the people you are soliciting.
Before going out, it may be helpful to do some role-playing with a veteran canvasser. Be sure to read through the campaign flyer before heading out, to put the salient points of the campaign at the front of your mind. Pair new canvassers with those more experienced.
You can do a few doors together, until the newer canvasser feels comfortable doing it on her own.
The Greens run to win!
All Green campaigns, no matter how small their chances may seem to be, are run for the sake of putting a Green in office. While spreading the message of the candidate’s issues is an integral part of the campaign, it is important to establish in the public mind that the Greens are a serious political entity, with a legitimate and much needed political message.
Talking to residents: A sample script
First stage: Introduction. “Hi, I’m Sam I Am. I’m campaigning for So Andso of the Green Party. So is concerned about the [environment, economy, ?] in our community. Some of the issues s/he is working on are [2 or 3 simply stated issues].
What are the issues you’re concerned about in this election?”
Second stage: As appropriate, either respond to the person’s concern with the candidate’s position, mention that we’re campaigning to win, mention that we believe in and are practicing grassroots democracy, or give an example of one of the candidate’s positions, and ask how the person feels about that.
Third stage: Ask a few questions that will give you an idea of how the person will vote.
It is important to get an accurate assessment, so word the questions so that “I disagree with that position” is a possible response.
For example, ask “Do you think you’ll vote for So Andso?” or “What do you think of So Andso as a candidate? Do you think you would vote for him/her?”
Fourth stage (if supportive): Ask if this person would like to receive information from the Green Party local or state party, and ask if he would be willing to help out with the campaign! Offer him the sign-up sheets as you say this, so he knows it is easy to say yes.
Fifth: Make sure the person is registered to vote in the district. If not, leave a voter registration form, and if it is true in your state, remind him (casually) that he can register as a Green. You can help him to understand how to fill out the card if you familiarize yourself with it in advance. Reassure the person that the optional phone number box is used only by the Registrar of Voters, and only if the form is illegible, so it’s best for him to fill it in. If possible and legal, keep the completed form so the campaign can turn it in to the registrar itself. Add the new registrant to the voter list. Note: check state law for local requirements for and limitations on registering voters. Some states require the newly registered voter to mail in the form themselves, for example. If that is the case, provide a stamp.
Finally, thank the person for their time!!! Remind him of the website and leave a pamphlet with them.
Objection to a position of the candidate
If someone has an objection to just one of the candidate’s positions, you can say, “I personally don’t agree with [insert a position here, or say “all the details”], either, but I’m going to vote for him/her. S/he is the only candidate who represents fundamental change. S/he is the best candidate overall.”
Rating the voter
After you are out of sight of the house (so the person doesn’t feel spied upon) give a rating next to the person’s name on the voting list:
1 – Strongly supports the candidate
2 – Leaning toward the candidate
3 – Undecided/ no clear indication given
4 – Leans against the candidate
5 – Strongly opposed
Keep the visit short
Ideally, only 2-5 minutes should be spent with any one person. If the conversation continues, feel free to say apologetically, “I have so many more houses to visit. I really need to get going now. I’ve enjoyed talking to you.”
Take breaks, have fun
Don’t work too hard. Take snack breaks to keep up your energy. Remember that every
person you meet could become a friend; approach each new house with optimism. If your enthusiasm runs out, call it a day.
Be friendly, no matter what
The impression the canvasser gives will make a big difference in how people vote. Don’t try to change anyone’s mind by arguing; if someone rubs you the wrong way, keep the visit short and sweet, and write it off as a personal victory if you don’t give them cause to feel unimpressed with you. We need to show people that we are as respectful of their positions as we hope they will be of ours, and we know that overall support will be high, so we can afford to let a few people unload.
Every other week or so, you should get together with others from the campaign crew, just for fun. This is partly practical: the Green Party is a consensus-based organization, and functions best when everyone knows each other as a human being. But mostly, it’s because your fellow Greens are likely to have a lot in common with you, and this life only happens once. Enjoy it!!
XI. "Get Out The Vote": The Art of GOTV
GOTV is the final phase of all the work you’ve been doing for what only seems like the last ten years. It puts all the pieces together and involves everyone connected to the campaign. It’s the final exam. In close races, the campaign with the best GOTV program will win. Repeat: GOTV can increase your percentage by 10%, GOTV starts the day you decide to run, GOTV wins campaigns.
From the very beginning, ask each volunteer you recruit to clear their calendar for Election Day, even if Election Day is a year away. Periodically remind folks that Election Day is the day you need them most. Ask your workers to take the day off; if you can, pay those that are sacrificing a day’s pay. Get your volunteers absentee ballots so they don’t have to “take a break” on Election Day.
Elements of GOTV: Two weeks out and counting
Strategy: By now, you should have a pretty good idea of where your campaign is strong, where it is not and where there are still many undecided voters. You and your staff will have to make a judgment call at this point. How many of those undecided voters do you need to win? If it’s 50% or more, you should focus GOTV in high undecided areas; if you’re solid, work your base.
Field: Hit the streets everyday. Have the candidate work your most critical precincts with volunteers, going door to door and possibly visiting local stores and merchants that are known to be supportive. Make sure those lawn and poll signs are up.
One effective tactic is the “neighborhood blitz”. It is designed to increase visibility, media coverage and momentum, and is most effective in high-density areas. Here’s a rough outline:
1. Target a precinct you know to be highly favorable – inform supporters in the neighborhood that you would appreciate it if they could “just happen” to be home during the blitz.
2. Contact every media person on your list – TV in particular - and invite them to come along for your “neighborhood walk” or whatever you decide to call it. Promise them anything: exclusive interviews, photos, a chance to talk to “real voters”, let them know this is an easy story with good visuals they won’t want to miss. If you have local celebrities who have agreed to come along, include this information. Work hard to get the press there.
3. Assemble a team of volunteers – using volunteers from as wide a range of demographics as possible – and ask them to join the effort.
4. If you’re in an urban area where the use of “sound trucks” is normal and acceptable, hook up a sound mobile.
5. Split your volunteers up into teams of four each, so that two people can work together knocking on doors on both sides of a given street. Female/male teams seem to work best as they reduce possible “door fright”. The teams should be distributing literature, getting up lawn signs, and asking if the voters they are speaking with have any questions or would like to meet the candidate.
6. The candidate, hopefully with media in tow, should work an area where there are at least a few known supporters for the first part of the blitz. After a number of people who would like to meet the candidate have been identified, hustle on over.
You are essentially creating a campaign rally that seems spontaneous. Use your imagination; think visually. Bring along kids, bring balloons, and bring a damn polar bear if you can find one. It takes planning and work, but at the very least your campaign will have heightened visibility, gotten press coverage, created a little excitement and, maybe most importantly, gotten your volunteers and supporters even more pumped up.
Swing areas should get one last lit(erature) drop. Send teams of volunteers through precincts with a piece designed to just stick in the door. This is much more cost effective than a mailing. Last minute persuasion pieces should include information about how you differ from your opponent on key issues. If your opponent puts out an ugly “slam” piece on you in the last weeks, be prepared to pull an all-nighter to put out a positive response piece.
If your campaign is in an urban area with public transit, get some volunteers in subway stations and buses to hand out lit during rush hours. Mornings are best; folks going home are often a little tired and grumpy.
Phone: If you did voter ID phone banking, you should have a solid list of voters who are supporting you or leaning towards voting for you. These voters should be called on Election Day and reminded to vote.
Undecided voters should get one last persuasion call. If there is time, the candidate should make some of these calls.
If you are planning on using predictive dialing (discussed in the media section of this manual), this would be a good time to do so.
Media: Make sure you are everywhere the media is in the weeks leading up to the election, see the section on Media in the next chapter for more information. Forums and events are great, but also try to create your own media events. Don’t overlook letters to the editor in support of the campaign, call ins to radio shows, press advisories and other outreach to the press.
Pending funds, try to have some last minute media buys. As discussed in the Paid Advertising portion of Getting Your Message Out section earlier in the manual, radio spots can be relatively inexpensive to produce and purchase, depending on your market. Cable TV can also be effective, but production is often an issue with grassroots campaigns. If you have someone with TV production skills, however, this can be a very effective last minute appeal.
Visibility: Human billboarding (a group of supporters – often high school or college students – hold up pre-made or hand drawn campaign signs in high visibility areas) and other public demonstrations of support are good indicators of grassroots support. Identify teams of volunteers who can occupy busy street corners, transit stops, and other areas with heavy foot traffic to carry signs and banners and get voters’ attention. Caravans of decorated cars and trucks moving slowly through main streets with banners and supporters with bullhorns also create attention. Identify high traffic areas that jam up during rush hour; these are great locations. In rural areas, ask farmer supporters to allow their barn sides to serve as temporary campaign billboards.
Signs: Put out all of your signs in as many places as possible. Put your signs where they can be easily seen on busy streets and thorough fares. Hang banners if possible.
Events: Track every important event happening in the days leading up to the election and make sure you and your campaign are at as many functions as possible.
Pre-Election Sunday and Monday and Election Day
This is where you win or lose a tight election. This is why you’ve been begging volunteers to work on election day. Let’s take it by the numbers:
With the exception of California, campaigns are permitted to have “poll workers” - people who hand out palms cards and deliver a brief verbal message to voters as they enter the polls. The Democrats and Republicans have been doing this since the dawn of time, and they do it because it works. It works even better for Green Party candidates! Many candidates after Election Day look at result numbers by precinct and can pick out where their poll workers were. A good poll worker can up the Green vote by 20%.
That’s your election. Take your E-Day operation very, very seriously.
Polls tend to open between 6-7 a.m. and close at 8. This will vary by state or county. You will want to have every poll covered all day, if possible. If you cannot manage to do so, remember these facts and operate accordingly:
Voters arrive in “waves”. Many voters and older folks vote early, before they go to work, from the poll opening to 9 a.m. The rate tends to slow down until there is a slight bump at lunchtime, from approximately 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The majority of voters, however, will not show up to vote until between 3 p.m. and closing.
Most campaigns schedule poll workers in shifts, typically from opening until 11 a.m. or noon, noon until 3 or 4 p.m., and the final shift until poll closing. As early in the campaign as possible, have volunteers sign up for shifts. Make a huge board in your HQ with every poll and every shift; you want to see that board as full as possible.
Training Poll Workers
Poll working is not unlike canvassing, but it is a lot easier because the voters come to you. It is likely there will be poll workers from other parties working with you; don’t be alarmed, the camaraderie of election day overrides political differences, and you may end up chatting away sociably with these folks during slow periods and probably find that except for disagreeing with them on every political issue imaginable, you have a lot in common. You care.
Generally, you will only have a split second to speak to a voter as she walks into the polls. Very, very few voters will want to talk about issues or spend time in discussion. Your job is to give the voter a palm card (example included later in the manual) and say “I hope you’ll support Allison Moss” or “Allison Moss will fight to end suburban sprawl”. Say the candidate’s name loudly and clearly. Be assertive, but not aggressive, and make sure they get a palm card.
Legal Note: at many polling places, poll workers must stay 100 feet away from the entrance, even if a public sidewalk is within that distance. This is usually well marked with a placard. Check with your local Elections Department for restriction for poll workers in your area. Even if they are obeying the laws, your poll workers may be asked to leave by the voting officials. Have a plan in place (like retreating to the sidewalk or switching precincts) and contact information for the campaign, so that the poll workers know what to do if they are challenged.
Last Minute Preparations
Sunday night have every volunteer who can make it, especially poll workers, show up for a rally/meeting/training session. It is a good time to do some poll worker role playing sessions and to distribute palm cards and poll signs. Double check that everyone knows which poll they are working and when, and that they have the campaign contact numbers they need for election day. Make sure the people who are opening polls have poll signs, tape, and whatever else they may need.
You want a good turnout Sunday, because poll workers who can’t make it have to have material distributed to them at home on Monday.
Although communications with your staff and volunteers these days is easier because of cell phones, you will still need circuit riders. Circuit riders are the people who spend the day going from poll to poll in a circuit. It’s crucial for several reasons:
1. Circuit riders can check and make sure the polls are covered and things are running smoothly. They can also get the number of people who have already voted (just ask the Judge of Elections or someone in charge of the precinct or ward) so that phone banking and door knocking can be concentrated on the areas that need it.
2. Circuit riders distribute coffee, snacks, lunch, good cheer and give the poll workers a sense that the campaign cares about them.
3. Circuit riders can pick up voters who have requested rides to the polls.
4. Circuit riders can do a swing with the candidate during slow voting periods for morale purposes. Otherwise the candidate should stay at the highest priority poll (or two) all day. It is not a good idea for the candidate to be wasting time on the road too much on election day.
The number of circuit riders you will need depends on the number of polls each has to cover. It is important that the circuit rider makes several runs through all the polls prior to election day. You will want to factor in things like rush hour and figure out in advance how to get the most accomplished in the least time.
It is a good idea to have a few reserves at HQ in the case of missing poll workers. If need be, pull a volunteer off the phones.
All your workers should dress neatly but comfortably and be sure to wear comfy shoes. Make sure your workers are prepared for inclement weather. Some poll workers bring lawn chairs (there can be long slow stretches).
Miscellaneous Poll Worker Info
Generally speaking, especially in even year elections, voters know whom they plan to vote for at the top of the ticket. Most voters, however, probably do not even know the name of their state representatives and other “minor” offices. This is a major reason poll working is effective.
In elections with high voter turnout, voters will have to spend some time waiting in line to vote (especially in the evening). Depending on what your local laws allow, this could give your poll workers a chance to actually do some persuasion. People standing in line are generally glad to listen to what you have to say .
If your circuit riders cannot do it, identify a few volunteers to help drive voters, including seniors or handicapped folks who have asked for a ride when canvassed or phone banked, to the polls. Have teams of people ready to staff the phone banks to call all of the identified supporters to make sure they remember to vote. Most of your volunteers should be out on the streets, doing visibility or watching the polls.
Volunteers can “poll watch” by going to each polling location and crossing off the names on your supporter lists of those who have already voted. Poll watchers can then go and bug the supporters who have not voted yet. This is lovingly called “Knock and Drag”, out of earshot of voters. A poll watcher inside the poll is not able to hand out lit or otherwise campaign, and in most states, anyone inside the poll who is not there to vote has to get a state “poll watcher” certificate.
When GOTV calls are made, people will tell you if they have already voted. They may lie, but many campaigns do not have the resources to actually have a volunteer inside and outside the poll.
The Palm Card
In most areas, about two weeks to ten days before the election, you can get a sample ballot at your county courthouse. The sample ballot is a poster-sized piece of paper that is an exact replica of what the voters will be looking at in the voting booth.
Creating a palm card is easy to make (see Materials section above). You can use a mock up of the actual ballot and put your candidate’s name and the office being contested, draw in a check mark on your candidate’s name, add a photo if you like and repeat the candidate’s name and office sought in a large font below.
Visibility: If you have all your polls covered, circuit riders, and phone volunteers in place and still have person power to draw on, identify the key places you want visibility teams to staff. Teams should have fliers and signs. Ideally, you will have these locations staffed Monday morning and evening, and Tuesday all day, up to the times the polls close.
Volunteers should have information for last minute voters, like locations of the neighborhood polling place. Visibility teams should do caravans during busy morning and evening commutes.
HQ ON ELECTION DAY
Your campaign manager needs to spend most of election day in headquarters tracking information – in particular, turnout. As the day moves on and turnout data accumulates, the campaign manager directs resources to where they are needed. If you have a precinct with good support and low turnout, your phoners switch to calling voters in that area. If your identified voters are not turning out, send teams to knock on their doors and offer a ride to the polls. If a poll is not being covered, get someone there.
The candidate should plan on spending most of the day at the most critical polls – those with the most undecided and swing voters. Candidates often want to move around, and this is fine during the “slow” hours, but from opening to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to closing, keep your candidate where he can swing the most votes.
No matter what the projected outcome, plan a victory party to thank your supporters and volunteers. Contact the press to make sure they know where you will be on election night. Distribute a phone number (someone's cell phone if necessary) where the candidate can be reached for comment. Make sure there is food and beverages for all of your hard working supporters. Start the party after the polls close - everyone should be working up to the last minute.
XII. Working With the Media
The importance of media coverage in any campaign cannot be overstated. Even in small districts, where it is possible to approach every constituent directly, a mention in the press can lend credibility to your campaign. But getting the media to cover a Green candidacy can sometimes be a challenge, unless the campaign crew understands how to make coverage happen.
The First Principle (or in media speak, the Bottom Line) in working with the media is this: You take the news to the reporter, who then covers it by printing your article, filming your event, or pointing a camera in your general direction. Take it on a silver platter, or at least on a vibrantly colored paper plate. More often than not, the reporter will not cover it, but try to put a lid on it. So take it again. Serve it up repeatedly. If they bite the first time around, dress up and redeliver the leftovers.
If this sounds more like the Joy of Cooking than campaign advice, here is a translation into practical steps you can take to increase your likelihood of getting media coverage.
Press Releases: First, assume every reporter is lazy. Write thoroughly-edited, engaging press releases, and send them to every media outlet you can find. Pretend you are the reporter: write up your own news story the way you would like it to appear in print - with one caveat: keep it short. One single-spaced page is the limit. Include quotes from supporters, and be sure to include their (and your!) contact information for verification purposes. Include contact information for your opponent. (This will make the reporter’s job easier, which will increase your chances of getting into print. It will also establish your credibility in the reporter’s mind.)
Make sure that every press release is followed by a phone call (“Hi, just wondering if you needed any more information?”) Send follow-up stories every time a press release gets run. Send photos and other visuals, no matter how much you hate seeing yourself in them.
Using hooks can increase your chances of getting coverage. Try creating a dramatic
human interest angle. Use the classic hero/villain/conflict/resolution model (you, of course, have the solution, whether or not you are cast as the hero.) Add a local aspect to a nationally breaking story. Refer to an upcoming event, especially if it has some local significance. Highlight unlikely alliances (the “strange bedfellows” scenario).
Getting Media Coverage: For printed media, there are several options to pursue. Issue frequent news releases, if only to make sure your name is mentioned in articles that stem from your opponents‚ news releases. Know which reporter is assigned to your campaign or race (This can change at any point during the campaign. Odious though it may be, subscribe to every local paper so you can keep track of who is where and when.)
Interviews and Editorial Boards: You can call the paper to set up interviews (it works sometimes...) or to request an editorial board visit. The latter is somewhat less intimidating than a visit to the Grand Inquisitor, but still bring along a witness (seriously!) One candidate in a statewide race in Texas managed to get positive coverage across the state by calling the local press in every county, and arranging interviews (only in the incumbent’s hometown was he denied an interview). Unlike widely circulated, corporate-owned media, local papers are usually happy to cover an underdog’s campaign.
The Opinion Page: Remember, though, that after the front page, the most well-read page of any newspaper is the editorial/opinion page. Submit op-eds or opinion articles and write Letters to the Editor on pertinent topics. Inform the opinion page editors of your desire to write on a certain topic, because they often want to stick to a theme. Write letters to the editor, frequently. Ask your supporters to write letters. Try different approaches; the one person in charge of selecting letters for print may have a preference for challenging letters, for poetic speech, or snappiness. No matter how discouraged you get, never ever assume you will not get printed, so be careful of what you say.
Make Your Own News: Try to lure reporters out of their newsrooms by staging fun, theatrical or thematic events. Getting a panel of interviewees together at City Hall for a press conference is more likely to attract coverage than if you stand alone in your front yard. Look for coalition partners, fellow activists, and people with relevant expertise to join you. Use the same dramatic ploys (conflict, local angle, etc.) as for getting into print. If you want to curry favor, tip reporters off even to stories that have nothing to do with you. Naturally, the media will only know of your event if you inform them of it by means of phone calls, emails and any backup system you can devise. The best way to ensure media coverage is first to call the reporter you know will come, then call the others to say So-and-So from their competitor will be there.
Interviews: When being interviewed, first and foremost: Be Yourself! Don’t try to self-aggrandize; most often the incumbent will fall into that trap, and modest you will look good by comparison. Be calm and reasonable, but straightforward. Don’t temporize, dissemble, or use arcane verbiage (in other words, use normal, everyday language). The average sound byte is now 7.3 seconds (who measured that?) so have a very succinct main point, and repeat it every chance you get. Respond with complete thoughts, not just a few words. You can always honestly answer “I don’t know” (and you should do so rather than try to BS), but never, ever say “no comment”. Be prepared to turn any off-the- wall question back to your main message, and to keep yourself off the defensive without appearing to be on the offensive. Don’t worry; it’s possible. Just focus on why you’re running, that you are the passionate voice of the voiceless, that you have a dream ... And if you’ve got all that down, set it out there with a sense of humor. People pay attention when you can make them laugh.
After formal news conferences, you can expect to be asked about your major concerns, why anyone should agree with you or even care, what impact your plans will have on the average taxpayer’s pocketbook, and for additional comments. Be ready. Volunteer your campaign’s website and phone number, if the reporter forgets to ask.
Follow up any interviews with letters of thanks, and with more op-eds, letters to the editor, press releases, ad nauseum.
Prioritize: If you have to choose between all this attention to media and canvassing, consider the size of your district: if you can meet most or all of the voters in person, media plays a backup role. Local campaigns should emphasize direct contact. Larger races, including local campaigns in large districts, should use the media as an essential part of their strategy.
Free Media: There are, fortunately, media outlets available for which you do not have to succor anybody (See the media subsection in the Getting Your Message Out section above). Cable access television gives everyone airtime, within certain guidelines. Get a relaxed, pleasant friend to interview you for an hour, and distribute it to every cable outlet you can find. Make sure your credentials, no matter how irrelevant, get frequent mention. Do not digress; script questions that cut to the chase. Make sure you do 95% of the talking, but don’t aggressively cut off your interviewer (hence the need for an interviewer who has no tendency to ramble).
Call-in TV and radio shows are incredibly popular, and even adversarial interviewers can get you exposure (though if you ruffle their feathers, they have the advantage of being able to disparage you on future shows, when you are not there to defend yourself). You can avoid awkward slips by returning to your central theme whenever words escape you; practice by relating every news item you see to your campaign platform (if restoring democracy is an issue in your campaign, this will be regrettably easy).
Name recognition is vitally important; even if people loved what they heard you say on that talk show last Friday, they have to be able to identify you among the list of candidates when they enter the polling booth.
Media Advice from John Nichols, Writer for The Nation
At the local level, Greens are most likely to earn relatively equal coverage. No one should be surprised that, with better coverage has come a better record of electoral success. However, many Greens running at the local level fall into traps that undermine their candidacies. They forget that the point is not to get ink, but to get the right kind of ink. The important thing to remember is that you are not merely seeking coverage, you are seeking coverage that connects on intellectual and emotion levels with the people who will be voting.
So what should Green (or other alternative parties) do to improve coverage of their campaigns? Here are some tips:
1.) Recognize that most Americans are not interested in party building. Time spent talking about building an alternative to the Democrats and Republicans is generally wasted. Stories about partying building, "creating an alternative" and long-term strategies may win a few recruits, but they don't win many votes. The vast majority of voters live in the political moment -- usually the current election -- and the best coverage you can get is that which shows you as a relevant player in the moment. Never, ever, fall into the trap of saying that you are running an "educational campaign" or that you are seeking office in order to build the Green Party. Voters may be impressed with your commitment and resolve but, for the most part they will vote for candidates and parties they think can win the current election.
Remember: The best story about party building is the one that says the party is essentially built and that Greens are successfully competing with the other parties.
2.) Make it clear that you are running for the office you are seeking, not the presidency. When talking with reporters, candidates often make the mistake of detailing the whole party agenda -- especially on national and international issues -- and speaking in only passing terms about the office they are seeking and what they could do if elected to it. There is nothing wrong with saying that you are a Green and explaining what that means ideologically and politically, but your primary focus needs to remain on the race you are running. While reporters might be delighted to talk with you about international affairs, and might even produce sympathetic reports on the conversation, voters get turned off by candidates who do not seem to be excited about the job they are seeking.
3.) Have a clear agenda. Conversations with reporters should not be defined solely by the questions of the journalists. As a candidate, you should have a well-thought and well defined themes that you come back to again and again. Many times, new candidates have great conversations with reporters and those conversations turn into pleasant feature stories. But the point of the candidacy is never communicated. You don't have to speak in vapid soundbites. But you should be able to give a concise summary of your candidacy -- why you are running for the specific office you are seeking, what you want to accomplish in that office and how you will succeed in doing that -- in about two minutes. And if the interviewer doesn't seem to get it, you should be more than willing to repeat that summary. Especially at the local level, you may be able to define the debate in your contest.
4.) Remember that the reporter you are talking to is not "the media." Reporters are generally underpaid and overworked men and women who are assigned to cover two, three or even four stories in a day. They don't want to be unfair to you. But they don't have a lot of time to study up on you or your race. When you are dealing with reporters, treat them with respect but also recognize that you will probably have to walk them through the story. This is actually to your advantage. When a reporter calls to talk about the contest you are running in, don't just talk about yourself or your ideas. Scope out the race, respectfully review the other candidates and then explain why you feel that you're best candidate. Don't just demand coverage; be a resource for the reporter. Provide useful information in a relatively unbiased manner. Ideally, the reporter will come to see you as a reliable source that he or she can come back to again and again for information and even story ideas.
5.) Be creative. Reporters, especially broadcast reporters, want a good story. So give it to
them. Don't just call a press conference to talk about what you think. Find creative ways to illustrate the issues you are working on. Let's say you are trying to illustrate the damage done to a particular neighborhood by cuts in health care funding that have been supported by your opponent. Instead of simply holding a press conference, why not invite the press to go along with you as you survey residents of the neighborhood to talk about gaps in health care coverage. If you are talking about a central-city grocery store that charges far higher prices than suburban stores, why not set a table up in front of the central-city store with cartons of milk, jars of peanut butter, loaves of bread and other items priced at the levels they are in the suburbs. And if the store manager comes out and tells you to leave, be sure the cameras are there when it happens.
6.) Be flexible. Don't be so "on message" that you miss the twists and turns of the debate. If a new issue arises, be the first candidate to develop a response to it. Let reporters, and ultimately voters, know that you are on top of what is happening and that you have ideas about what needs to be done. The essential element here is that candidates and their supporters need to be serious consumers of media. You need to read all the papers, listen to radio and television reports, attend meetings and generally be ahead of the curve.
7.) Be professional. Don't reinforce silly stereotypes about the Greens. Inept reporters often go for cliches. Don't give them the ammunition by dressing, talking or otherwise acting in ways that make cheap shots easy. Think in advance about the image you want to present. This does not mean that you have to wear a suit to every event. But it does mean that you should always come off as crisp, smart and ready to hold the office you are seeking. The media introduces you to voters, and often that media introduction is all that voters have to go on. Make sure that the impression that is created is the one you want to present.
8.) Get time on your side. News cycles can work for or against you. Some days are guaranteed to be busy news days, and you'll have a hard time getting covered then. Other days are usually slower, and they provide you with an opening you should seize. Don't hold a press event on a busy Tuesday afternoon. Wait until Saturday or Sunday. The Sunday newspaper is usually the best read of the week, if you hold a high-profile event and get a story on the Sunday pages you will maximize attention to your candidacy. Also, Sundays are very slow news days. Hold a press conference or event Sunday afternoon.
Often, your event will be the only "news" of the day, and it will be well covered on the Sunday night TV news shows (the best watched of the week) and in the Monday morning paper. One other note in this area: At the start of your campaign, learn what the deadlines are for all the news departments in your area and find our when newsrooms are staffed.
Don't hold events when it is too late for them to be covered or, worse yet, when there is no one on duty to cover them.
9.) If you feel you have been covered unfairly, or that your campaign is being neglected, take a deep breath. Don't call reporters and editors when you are mad. Operate on the assumption that mistakes are being made, rather than that you are a victim of bias. There is no question that bias exists, and you may be a victim of it. But mistake happen, as well.
Don't poison the working relationship with people who are covering your campaign unless it is clear that they have already poisoned it. Instead of making accusations, ask questions. See if there is something you are doing wrong, or if there is something that the
reporter does not understand. If it is clear that a publication is not covering you fairly, have your reporters start writing letters to the editor. Newspaper editors don't want you to know this, but if they get three or four genuine letters expressing concern about them failing to cover a story -- or a candidate -- they get scared. And if one publication or broadcast outlet fails you, don't give up.
Keep working every angle with other publications and broadcast outlets. Remember, in addition to the dominant daily newspaper in most markets, there are usually labor and community publications, and even in some cases church bulletins, that are well read and that often serve as better vehicles for getting your message out.
10.) Become a media reformer. Recognize that many of the worst flaws in major media today result from political decisions made in Washington by Congress and the FCC. Historically, these decisions have been made in our name but without our informed consent. The recent fight over the FCC's attempt to overturn existing limits on media monopoly has brought millions of Americans into the debate. The Greens have been in the forefront of this and other media reform fights, and they need to remain there. The best way to assure that the Greens and other third parties get fair coverage is by assuring that federal rules and regulations encourage media diversity, competition and localism.
Appendix : Sample Campaign Staff:
These people work directly with the candidate and, in a well-funded campaign, should be paid staff or consultants. In smaller campaigns, many of these roles may be consolidated in one or more persons.
The CM is the candidate’s right hand and supervises all aspects of the campaign: strategic planning, scheduling, fundraising, communications, outreach, research, and the recruiting, training and deployment of volunteers. The ideal CM has lots of campaign experience and extensive knowledge of the community and current issues; can empower people but also be a decisive leader; and has a close rapport, preferably a long personal history, with the candidate. A large campaign might have deputy campaign managers in charge of certain operations or certain geographic areas.
This is not the same as the TREASURER. The fundraising coordinator is responsible for recruiting supporters to host house parties (a.k.a. meet’n’greets or receptions); identifying potential major donors; drafting fundraising letters and preparing mailings; training volunteers to solicit donations through phonebanking, canvassing and direct appeals at house parties; and sending timely thank-you notes (signed by the candidate) to every contributor. The ideal fundraising coordinator has professional-grade communications skills and experience with political fundraising or nonprofit fundraising, but a background in sales or marketing is helpful too.
The materials coordinator is responsible for the design, content and production of campaign literature, ads, signs, banners and “collateral” (buttons, bumper stickers and other trinkets). This includes working with writers, editors and graphic designers — and with commerical printers and other vendors. In consultation with the SCHEDULER and the TREASURER, the materials coordinator has to determine how many leaflets, buttons, etc., will be needed each week and when they will need to be ordered, and prioritize expenses within budget constraints. The ideal materials coordinator has a background in print media and some experience procuring print jobs, managing a budget, and doing fieldwork for a campaign of comparable size. (Also, if there’s no campaign headquarters, it’s usually the materials coordinator who ends up stashing 500 yard signs and 20,000 leaflets in the living room.)
The press secretary is responsible for writing and issuing press releases and following up with media contacts to ensure press coverage; answering questions from reporters and arranging for reporters to talk to the candidate; arranging for the candidate to meet with local editorial boards for endorsement interviews; monitoring press coverage and complaining about unfair or inadequate coverage; drafting letters to the editor and recruiting supporters to submit them; planning press conferences, rallies, photo opportunities and other publicity stunts; and maintaining current media kits, both in print and online. The ideal press secretary has experience writing for publication, promoting events and news stories, working in a newsroom and composing photo and video shots.
The scheduler works closely with the candidate to plan campaign activities and the candidate’s personal schedule for each day, usually one week at a time, and to identify public meetings and community events the candidate should attend. It is the scheduler’s responsibility to let the VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR know what personnel will be needed when. The ideal scheduler has detailed knowledge of the community (because it’s important to have a realistic sense of travel times) and of the candidate’s personal habits (most candidates like to chat with lots of people and have trouble sticking to a schedule). It’s also very helpful to be able to check e-mail every morning and evening.
Some candidates write their own speeches, but there’s nothing wrong with using a professional writer to help draft and refine the basic stump speech and targeted remarks for specific events. The ideal speechwriter has experience editing or ghostwriting and can help the candidate sound the desired notesin his or her own voice; it’s also helpful if the speechwriter, or another consultant, has experience making speeches (actors, schoolteachers and litigators count) and can critique rehearsals and serve as a forensics coach. The speechwriter must work closely with RESEARCHERS and the PRESS SECRETARY.
These people — whether paid or not — report to the CAMPAIGN MANAGER and supervise volunteers.
In a statewide race, the person in charge of “advance” work is the candidate’s travel agent, reconnaissance scout and stage manager. The advance team scopes out venues for public appearances; mobilizes local supporters to make sure there’s a crowd; helps the PRESS SECRETARY work with the local media; and gets the candidate “on the ground” on time.
FIELD CREW LEADERS
Every group of volunteers assigned to go canvassing, staff a table at a community event, or assist the host of a house party should be supervised by an experienced volunteer who can provide training and make sure all the necessary resources are in place — enough materials and enough trained help. In a jurisdiction with a big population or a big geographic area, it may be necessary to have several canvassing crew leaders, several tabling crew leaders and several house party crew leaders — because the campaign will need to be able to canvass several neighborhoods at once and cover several events at once, and must be flexible enough to have house parties at the convenience of the people who host them. After every event or canvassing tour, the crew leader should report to the CM or some other designated person within 24 hours so the appropriate information can be forwarded to the VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR, FUNDRAISING COORDINATOR, TREASURER and MATERIALS COORDINATOR.
CANVASSING CREW LEADERS are responsible for keeping records of addresses canvassed and the results of each voter contact. The crew should be two pairs of partners — plus, in targeted areas, the candidate — and every member of the crew must be trained to field routine questions. (Petition drives can be structured the same way as
canvassing, except the crews usually go to fixed locations.) Don’t forget to canvass small businesses as well as residents — get your signs and leaflets in every deli and laundromat!
TABLING CREW LEADERS are responsible for making sure the volunteers who will arrive first and set up the table have everything they need, arrive on time and make the table look neat and professional. A cheesy or untidy display creates a negative impression. The crew should be large enough at all times to include one or two people standing in front of the table to leaflet the crowd; one person behind the table to answer questions and sign up volunteers; and one person visiting other tables to network with community organizations. In addition to materials (leaflets, petition sheets, volunteer sign-up sheets, buttons, bumper stickers, and “for display only” pieces such as photos, press clips and speech transcripts), each crew should have a kit that includes banners, signs, paperweights (very important, use stones or rubberband brochures if necessary), pens, tape, scissors, sunscreen, and snacks and insulated mugs. (No disposables! The whole operation should demonstrate Green values.)
HOUSE PARTY CREW LEADERS work with the host to get invitations and reminders out; train the host or the host’s designee (or provide someone from the campaign) to introduce the candidate and to make the fundraising pitch and recruiting pitch; and make sure plenty of campaign workers are available to answer questions and collect donations (but not outnumber the invited guests).
The media buyer (a.k.a. advertising director) is responsible for devising an advertising strategy — deciding where and when campaign ads should appear in print and broadcast media. If there is audio or video production to be done, the media buyer works with the studio. The ideal person for this job is a professional media buyer with political experience, but for most Green campaigns (all except congressional or gubernatorial campaigns with a substantial advertising budget), the PRESS SECRETARY can probably handle these tasks.
Often a contractor who might work for several campaigns at a time (in different races), a political analyst is responsible for opinion polling (working with polling firms), voter ID, demographic research and other fact-finding work that will influence campaign strategy and planning. If at all possible, it is well worth it to get experienced professionals to do this kind of work.
This is too often overlooked: every volunteer who will have any contact with the public on behalf of the campaign should have some training. It doesn’t matter how experienced a volunteer is — everyone should attend at least a brief orientation to make sure all campaign workers are “on the same page” about the campaign’s goals, messages and positions. Everyone should be able to give articulate, vetted answers to frequently asked questions (and misconceptions) about the Green Party and the political system as well as the candidate, the opposition and current issues. Hold orientation sessions for new volunteers as often as you need to, and offer them on different nights of the week to accommodate people who have other commitments on certain evenings; keep them brief (an hour or less) and upbeat; and involve the candidate if possible.
Training can be a second hat worn by the CM, the PRESS SECRETARY, the VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR or any other experienced campaign worker, but a large and busy campaign might need someone dedicated to volunteer orientation.
The VC is responsible for recruiting volunteers, identifying their skills and interests, matching them with tasks they’re excited about on a schedule that suits them, and ensuring that they’re appropriately trained. Especially on campaigns that have little or no paid staff, it is often advisable to have a deputy VC in charge of recruiting and another in charge of scheduling. RECRUITING includes returning phone calls and e-mail from people who express interest; contacting people who sign up at house parties, rallies or community events; identifying people who have special skills or experience (not just political experience, but graphic design, database management, editing, even catering or group child care); and determining each recruit’s time commitment and availability. SCHEDULING includes identifying personnel needs for each week (in consultation with the SCHEDULER, of course) and calling volunteers to make sure every event, every mailing, every candidate appearance is adequately staffed. The VC also schedules training and TRAINERS for new volunteers; plans occasional parties or treats to thank volunteers; and writes letters of recommendation for key volunteers after the election. If the campaign has interns, the VC works with their schools to enable each intern to fulfill academic requirements.
Your campaign organization consists mainly of the people who hand out your leaflets, put up your signs, collect signatures on your nominating petition, stuff envelopes, call radio shows, write letters to the editor, and work the phones and knock on neighbors’ doors on your behalf. The volunteer positions listed here are no more or less important
— they’re just more specialized.
One of the most valuable individuals a campaign can have is a volunteer who is willing to drive (or ride a bike) to the copy shop, the post office, the perc-free dry cleaners and all over the place. This is a job that a reliable high school student can do, and it can make a 10% difference in the candidate’s blood pressure.
Whether you use a commercial contact management database or you have a consultant create one, you’ll need to be able to keep track of volunteers, donors, endorsers, people who want yard signs, etc. The database manager is responsible for training volunteers to do data entry and for generating reports at the request of the CM.
ELECTION DAY SUPPORT CREW
At least one pair of volunteers should spend election day (and primary day) making the rounds of polling places to make sure the precinct workers have everything they need
— materials, water, coffee, snacks, and a chance to take a bathroom break. The only requirements are a van or station wagon, a cell phone, and detailed knowledge of the area or at least a good street map. An ELECTION DAY FIELD COORDINATOR, who may or may not be the regular VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR, should stay behind at campaign headquarters to answer the phone and handle problems with supplies, scheduling, disputes about electioneering zones at polling places, etc. And a separate ELECTION
NIGHT CREW should focus on planning the victory party! (As with any campaign event, keep a few volunteers in reserve whose only task is cleanup.)
One person should keep a current list of the community leaders and organizations formally endorsing the candidate. The endorsements secretary is responsible for getting clear statements of endorsement (preferably in writing or at least by e-mail, or verball in public) and, for individual endorsers, verifying the person’s organizational affiliation and title to be listed “for identification purposes only.” An updated endorser list should be sent to the PRESS SECRETARY and the MATERIALS COORDINATOR every week or whenever a major endorsement is secured. This person should also contact — early and often — unions, advocacy groups and other institutions that might endorse candidates and make sure the candidate receives a questionnaire or an invitation to participate in the group’s screening process. (In a race for a down-ballot office, the CM can usually do this job; the important thing is that one specific person is keeping track of endorsers.)
Too often an afterthought, it’s important that the people who accompany the candidate to public appearances be attentive and quick-thinking. The candidate should never go anywhere alone — always have one aide at a small event such as a block party or tenants’ association meeting, and two or three aides at a larger event such as a county fair or Fourth of July parade. The aides have to introduce the candidate to voters; keep the candidate on schedule; rescue the candidate from dead-end conversations with nuts and weirdos; play “bad cop” with hostile and abusive voters so the candidate doesn’t have to be rude in public; and, yes, answer the candidate’s cell phone and carry the candidate’s briefcase (or leaflets, more to the point, but the candidate’s hands should always be free to wave and shake hands with voters). The idea person for a candidate’s entourage is an experienced political organizer, a public relations professional, or an executive assistant. (Think Smithers from The Simpsons or Charlie from The West Wing.)
Get-Out-The-Vote workers can be divided in two groups: phone crew, making last- minute calls to targeted supporters to remind them to vote, and field crew, on sound trucks or motorcades where that is the local custom. (Greens should consider bikecades instead!) Field crews should also be leafletting at subway stations or busy streetcorners every morning and evening in the closing weeks of the campaign.
Most Green candidates try to do too much administrative work themselves. It is okay, it is not exploitation or elitism, for a candidate to have a willing volunteer or a decently paid employee sort the mail (and email and voicemail), answer routine questions, return some phone calls, type correspondence, buy office supplies, update the database, and make coffee and order pizza.
Local laws usually allow each candidate to send a representative into each polling station to monitor the vote count and into the election agency’s office to monitor the tabulation. In the days of paper ballots, this was not as important for Greens as
maximizing the number of precinct workers in the field, but in jurisdictions that use electronic voting machines without a paper trail, every opportunity to keep an eye on the process should be taken seriously.
PRECINCT (OR WARD) CAPTAINS
It may be an archaic title, but it’s readily understood in the community: the precinct captain is the crew leader at a particular polling station, and precinct workers hand out leaflets to every voter. A busy polling place with voters entering from several directions might require four or more precinct workers during peak hours. The precinct captain is responsible for making sure enough trained precinct workers are scheduled and enough materials are available. (In a very large and organized campaign, the precinct captain and crew can also take charge of lit drops and signage in the precinct, but most Green campaigns have central teams dedicated to those tasks.) It’s helpful if the precinct captain has a cell phone.
You’ll need lots of people to help with research — a good volunteer opportunity for people who are available only at odd hours or an irregular schedule. Some research volunteers or interns might be assigned to study certain issues and brief the candidate or help draft speeches, press releases and answers to candidate surveys. Other researchers might be assigned specific questions when the press secretary, speechwrsiter or materials coordinator needs to verify certain facts — often on short notice. Still others may be assigned to study opponents’ backgrounds and monitor their activities. And still others may be assigned to read a certain newspaper or watch a certain daily news broadcast, both to brief the candidate on current events and to report to the press secretary about campaign coverage. The ideal researcher is familiar with the legislative and execurive branches of government; local issues over the past few years; major players, individual and institutional, in local politics; campaign finance law and resources; and the great equalizer of modern investigation, Google. (Bonus points for Lexis/Nexus: recruit law students to gain access to this valuable database.)
Pairs of volunteers deliver yard signs to people who have agreed to display them; post signs in public space where allowed by law; and post signs outside the electioneering line at polling places. Just as important, pairs of volunteers take the signs down promptly after the election and well before the deadline established by law. Know and obey the local regulations: in many places, yard signs aren’t allowed before a certain date; the number of signs per block in public space may be limited; and it may be legal to staple signs back-to-back around a pole but not to use tape or wheatpaste. (Aside from costly fines, a campaign runs the risk of alienating residents with too much visual clutter — and if a campaign is busy answering for its manners, it’s not promoting its message.) If you pay attention to sightlines and the direction and height of traffic — in cars, on foot and on buses — you can make two signs just as noticeable as ten.)
Filling a vitally important role, the treasurer is responsible for keeping the campaign in compliance with local campaign finance law (or, in congressional and presidential races, federal law). This includes filing reports required by the local election agency, state elections department, or the Federal Election Commission; making a good-faith effort to obtain certain personal information the campaign is required to request from donors (e.g. occupation and employer); keeping the campaign’s bank account and ledger in good order; depositing contributions promptly; reporting names and mailing addresses of contributors to the FUNDRAISING COORDINATOR every week; and, as directed by the CM, writing and mailing checks promptly to pay for approved expenditures or reimbursements. The idead treasurer is attentive to detail and impeccably trustworthy, and has the patience to learn and follow a detailed set of arcane rules. (In most jurisdictions, the election agency offers free seminars or manuals for first-time campaign treasurers.) Also, in most jurisdictions, the “authority line” required on campaign materials must include the treasurer’s name (e.g. “Paid for by Ward One Citizens for McLarty, Philip Barlow, Treasurer”), so it’s essential that the treasurer be comfortable with this exposure and it’s helpful if the treasurer is a well- known and respected member of the community.
Green candidates can obtain website templates from the Coordinated Campaign Committee that can be customized with local content. Whether you use templates or create a web site from scratch, the webmaster (who may or may not be the web site designer) is responsible for keeping the content up-to-date and complete. HTML skills are not required if you use point-and-click web editing software; the ideal webmaster has editorial skills and public relations experience, but the most important qualification is available for quick and reliable updates.
AND DON’T FORGET... CANDIDATE
The candidate has specific responsibilities too. Whether the principal goal of the campaign is to win the election, secure a ballot line, expand the scope of public discourse, force other candidates to adopt a more progressive platform, or expand and strengthen the party, the campaign is the means by which we submit the Green agenda to the voting public. That is the candidate’s responsibility. The candidate, by accepting people’s gifts of labor and money and goodwill, accepts a duty to devote all possible time, energy and talent to the goals of the campaign. Working with advisors, the candidate sets the tone of the campaign and makes the final decisions on matters of strategy — but a candidate who has chosen the right CM and staff should not need to play a supervisory role or make day-to-day administrative decisions. There is an inherent hierarchy, and the candidate is naturally at the top — after all, the campaign is carried out in the candidate’s good name, and the candidate’s reputation is at risk. But ideally, the candidate is the star of the show and the CM is the director. The director’s talent and effort won’t accomplish anything if the star doesn’t show up and deliver the lines, but ultimately, the star will determine how they’re delivered.
The candidate’s specific responsibilities include asking people for money and volunteer labor; thanking supporters (at every opportunity); attending lots of community events; responding to all candidate questionnaires and participating in debates and forums; maintaining a decorous and professional appearance, manner and tone at all times in public; and setting clear expectations as employer of the CM, including the scope of the CM’s authority.
Appendix: Sample Volunteer Database Information
prefix [title] first_name middle_initial
Donation amount Name of solicitor Solicitation method Date of thank you note Source of name
last_name Date name acquired
mailing address (street, City, etc.)
daytime_phone evening_phone mobile_phone fax
preferred method of contact congressional_district precinct
occupation employer self_employed student
date_birth education_level ethnicity income range homeowner
presidential_vote union_name union_local religious_affiliation congregation_group
Date of ask Ask amount Pledge amount
register_voters receive_updates HQ_work precinct_leader attend_rallies major_mailings phone_banks election_driver poll_worker yard_sign bumper_sticker write_letters talk_radio solicit_donations host_houseparty help_houseparty pass_out_literature web_banner office_space computers large_vehicle copy_machine editing_suite sign_making
mornings afternoons evenings saturdays sundays flexible hours
special_needs – transportation,
write_releases computer_web public_relations photography video
music public_speaking training_teaching polling_surveys