Friday, October 31, 2014

What should I do in the last weekend?

Candidates always ask me how to spend the last weekend before the election most productively. These tips assume you have done all the right things up to now, mail, website, media, social media, walk, walk walk. Now, go out and give your campaign a boost this last weekend.

1. Keep walking precincts and calling voters. Update your list so you are only going to those homes and phones where unmarked ballots still reside. Can't afford a new walk list? Just go to poll voters. You know they haven't cast their ballot yet, and maybe seeing your smiling face on their doorstep will get them to cast it for you.

2. Robo call. Just one. Very short. Your name, your office. One point. Your telephone number. Thanks.

3. Make sure your GOTV lists are prepared and you have volunteers to hit the polls on Election Day. This means you have either printed out or highlighted on your walk sheets those voters who said they would vote for you. Now you have to make sure they get to the polls and cast that ballot.

4. Last minute email blasts. Ask for help, volunteers, money (if you don't have debts, you haven't been running hard enough; if you have money left over, your in trouble deep!), and invite everyone to watch the returns with you on Tuesday night.

5. Update the website with some excitement. We're on a roll. Down to the wire. Pics of you and your volunteers (and their dogs) handing out literature.

6. Stop by every single public event you can and get rid of every last piece of literature you have.

7.  OK. When those things are done, get your ten friends together and start waving signs. No, this will not make anyone who hasn't thought about the race yet decide to vote for you, but someone on the fence might appreciate the show of enthusiasm.

8. Get some rest. Monday you will be calling undecided poll voters as well as making reminder calls to those poll voters on your list who you identified as voting for you. Tuesday you will going non-stop, as you make sure all your voters get to the polls, if it means dragging them from their dinners at 7 PM, pleading and moaning that you need their vote. Now.

9. Read your horoscope. Interpret liberally.

10. Never. Stop. Campaigning.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Don't Forget to Vote! Drop that Absentee Ballot off or it won't count

I know you know this, but that absentee ballot will do you no good sitting on the coffee table at 8 PM on election day.  Yes, you missed the deadline to mail it in. But, you may still drop it off at your Registrar of Voters office anytime between now and 8 PM on election Day or at any polling place. Who knows you may be the one vote that makes a difference in a key race, when all those last minute ballots are counted, usually about two weeks out.

As a report in Capital Alert noted: "More than one-half of California’s 17.6 million registered voters have requested vote-by-mail ballots for Tuesday’s election. The question now is: Will they use them?"

The answer, my friends, is up to you. Mark your ballot and then take the time to get it in.

Read more here:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

One week before Election Day. Do you know where YOUR voters are?

It's one week before the big day, and you don't know who is voting for you and you is voting for the other guy? Why not? Because you neglected to do some basic campaign steps back in September.

Mistakes candidates make that leave them in limbo in November:

1. Don't go door to door. If you don't go door, to miss key opportunities to meet actual voters, and, more important, to have them meet you (or your surrogate) and hear your message from a flesh and blood human being. What's more, you don't get a sense if your message is working or not.

2. Don't target and go to more doors than you need to. You've heard me talk about targeting frequent voters ad nauseum. when you're walking precincts, trudging up hill and down dale, you'll soon know why. Some people never vote and no matter how much persuasion you give them, they never will. You're wasting valuable time going to those households, missing the key voters who do vote, and will be likely to vote for you if they hear your message, and that's time you'll never make up.

3. You don't keep good records of who you waked to and what they said. Whoops, you forgot to note the voters' responses on your walk lists. Your volunteers gave you back a stack of completed lists with nothing but check marks on them. This won't happen if you either download the right app and keep your records electronically, or do it the old-fashioned way (I still do), and check the boxes on your walk sheets, Yes, No, undecided, not home.

4. Say, "Glad that's over with" and drop your walk sheets into the receycle bin after the last door has been knocked. Wait. Now you go back and call all your Yes voters and remind them, in the nicest way possible to go to the polls Tuesday. Then, on Tuesday, you and your volunteers physically get down to the polls and check who's voted on your lists. Call the ones who haven't and remind them, gently, but urgently, that now is the time. Of course this applies only to poll voters, and any abseentte voters who may have neglected to mail their ballots in. They can drop them off at any polling station until closing time.

Once all this is done (and your mail went out on time, your website got updated frequently, your ads were all printed, your TV spots delivered), then, and only then, can you relax at your victory party, secure in the knowledge, win or lose, you have run the very best campaign you could possible have, and all your votes are accounted for.

Good luck!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

How NOT to Freak out in the Last Days of the Campaign

Guest post from Campaign in a Box. All these pointers are right on, and good to hear to keep sane during these last two weeks of campaign season.

By Jason Chambers

Campaigning Isn't As Intuitive As You Think

Every campaign season - often in October - I get an "aha!" question from a candidate that goes something like this: "I was talking to Dave the other day and he said that if we add QR codes to our mail pieces, everyone will scan them and visit our website. Maybe we should call all of our volunteers and have them put QR codes on our doorbell pieces this weekend?"

Rarely is a last minute deviation from the campaign plan a good idea. Throughout your campaign, you'll begin to better understand how campaigning works, but be careful about some of the less intuitive aspects of a political campaign. Your campaign strategy is developed in April (not October) for a reason - repetition and following a well thought out plan is the key to winning elections.
Here are a few examples of some of the ideas I've run into that you should be wary of:

More Targeted Voters, Not More Voters

Often candidates will get concerned late in the campaign season that the targeted lists we use to knock on doors are ignoring too many important voters, and they'll ask if we can hit every door while we're out.

Let's say you're running in Lexington, Kentucky for Mayor. Lexington has about 308,000 citizens. Of those 308,000 citizens, about 209,000 are registered to vote. In an off year election like 2014, about 42% will turn out to vote. That's around 87,500 voters.

Of those 87,500 voters, approximately 30% vote Republican exclusively. Another 30% vote Democrat exclusively. The remaining 40% leaves about 35,000 voters who can be persuaded to vote for you. That's 11% of the total number of people living in houses in Lexington. So about 1 in every 9 homes you doorbell - assuming you choose to doorbell every home - is worth your time.

Repeat the same message, over and over

Another thing and understandably frustrates candidates is staying on message. By the end of the campaign you've heard yourself say the same thing over and over and over. Your friends and your spouse are telling you they're bored of the same thing, and you probably need to mix it up because the voters are going to get bored of hearing the same thing.

The problem here is that your friends and family are paying close attention to your election. Nobody else is. Between work, church, the kids soccer game, budgeting for next month and the football game this weekend, most voters have 1,000 things on their minds, and elections are low on the priority list. That's why repetition of your message is a must - by election day, if a voter knows one thing about you, you're on the right track. So repeat that one message over and over and over, until it makes you sick. Then repeat it again.

What Your Opponent Puts on Facebook Doesn't Matter

My name has never been on the ballot, so it's hard for me to completely understand how difficult it is to hear negative things about yourself and not want to react. But you have to learn not to react. If your opponent writes "John voted to increase taxes last month" on his Facebook page and it's not true, remember two things:
  1. The people following his Facebook page are already voting for him, so don't worry about whether they think you voted to increase taxes last month.
  2. When you respond, you potentially turn a quiet attack into a public debate - and you don't want to debate whether you raised taxes or not if the attack will quietly go away by ignoring it. Half the voters will believe it, half won't. That's much worse than 95% of the voters not even knowing the attack happened. 
Commenters on News Websites Aren't Objective

It's helpful to get your supporters to comment on relevant stories on the newspapers website, but don't mistake the comments that disparage you as objective. Undecided voters don't jump on websites to blast you. Supporters of your opponent do. So don't freak out that some random voter doesn't like you - he's probably not random. Those comments are nearly always organized by the campaign of your opponent. Feel free to ask a few of your supporters to write positive comments about you, but don't assume that because there are 4 negative comments for every positive comment you're losing the race 4:1. Those comments are not representative of the general electorate.

Your Opponent Probably Isn't An Evil Genius

If you pick up a weekly neighborhood newspaper and see an ad for your opponent in it, don't worry. He doesn't have some mysterious insight about the effectiveness of weekly newspapers. He probably got a sales call from that weekly and got talked into putting an ad in it. You don't have to match him everywhere he's advertising - stick to the campaign plan and advertise where you planned to advertise.

That One Big Idea Probably Isn't A Gamechanger

A couple of years back I was helping out a campaign for Congress and we got so many random ideas from volunteers and donors that we started our own inside joke, "GAMECHANGER!"
It's tempting to adopt every idea you hear from people, and often they'll expect you to and gripe when you don't. But you sit down and write a campaign months before Election Day for a reason - and you need to stick to that plan.

A few years ago, the wife of my candidate's biggest donor ask for a meeting with the campaign a week before Election Day. Because she was married to our biggest donor, we agreed to meet. She had developed an interest in new technology, and had an idea for our campaign. She wanted us to halt the campaign and put QR codes on every piece of campaign literature we had. She was convinced that QR codes would drive thousands of voters to our website and would be the key to victory on Election Day. GAMECHANGER!

But it wasn't a gamechanger, and we thanked her for her suggestion then went back to doorbelling. Most ideas you get from volunteers and supporters aren't worth changing your strategy for. Thank them for their time, and continue doing what you're doing. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Unwanted advice about fundraising and those ubiquitous yard signs

So I went to a campaign function for a candidate I support but whose campaign I don't work on.  A friend from the hood. Who she is and what race she is in are not relevant to this story. A well known local personage was there to help boost her campaign. The personage was to speak, and introduce the candidate. In the back of the room, her campaign manager had just finished boasting to a supporter that this campaign was the "first to have yard signs up," when the short speechifying started.

As soon as the candidate finished her brief remarks, thanking people for coming and reminding them to tell their friends to vote and please take a yard sign, people went back to the refreshments and the very nice complimentary wine.

I was standing next to the campaign manager, an earnest young woman with little experience and, from what I had seen so far in this campaign, no overwhelming sense of the urgency necessary to bring a campaign to victory. ( I got a clue about that the first time the candidate's spouse called me for information the manager should have been supplying.)

"Isn't someone doing a money pitch?" I asked somewhat incredulously. (Campaign101  -  always ask for money.)

"That's not how we do it," she replied. "Everyone one here already donated."

"Yes, that is how we do it" I couldn't help responding possibly a little snarkily

With that, and before I could get to the part about people who've already given being the most likely to give again, she turned her back on me and stomped across the room.

Campaign folk can be touchy, I thought. Besides, she has to get rid of all those yard signs she's squandered the campaign coffers on.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Chevron out to buy Richmond election

This just in from AlterNet. File it under they're up to their old tricks. My campaign firm, GreenDog Campaigns did a training for the Team Richmond (non-Chevron) candidates for Council.

  News & Politics  

Death with Dignity - It's all about Compassion, and Choice

In July of 2006, I sat in a crowded Senate hearing  room waiting for a pivotal vote on the Compassionate Choice law, sponsored by State Senators Patty Berg and Lloyd Levine. The vote was tied when Senator Joe Dun, who had been counted as a supporter started to speak. It soon became clear that his vote was not going to go the way we hoped. When he gave a long disquisition on how his Bishop had counseled him of the potential harm this bill might do, we knew the battle was lost.

When he cast his nay vote, many people started to weep. People whose loved ones had died protracted painful deaths, and were supporting this bill to help out others in similar circumstances avoid the same fate, by offering them a “death with dignity.”

Full disclosure, at the time I was a paid consultant to the group Compassion and Choices  (get it, it’s all about compassion and choices) helping raise money in support of the bill.  Death with dignity or Compassionate Choice, as it was called then, is the right for terminally ill patients suffering intractable pain, in the last months of their lives, with counseling from medical doctors and psychological professionals, to choose to end their suffering by taking a lethal cocktail themselves.

I put my full disclosure right up front, because Debra Saunders, in her 10/14/14 column in the San Francisco Chronicle, saves hers for the very end of the italicized descriptive bit after the main column, oh by the way, my hubby is a paid consultant with the “anti-assisted suicide Patients Rights Council.”*

Saunders wrote her column in response to the very moving story of a young woman named Brittany Maynard who, suffering from a terminal brain tumor, had moved from California to Oregon, where she would be allowed to have a death with dignity. Her story had been told in the Chronicle the day before.

It's no coincidence people who oppose a person’s right to end their life under the circumstances described above, always call it “assisted suicide,” because well, you know, suicide, not a good thing. Surely if you are contemplating suicide, we can help. There are doctors, counselors, pills, lots and lots of pills.

Except for the one pill that might make a difference in the case of the lives of patients, and their families, who are suffering through the scenario above.

Saunders does get one thing right. Insurance companies are not happy with patients who expensive demand life prolonging care, especially if it comes with home caregivers.  No. no money for dying at home where someone has to be paid to do the messy stuff.

Saunders claims that insurance companies and “profit driven managed health care” may be steering patients in the direction of ending their lives.  For this she quotes Marilyn Golden of the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund that “for every individual with a happy family who’s not at risk for abuse, there are many other individuals who may be subtly steered toward assisted suicide by their insurance companies or pressured by their family.”

While no one can doubt that there is abuse of the aged, disabled and dying by family members and others, opponents were able to dredge up only one story that could be considered someone being “steered” by an insurance company to toward offing themselves.  In that case, an insurance company refused to pay for an expensive drug prescribed for a lung cancer patient, instead offering a list of other drugs including, according to an unattributed Oregon media report “the one for physician-assisted death.”    

The true villains here are not laws that allows sick people a choice,  but voracious insurance companies, drug manufacturers, hospitals and some physicians who want to squeeze the last penny out of consumers,  insureds and patients, with high costs, higher co-pays and guilt inducing propaganda that push family members and loved ones to go bankrupt to pay their bills.

In fact, in states where it’s legal, the statistics tell a far different story ignored by Saunders (and presumably her husband whose organization is listed among the conservative non-profits who benefit from and contribute to, at least indirectly, Koch brother money and right wing political causes)*

In Oregon according to the original Chronicle article, “since the law was enacted in 1997, 752 people have used the drugs to die out of the 1,173 who were given prescriptions. The median age for those who took the pills was 71 years old. Most had cancer. Just six people under the age of 34 have taken the drug, a barbiturate called Seconal."   

In fact, the young woman in the Chronicle article herself said she was not sure she'd take the drug, but, as in stories I'd heard from people in that hearing room in 2006, it is being able to have that choice that brings comfort.

Conveniently, Senator Dunn, who cast the deciding vote to kill the bill in California, within months took a lucrative job as executive director of the California Medical Association, which, along with the Catholic Church, was one of the most vocal and big spending organizations opposing the bill. I suppose becoming a priest didn’t appeal to him.

*A little research shows that The Patients Rights Council is the DBA name of an organization called the Family Living Council, in turn funded by the Randolph Foundation, which also donates generously to Americans for Prosperity, the Koch Brothers group and other groups funding right wing causes and politicians. As “tax exempt” organization, it does not have to disclose who it gets money from, but I’m not holding my breath that the insurance companies and major medical corporations (including “profit driven managed health care”) are not somewhere in the mix.