When I did politics, I did field work.
Which is basically lit drops, GOTV and petition drives. Make no mistake, it sucks. I was chased by dogs, walked in the rain, and got to know every block of Elizabeth, New Jersey.
You only do that for two reasons, money or committment.
And money isn't enough.
Party organizations are invisible to the general public, but they build the infrastructure for campaigns. These are year round activities, for issue drives, local campaigns. You see them maybe in a tight congressional race, or during the presidential years, but they make elections go. They do the scut work campaigns need to survive.
They also supply vetting for field workers.
Ok, let's go over the basics.
1) You need a crew.
One who shows up every day, people who are reliable and party people. You can't just hire teenagers to interact with the public. You need older people, adults, I did this in my 30's. You want people you can trust
2) You need a specific goal.
If you want 50 houses hit before noon, you need people who can do that. They can't be one stop shy of homeless either. They have to look neat and non-suspcious. Which is why you rely on the party regulars
3) You need people you can trust
Campaigns often stick moles in the other side. They don't make it obvious, but it happens all the time. You need to know if people will do what they say and which ones need more organizaion and supervision. Who can be trusted to work on their own and who needs to stick close to home.
4) You need people who know the area well
You can import people, trusted people, to do this, but you need to know someone who can vouch for them and will stay on top of them, And you need someone who can plan their activities.
This is one of the reasons the Dean campaign failed in Iowa and ACT failed in Ohio. They thought that they could import bodies and that would be enough. You can import people from one county to another, but beyond that, you need a base of local support, people who know where to go and who to reach.
If there was a key moment that cost Lieberman the black vote, it was the day in New Haven when an alderman sent her people down to get hired, and they were sent away, with only teenagers being hired. That was it. They lost all the key influencers in one fell swoop. All the machine people she knew walked away.
Meanwhile, Lamont, who won the black vote 55-41, hired Alexis McGill, who went beyond the church network and hired adults for the street teams.
This is one of the reason independents, as a rule, don't win. Unless they can build an organization which can go into neighborhoods and speak to people who can change minds. The Greens talk about people power, but usually can't walk a district and get votes, much less get to the people who matter.
Each party does it differently as well. Dems rely on unions and social groups to form the basis of their party field operations. The GOP has come to rely upon churches as their base. Church is a major persuader. It's how they reached people in Ohio. Bush's religousity appealed to a lot of people, more than we give credit to.
The black church as political organ is overrated. Ministers are viewed skeptically by many parishoners, and their endorsement, to an educated, unionized body can only work when they share the same interests.
Otherwise, union membership and education play a larger role in the black community than guidance by religious leaders. Remember, the leadership of most churches comes from educated
women. So they vote their interests first. McGill's street team outreach is going to be the future model of reaching black voters because it works.
You would have to be extremely popular to overcome the handicap of no party organization, like Jesse Ventura.
posted by Steve @ 2:05:00 AM