Project Wonderful

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Ask An Election Nerd: Is There Such A Thing As Campaign Career Life Balance?

Hey Nancy, is there any area of the campaign world where a reasonable work-life balance is possible? I'm in my mid twenties, and for now I've made a conscious choice to forgo that balance... but I know that I can't keep that up forever. After a few years I may want some kind of personal life. Is there some niche that allows that without leaving campaigns entirely?

This is suuuuuuch a good question and one I have asked a lot over the past few years, beginning in my own mid-twenties. It's part of the reason I went to grad school and started this blog. I think I have some really good advice on this topic, not because I am a genius but because I have been asking really smart people about it. Here's what I've learned:

1)Stay on the trail for as long as you can. When I left grad school and started doing informational interviews, maaaaaany people advised me to go back on the campaign trail just one more cycle before moving to Washington. For health, logistic, and personal reasons that is not what I decided to do and we'll get there in a second. What I have found, and was warned about, is that you can really hit a wall in your career if you don't have a big marquee race on your resume. It's not that you can't overcome that, but it makes the path much, much, much, much more difficult. As good as your instincts may be, no one wants to take advice from someone who hasn't been there. In addition, the more time I spend with colleagues who do have one or two more cycles under their belt, the more I realize there's a lot that I don't know and probably won't know until I manage another cycle.

2)Yes, but it comes with some trade-offs. I'm obviously still involved in campaign world, but I just told you I haven't been managing races. Here's why. In my experience the best work-life balance available in the electoral realm is working at endorsing organizations. In my current role, I still get to work with and advise candidates, run campaign trainings, and interact with consultants BUT I work from 9am to 6pm on most weekdays and rarely on weekends. From that perspective, it's a pretty sweet gig. The frustrating part of my job is that while I don't have the stress of managing a campaign, I also don't have the control. My candidates can make decisions that I don't agree with and I have a limited arsenal of carrots and sticks to influence that. When my candidates win, I don't get credit for it even if I basically wrote their campaign plan. It's also just not as exciting as being on the ground. I work at a desk in an office, which has a different energy than being on a campaign and most of my coworkers are not campaign people. In addition (and this is a biggie) most organizations like the one I described are non-profits, which means they probably won't be able to pay you as well as other avenues and funding for your work is often contingent on factors outside your control.

3)As you advance in your campaign career you can negotiate better work-life balance. It's true, no good campaign manager is working 9 to 6pm throughout the cycle. At the same time, most managers, finance directors and communications directors aren't working field organizer hours. Especially if you're on a campaign over a long period of time, you don't have to work weekends in the beginning. You can ask for vacation, housing (paid, not supporter) and stipends. I know a statewide campaign manager who negotiates up front that she gets time for an hour run in the middle of each day. However, the most comforting advice I got on this subject is that you are a different person at 32 than 22. You know yourself better; you know what you need to stay healthy mentally and physically; you are better equipped to advocate for yourself and you will have self-control to keep from burning yourself out.

4)You will never stop asking yourself this question. When I was considering taking a semester off grad school to go on a campaign, a friend who has been on and off the trail for the past 10 years advised me that no matter what I decided, my decision would never be final. (I wound up taking 6 weeks to go be a GOTV Director on a race he was managing.) Whether or not to go out on a race is the eternal struggle precisely for the reasons I just mentioned: races are more exciting and advance your career, but they are also unpredictable and draining. Take it from me, even if you decide to spend a couple years elsewhere, campaigns will always be in the back of your mind. Conversely when you’re campaign staff you will always hear the siren song of stability. It’s not necessarily an either/or, so if you are feeling like you need a time out, you can take a cycle to reevaluate and still go back.

Thanks for asking this question! It’s been a dialectic in the back of my mind for a long time and I’m really glad you prompted me to share some of the great advice I’ve collected. I hope it helps you as much as it’s helped me.

If YOU have a question for the blog, email me at

Campaign Love and Mine,


Monday, May 11, 2015

Rand Paul's Campaign is Licking the Competition.....Literally

In the video above Rand Paul's New Hampshire Political Director, David Chesley, LICKS the camera of an American Bridge tracker. I don't really know what to say because the absurdity of this story speaks for itself. Here are some thoughts:

1) From a campaign staff perspective, this is pretty funny. Having and being a tracker is an awkward situation, and nothing cuts tension like licking something.

2) If you are the kind of person who thinks Rand Paul is a good decision, I guess it is not that surprising that you also think licking strange recording equipment is.

3) The irony is that without the camera lick, this tracker probably would have gotten nothing from this meeting. As it stands, this video is all over my Facebook feed.

So moral of the story, unlike in real life, as a campaign staffer it's not usually a good idea to do something just because you think it's funny.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Organizer Store: Subscription Edition

Hello my beautiful amazing friends! I am miss blogging with you so much! I am in the process of moving and starting up a little side hustle so things have been nuts, but I wanted to share some great finds I've been loving over the past couple of months, all of which are subscriptiony in nature.

1) The Skimm: Love it!! The Skimm is a daily (on week days) publication written by two Tufts alums (Go Jumbos!) It basically synthesizes what's being talked about in conversation and the Internet into an easy, digestible, conversationally toned email that gets sent out before you get up in the morning. Oh also, it's free. It is great for campaigners (or really anybody) because it gives you a reference point for the things people are talking about without getting you bogged down into details or having to wade through a bunch of articles yourself. Basically, it helps me stay human and have an idea of what's going on in the world outside of my little political bubble. Click here to sign up!

2) Nature Box: Speaking of Nature! Remember when I told you about Graze and also that I was trying another snack subscription that I'd review for you later? Well I'm doing that now. The thing about Nature Box is that it only comes once a month, as opposed to weekly like Graze, but the portions are bigger and purportedly for a month (although hi, have we met?) You can order frequently more if you like. Nature Box is $19.95/month for 5 gourmet snacks, which are definitely bigger than a snack size bag of chips you'd get at a 7/11 but about half the size of a family size bag (classy no?). But also...way healthier and more delicious and you don't feel like a greasy nap monster after eating one. The two things I like about Nature Box more than Graze are the taste and the variety of snacks. They are much, much tastier AND you can choose exactly what you get (depending on availability). My favorites are the Sea Salt Sun Crunch and the Double Berry Fruit Peels. The reason I think these are great for campaigns is that they are healthy snacks to have on hand that you don't have to go out and buy. I have a couple free trials to give away so if you are interested in trying Nature Box, be the first to email!

3) Wantable: Wantable!! (Aaaah! Queue angels singing music). Wantable is a monthly subscription service that takes your likes and dislikes and curates a collection just for you. There are a couple of different options but the one I get is the accessories box. I love Wantable as opposed to another accessories box because it is highly customizable. You can choose the styles you like, the TYPES of items you like (rings, necklaces, sunglasses, scarves, etc), the finishes you like (gold, silver, etc) and even specifics like the necklace length you prefer. Unlike other companies if you put that you don't like something, you NEVER get it. They really take your feedback seriously. You also have the opportunity to skip a month and to return individual items from your box if you don't like them. Your first box is $40/ month and they are $36 after that. I know that's a little pricey, but what I like about it is that it's like getting a thoughtful present delivered to you at your campaign office. I was having a blah winter (because winter in an East Coast city is the actual worst, except for Christmas decorations) and this was a total pick me up! To get your own Wantable Box (using my referral code) click here!

4) Gwynnie Bee An honorable mention, or more like an honorable re-mention, has to go to Gwynnie Bee. Even though I already talked about it in a an earlier Organizer Store, I couldn't write a subscription edition without mentioning my favorite subscription service of all time! Gwynnie Bee is a clothing subscription service for women sizes 10-32. You sign up for a subscription plan (which start at $35/month) and put as many items from their inventory as you like in your virtual closet. Then they send you clothes! You wear and keep a garment for as long as you like and when you’re finished you just send it back and they send you a new one! It’s a relatively inexpensive way to be able to stress shop online all the time (because who has time to go to the store) and have an endlessly rotating wardrobe without ever doing laundry (because who has time to do anything?). Since signing up for Gwynnie Bee 2 months ago I must have saved at least $100 on dry cleaning. Anyway, I use it and I think its great. If I had had Gwynnie Bee back in my organizing days it would have spared me a lot of days of wearing yoga pants in the office. If you think this might be something you’d be into they offer a free month trial AND if you use this link you and I both get a free upgrade (so please use my link) happy shopping!

Until Next Time!

Campaign Love and Mine,


Thursday, April 30, 2015

May The Odds Be Ever In Hill's Favor

According to Yahoo Finance, the odds of Hillary Clinton being the next President of the United States are 11:10 which means if you bet $10 on her winning and she does, you get $11 back. On the other hand candidates like Chris Christie and Rand Paul are 16:1. Keep in mind there are a lot more Republicans duking it out for their nomination and that polling at this point is basically meaningless. That said if I were a bettin' man, I'd be betting on Hillary.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Today I voted for Teddy Roosevelt

You gotta hand it to the Republican Party, everyone once in a rare while they actually have a good idea, (broken clock etc.) This time their constant looking to the past brought them to the idea of a straw poll for best Republican President in history. It can't come up with any worse than the yahoos they have running currently! Obviously, I voted for my main man, Teddy Roosevelt, but there are some other strong contenders like say...Abraham Lincoln. Republican wasn't always synonymous with regressive! I think it would be amazing if there was a coup and Harding ran away with it, but my guess is it's going to be Reagan or Lincoln.

In either case, if it got a hardcore Democrat like me to give them my contact info, it sure as heck was an effective list building campaign!

Here is the link if you'd care to make your voice heard!

Hillary Clinton Announcement Video!!!

Putting it up here for posterity more than anything! I am, of course, over the moon that she finally announced! Would you believe I just watched it? I could have been a monkey washing a cat and I still would have been all in for her, so seeing the actual video wasn't a huge priority.

For what it's worth though I thought it was extremely well done. It wasn't until 30 seconds into it that I realized the announcement video had started and I wasn't watching a commercial. I actually liked that about it because it felt different from what I was expecting and it was just one of those head on candidate talking to the camera announcements that I'm used to when someone announces over a video. In any case it is, as the kids say, officially on and I am definitely ready for Hillary!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Too Late to Rand Paulogize

Rand Paul just launched his presidential campaign and it is already a laugh outloud shitshow.

As the National Journal's Matt Berman points out there are a few issues with Paul's "Show Your Support" page.

By far the crowning achievement has to be the inclusion of "Jew for Rand." To quote Louis CK, "Jew is a funny word because Jew is the only word that is the polite thing to call a group of people and the slur for the same group." "Jews for Rand," would have been more acceptable, but as a colleague pointed out, why bother making it plural when there is no indication that it will apply to two or more people? Neither the liberal nor the conservative Jewish political base is fond of Paul, albeit for different reasons, so maybe this was made for one specific Jewish person.

Apparently the graphic has since been changed to "Jewish for Rand which also sounds ridiculous. ("Oh man you donated to Rand Paul? You're totally Jewish for him.") For the curious, since "Jew" is both a religious and an ethnic identity, the best bet would have been "Jewish American" for Rand. (because you wouldn't say "Black for Rand" or "Mexican for Rand"...for, well a variety of reasons.)

In fairness, the lack of consistency extends itself to other constituency groups as well. There are Iowan, South Carolinians and Nevadans, but simply "New Hampshire" for Rand.

More telling are the constituency groups that are absent from the selection including Women, Muslims and the LGBT community, presumably because he has no intention of appealing to them. He did find time to include "musicians" though. Thankfully the good folks at Americans United for Change decided to help him out on that front.

(You know because of how he is always shushing lady reporters or as I call them, reporters.)

Also it is not very intersectional of him. I mean, what if you are an Italian American, Catholic Fisherman? How do you decide?

This is going to be one hell of a primary.