Project Wonderful

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Super Tuesday Bingo! (Twitter Edition)

Hi friends! As you may know I am prohibited from sharing my candidate-specific Presidential primary takes on Twitter and apparently that includes comments about "Ernie Slanders" and "Spike Doomberg." However I have many takes that are not candidate specific and because of the semi-gag order plenty of time to scroll and seethe. It's not all seething. I am genuinely stoked by all the heartwarming voter contact anecdotes and adorable pictures of dogs and babies canvassing. So keep 'em coming! And while you're at it play along with me on lead-up-to-Super-Tuesday Bingo!

Monday, February 17, 2020

What Makes You Feel Optimistic About the 2020 Election?

A couple of weeks ago, it was a frustrating time to be a Democrat. The Iowa Caucuses were all sorts of crazy. People were being very mean to each other about it online. And the Senate had just acquitted Donald Trump. It was a bummer for everyone and an extra bummer when you're job is convincing people their individual vote matters and that they have the ability to hold elected officials accountable and make a difference. Stuck in a funk and determined not to spread my spread my negativity, I started asking everybody I came in contact with what makes them feel optimistic about the 2020 Election. Here are some of their answers:

(Note: I didn't ask permission to share so these aren't attributed, but if one is you and you'd like credit just let me know.)

First here are mine: (I gave myself permission to share)

1) The Caucus location I attended in Iowa was like 200 Latino voters (it was a Spanish/English satellite location) many of whom were not just caucusing but REGISTERING to vote for the first time. For the Iowa Caucus, which is not exactly a low threshold to engagement.
2) I feel 95% confident that the Presidential ticket will include at least one woman or person of color.
3) I can think of great reasons to get excited about ANY ONE of the potential Democratic nominees even those that weren't my first or second choice.
4) There's so much passion and energy for primary candidates. If we all came together we'd be unstoppable!

And verbatim from my friends/colleagues/Internet strangers:

2) The early, broad investment in voter protection programs in 20 states. (Thanks to ^^^ this woman)
3) I think we'll take back the [Minnesota] State Senate. That makes me happy.
4) Republicans constantly saying and doing dumb shit. It is a steady flow!
5) I think Georgia is going to finally get real battleground status, something I've been screaming into the void about for the better part of a decade.
6) I’m excited when I see my peers at school wanting to be engaged and slowly feeling more comfy talking about politics.
7) Okay, I’m a numbers person. When the numbers don’t work the only thing I can do is fight like hell. When they do, I still fight like hell but am happier all around. This little known person has a methodology much like mine and she sees some good possibilities for 2020.
8) My smart, beautiful friends working on campaigns.
9) The activation of new candidates and volunteers since 2016, turnout from the midterm, and seeing many of those people still excited for 2020.
10) Increases in turnout in every election since 2016. Gen Z is starting to be able to vote.
11) Based on the polling, the candidate I think will win the nomination is in the best place to beat Trump.
12) Other than the deep intelligence of so many of the candidates (which is real and important), I like knowing that this is a long game and the majority of voters will not remember what happens in these early days yet.
13) Late 30’s millennials aging into higher turnout years.
14) Trump barely won last time and has never had a net positive approval rating.
15) People engaging with new and more nuanced ideas on the Dem side.
16) The focus on state legislatures: mobilized candidates competing to complement top of the ticket dynamics, low dollar (and high dollar) investment, all coming during sky high turnout immediately prior to redistricting. Capturing trifectas or at least blocking Republican trifectas can have a positive impact on our politics for the next decade before it's too late.
17) Trump’s approval being underwater in most swing states.
18) Campaigns are investing in communities of color.

There were more but the ones I got told verbally I forgot to write down :(.

So tell me...what makes YOU feel optimistic about 2020?

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Five Pieces of Bad Advice I've Given You

Look guys, I'm pretty smart. I'm mostly proud of the advice I've given on my blogspot, my tumblr and my social media. That said, nine years (which is how long I've had CampaignSick) is a long time and as my hero/fantasy best friend Oprah says, "When you know better you do better." I've learned and I've evolved my thinking on a number of things as I gained wisdom and life experience and since, unlike our current President, I believe in owning up to my mistakes I'm here to share 5 things I've gotten wrong either in person or on the blog throughout my career.

1) Race and gender of a candidate shouldn't matter. This one pre-dates the blog, but as many of you know, I was a Field Organizer for John Edwards in Iowa during the 2008 primary. At time I believed he was the most electable (gross) but also the most progressive of all the viable Democratic candidates. Despite the historic nature of his opponents' candidacies, I believe his policies would be better for women and communities of color than either of his rivals. In fact, I considered it sexist/racist to support another candidate "just because" of their race or gender. (I know, I can't stand myself in retrospect.) As I got older and learned more about the world, I began to see the ways in which the power structures of race and class and gender are all intertwined. I learned the value of a truly representative representative government and the ways in which a candidate's myriad identities can shape how they govern, how they lead and what they prioritize. Essentially I learned the difference between, and merit in both descriptive and substantive representation. (Disclaimer: this linked post discusses the 2016 during which I had some very strong feelings about the candidates and the ways they were running their campaigns. I'm glad to say both that I am blissfully neutral in the 2020 primary and that everyone, including the mentioned candidates, seem to have learned some very important lessons since then.) Race and gender do matter. Having candidates who look like and share experiences with the people they represent matters. And although it's certainly not the only thing that matters, correcting historical injustices and counterbalancing the racism and sexism (and homophobia and transphobia) that is still prevalent in our society factor much more strongly into my calculus when evaluating a candidate for public office.

2) Don't ever leave college or university to work on a campaign. Another SMDH. I think I maybe should've named this post "my privilege is showing." For years, I advised readers not to take time off of college (or at least no more than a semester) to work on campaigns. My logic was that you only get to be 19 once and campaigns will always be there, but college is a lot less fun if you are hanging out with teenagers when you're 29. But that was a very narrow view of what it means to go to college. I also had several friends who had left college for a semester to be field organizers and regretted never really finding their way back. Look, I had an amazing experience in college. I also went right out of high school to an elite four year institution that was paid for in full by my parents. (Thanks Mom and Dad!) As a working adult with at least a little more perspective, I realize that not everyone's experience is so idyllic. Many people are going to school later in life. People are working two jobs to put themselves through university. People are living at home and commuting to schools where their social life doesn't revolve around a quad. Some people have all the financial advantages I did but college is not working out for them at that moment in life for family, or health, or any number of other reasons. While I still believe you shouldn't throw away a shot at an education to work on campaigns, I now understand that not everyone's path is as paved or as linear as mine was.

3) Texting and social media don't work to get volunteers. While I still believe there is no substitute for a good old fashioned one on one hard ask, times and the way we communicate, are a changin'. As an elder millennial I am severely weirded out to receive an unexpected phone call and even more so if it's from a number I don't recognize. If we want to reach voters we haven't been able to reach, we need to try tactics we haven't tried. This is one reason I'm such a proponent of relational organizing. Similarly if we want authentic relationships with volunteers--and if we want to recruit volunteers in the communities we are trying to reach--we have to reach them where they are. This doesn't mean we can meet our goals by sending a mass email or blast text-targeted asks can still happen on a variety of platforms, but it's a mistake to rely on outdated modes of communication just because of traditional wisdom.

4) The long hours and demands of being a field organizer were good for me when I was sick. This seems like a weird point to make because it's so specific to me but I think it speaks to a larger misconception among my "generation" of field organizers: the idea that working ourselves into the ground was character building. When I see the quote at the top of this post making its rounds on social media, I can't help but think of the way we run field campaigns. Yes, I had transformative and rewarding experiences at the beginning of my career and I will admit a potentially unhealthy fraction of my self-esteem comes from the thrill I got from learning just how hard I could push myself and what I could achieve. I wouldn't be here if I hadn't loved it. At the same time, pushing oneself to emotional and physical exhaustion is no way to live and it probably wasn't the healthiest way for me to cope with my recent trauma. I really believe we are at a crossroads right now in our industry. If we want to attract more diverse talent to our field, if we want then we have to careers that are sustainable, then we have to reexamine our attitudes about what we expect from people when they are first starting out on campaigns. That doesn't, by any stretch, mean lower standards or goals, but assuming that workers can or should devote their entire being to their jobs is shooting ourselves in the foot and antithetical to everything we believe in.

5) You should never quit a campaign. There's a story politicians in Southern California love to tell about a party chair whose name escapes me. This man had three rules in politics:

1) Loyalty up loyalty down
2) Loyalty up loyalty down
3) They f*ck you, you f*ck them harder.

(This, by the way, was the runner up for my wedding vows.) Although I had not worked in California until last year, this was pretty much the mantra I used to live by. If you join a campaign you are making a commitment-to a candidate, to your coworkers, to yourself- and quitting is a major stain on your character. Simply put, that's bullshit. It is a not a good idea to be a perennial campaign-hopper. However, if you are not being respected, if the job is not what you were promised, if you no longer respect your candidate, if you are offered a phenomenal opportunity elsewhere or you are facing a major health or family crisis that makes your continued employment there untenable, GTFO. I had two people leave the Congressional campaign I managed in California for personal career reasons and honestly my first reaction was jealousy. Not because I didn't like that campaign, but because they had the confidence to recognize when something wasn't working for them. I promised myself I would not make the mistake of staying on a race out of blind loyalty again and later that cycle when I found myself "managing" a race with far less decision-making power than I had been promised, I left when a better opportunity came along. At the end of the day, if you were hit by a bus tomorrow the campaign you are working on would move forward with very little fanfare. Loyalty is great, and very important in many circumstances but as the say going don't cross the ocean for something that wouldn't cross the street for you.

May we all continue to reexamine our assumptions and attitudes so that we can grown and learn together in 2020!

Campaign Love and Mine,


5 Biggest Career Mistakes I Made

Hello, Campaignsickles! I miss you and I miss writing. Watching the Iowa Caucus take place from my perch in the north is giving me some serious FOMO but also some serious gladness that I am typing this from my couch rather canvassing in Cedar Rapids. (Don't worry, I'll be back to working weekends soon enough.) Anyway, as the primary looms that means the number of campaigns is dwindling and campaigners are considering what to do next. For that reason, I'm sharing some career mistakes I've made with the hope of providing you the advice I wish I had gotten. Without further ado here are my five biggest career mistakes.

1) Not hopping on another campaign after the 2008 Iowa Caucus This is the reason I thought to write this post. I was physically and emotionally destroyed by the time John Edwards dropped out of the 2008 primary, shortly before super Tuesday.(Seriously, I had a TERRIBLE flu. Get your flu shot!) I drank the Kool-Aid hard on that campaign, (and subsequently vomited it up when it was revealed that he had indeed father a child with one of his staffers and lied about it). I thought I couldn't or wouldn't care for another candidate, but by being too proud I missed the opportunity to join either the Clinton or Obama campaign. Both were actively hiring and either would have introduced me to a whole new network of people that would have expanded my options moving into that general election and subsequent elections to come. Every election ends one way or another. Take time to decompress and grieve but not so much that you cut yourself off from possibilities in your career just so you can wallow.

2) Not managing a Congressional sooner The best career advice I ever received, which I will now pass on to you, is that it only gets harder to go out on the road. Every campaign you work on makes you more qualified for your next job and, especially if you are searching for a place at a consulting firm or PAC or committee job in DC, managing a marquee race is more or less a pre-requisite. I really resisted going out to manage after/before graduate school because I felt like it wasn't the lifestyle I wanted for myself in my late twenties. I wanted to date, and be in one place, and have a sense of security. Fast forward to my early to mid-thirties and I found (and find) myself out on the road with my then fiance, now husband, trying to navigate two campaign careers instead of one, because I wasn't qualified for the jobs I wanted in DC. Let's face it, working on a campaign can be exhilarating and rewarding but it's also physically, emotionally, and financially draining. While I'm so grateful for the opportunities I've had over these past few cycles, I can tell you it doesn't get easier. I wish I had bitten the bullet and managed a big race earlier to put myself in a position to have more options now.

3) Waiting on my life because of campaigns Here's the corollary to what I just told you: you gotta live your life. When we got married we decided to put off our honeymoon because my husband and I had both recently started on Congressional campaigns. After the election, I was unemployed and not in the position to finance a trip to Europe. Then we got great jobs for the 2020 cycle and long story short, by the time we go on our long-awaited trip we will have been married for three years. This isn't just for fun stuff like vacations. I've put off things like going to the doctor, losing weight, and learning new skills. There will always be another election around the corner and it's easy to confuse a necessary sense of urgency with a sense that we are indispensable. If there is something you really want to do, make the plan and work around it. What's great is that we are moving into a new era of campaign culture that places more value on self-care. I guarantee work will still be there if you take a moment for yourself and you will be even more productive because of it.

4) Not applying to jobs as they came up Applying to jobs is draining and the last thing you want to do when you finally get one is to keep looking. Granted it doesn't always make sense to be searching for other opportunities, (don't worry Minnesota, you're stuck with me through November) but there have definitely been times when I was miserable on a campaign or just stuck at at a job without a definite end date. In 2016 I was in both those positions but felt like I couldn't look a) because I was exhausted and b) because I had made a commitment. Turns out the organization I was at ran out of funding for the program I was running and I found myself unemployed with very little warning anyway. If you see an opportunity you want, go for it and then you can make a decision about the next right move for you. It never hurts to apply to to stuff even if the end result is just making more connections or being in a better position to negotiate with your current employer.

5) Not diversifying my experience My first job out of college was as a field organizer and I fell in love with it so hard that it quickly became part of my identity. It never occurred to me that I should try finance or comms or God-forbid become one of the Hill people. Once you get to a certain point in your career it's more difficult to find ways to diversify your skill set without taking a pay cut. There are jobs I'm interested in now that I'd be qualified for if I had done just one year as a Congressional legislative assistant or a deputy press secretary. Who knows? I might have discovered something else I also love doing. Even if it didn't change anything about my career trajectory, now that I manage other departments having those experiences would undoubtably make me a better manager.

Don't get me wrong, I have had such amazing experiences and a #blessed career, but if this blog's purpose is anything it is to be the resource I wish I'd had and so there it is! Coming next...more mistakes from yours truly!

Campaign Love and Mine,


Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Team and Relational Organizing with Shola Farber

If you haven't already, you're going to hear a lot about relational organizing this cycle. There are so many great (and some not great) tools already out there and more popping up all the time. One of my favorites is Team, a product made by the Tuesday Company. I interviewed co-founder Shola Farber to tell us what it's all about.

1) Who are you? (Tell us a little about yourself and how you got here)
My name is Shola Farber and I’m the co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of The Tuesday Company. While serving as a Michigan-based regional director for the 2016 Clinton Campaign, I saw how traditional organizing methods like phone-banking and door-knocking prevented us from reaching large groups of voters. This mid-20th century approach is impersonal, fails to account for the modern ways that Americans consume information, and leaves many citizens out of the political process.

I co-founded The Tuesday Company to bring the best practices of community organizing online. Our mobile app, Team, allows campaigns, nonprofits, and unions to build digital communities that reach more people, increase civic engagement, and help movements build power.

2) What is relational organizing and why is it important?Frankly, I believe all good organizing is relational. Relational organizing is simply friends talking to friends about the things that they care about. It is the natural way to build relationships with members of your community, which is exactly what organizers do! Plus, it’s proven to be more impactful than outreach by strangers. Think about it: we’re more likely to try restaurants or check out new TV shows if recommended to us by friends and people we trust. Why wouldn’t it be the same with civic action?

3) Where/how has it been done well in the past?
The Obama ‘08 and ‘12 campaigns used relational organizing to harness the excitement of President Obama’s supporters and encourage them to talk about him in their own communities. The campaign provided the personal attention, helpful instruction, and exciting motivation that used relational organizing to transform supporters into President Obama’s brand ambassadors. As a result, volunteers were ready to share why they supported Barack Obama when they visited friends and called neighbors. Additionally, faith-based community organizations, workers rights groups, and environmental advocates have been doing ‘relational organizing’ for decades.

4) What is Team/The Tuesday Company?
The Tuesday Company brings the best practices of community organizing online. Our mobile app, Team, opens up direct communication between organizations and their supporters to build a home for your organizing effort..

Team’s efficacy rests on its ability to digitally scale trust-based relationships - and especially the sense of community and belonging these relationships create - so that organizers can activate supporters to take meaningful action. We have organizations of all sizes that use Team for rapid response, to assemble and deploy online armies of retweeters, and to expand their reach beyond target contact lists.

5) Why is it particularly important this cycle?
In our experience, digital community-building and friend-to-friend contact on Team leads to engagement rates of over 80% and can be 20X more effective than traditional outreach methods, particularly among low-income, millennial, and minority groups.

In our time of super close elections, it has never been more important to engage every single voter. Tech products like Team allow organizations to engage more people at once in a trackable, scalable way. Also, by meeting people in the digital space we’re increasing the total number of supporters contacted by field programs and diversifying who is engaged.

Team isn’t just being embraced by organizations, but also by the supporters themselves. People are craving ways to take immediate, tangible action for the campaigns and causes they care about. A supporter using Team is 250x more likely to share content than a Facebook follower. This is because they feel engaged with the organization and know they are an integral part of that organization’s success, rather than being a passive follower of a page.

6) Who is involved?
Entrepreneurship, politics, and tech are industries notoriously dominated by white men. From Day 1 as our COO, I insisted we institute HR policies to ensure we could recruit the best and the brightest - from all walks of life. To give you some context:

50% of our technical employees are women, 75% of our sales team are women, and 60% of our Director-level staff are women. Our software engineers are 100% immigrants or people of color. Approximately 25% of founders and staff identify as LGTBQ, and our CTO is a military veteran.

These stats are pretty astounding for any company, let alone a political tech company. We believe that the best technology is built by people who are as diverse as the communities the tool seeks to serve, and we’re proud to walk that walk. I truly couldn’t be more proud of the team behind Team.

7) What are some examples of the best ways to use Team?
During the 2018 Midterms, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) deployed Team nationally to help flip 40 of 41 seats in the House of Representatives from red-to-blue. In Illinois’ 6th Congressional District, Sean Casten for Congress turned every supporter into a digital influencer. On one memorable night, hundreds of supporters attended house parties across the district because they were invited by their friends – via Team. At these parties, attendees met the candidate via live stream and downloaded Team. Before leaving, each one of those supporters received a personalized greeting inside the app from a campaign staffer. These messages strengthened bonds between organizers and supporters and increased long-term engagement.

However, Team isn’t only for electoral campaigns. In fact, some of our best use cases were from issue advocacy organizations like Stand Up for Ohio and unions like AFSCME Council 5 in Minnesota. Team works with these organizations’ already existing field programs to make an impact on a meaningful scale.

Now, four major presidential campaigns are using Team to amplify their messages during live debates and to combat misinformation online. We are really excited for how these campaigns will weave Team into their national field programs.

8) If folks used Team last cycle what will they find new and different this time?
One of our biggest innovations last cycle was the introduction of Team Chat - a community feature that connects organizers with volunteers. This feature allowed organizers to build relationships with volunteers, and to transform these relationships into action-oriented digital communities.

Since the last cycle, we’ve expanded our set of community-building features. We made it possible for supporters to talk to each other on Team Chat through a group function, allowing organizations to foster a sense of community by connecting supporters together.

Another fantastic new feature came from feedback of organizations like yours: Team’s Share Drawer allows supporters to share content through their personal accounts on virtually any digital platform including Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram DMs. In fact, a supporter using Team is 250x more likely to share content than a Facebook follower.

9) What new features or partners are you excited about coming up (if you can tell us)?
We are finishing up a feature that allows supporters on Team to reach people in their community without needing a phone number. They can canvass anyone, anytime, anywhere! Often called ‘street canvassing’, the idea is that an LGTBQ advocacy org could send its supporters out to canvass at a Pride Parade or a labor union could send its members to canvass members from other locals who they don’t know at the state convention. Street canvassing empowers Team users to take action that supports the organizations they care about, even without much guidance from their organizers.

We just recently updated Team’s content sharing features. Now, organizers can upload anything (eg a petition, a video, a fundraising link - you name it) and supporters can create a post on their platform of choice with that content and script as the basis. This opens the door for supporters to drive conversations as trusted messengers on Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, GroupMe, Snapchat, Facebook, and more.

In terms of partnerships this year, we’re excited to be supporting many advocacy organizations working around the 2020 Census. We’re also supporting lots of long-term organizing efforts for both state parties and nonprofits. Finally, we’re thrilled to be helping labor unions engage their members and grow their membership.

10) What else do you want our readers to know?
We live in an era of fake news, expansive voter suppression efforts, and unbelievably large sums of money in politics. We are also living in a moment when hundreds of thousands of people are marching in the streets, tens of thousands are becoming first time candidates, and many millions are being raised in small amounts from everyday people looking to make an incremental difference.

We built a tool for the organizer who wants to build a community of active, passionate supporters. Team is a resource for the supporter who wants to take meaningful actions and have conversations with their friends about the causes and candidates they care about. It enables a rapid response on social to share the amazing stories of candidates and supporters. With Team, users join a community of supporters, bring more voices into the discussion, and empower others to take action.

At The Tuesday Company, we are creating technology to build a more connected, inclusive world. I can’t think of a higher or better use of my time!

Thanks so much, Shola! You can find out more about Team/The Tuesday Company here.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

It's An Election Year! Help Out These Races In Virginia.

One of my biggest pet peeves is the term "off-year." I get what people mean, but the reality is that important elections are happening every single year. The most famous set of "off-year" elections happen in the Virginia Legislature, although off year elections occur in New Jersey, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, and municipalities from New York to St.Paul.This year some of the things at stake in Virginia are passing the ERA, raising the minimum wage and of course the redistricting process.

If you, like me, are weirded out about an autumn without an election, have no fear! Click here to sign up to make calls for some of these important races! ***NOW UPDATED WITH TX and MS RACES AS WELL**

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Do You Know The Faces That Are Running for President?

Kirsten Gillibrand, Jay Inslee, Seth Moultan, John Hickenlooper and Eric Swalwell have all dropped out but there are still a BUNCH of candidates in this race, even as nearly half of them didn't qualify for the next debate. Before more candidates drop out I thought it would be fun to see how many we can identify based on their faces alone. H/t to this Politico article for the pictures and for Kelly Dietrich the (long overdue in publishing) idea.

I'm going to post the individual pictures of the candidates below with their names blocked out and then post them as a group names in. I will tell you honestly I'm not sure I would have gotten 100%. Comment below and let me know how you did!

(Click to enlarge)

How did you do? Comment below!