Project Wonderful

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ask An Election Nerd: Small Campaign Blues

I have gotten this question (in various forms) a lot lately.
I worked for OFA as an FO in NC this past year and loved the intensity, but now I'm on a smaller municipal election and find myself bored and unchallenged. We have a lot of vols and are in a very competitive race but I have nothing to do during the day (I don't understand why we all have to be at the office all day when we can't make calls or canvass). I was looking into a gubernatorial or congressional race in the future, but am reconsidering for fear they will be as boring as this one. Are other races as intense as Presidential ones and what should I do outside of call time and canvassing?

I think I answered some of these questions here, so please read that entry first, but I'd like to use this space to further expound.

First of all, I would say yes, Senate, competitive Gubernatorial and even some larger Congressional races have much more in common with Presidential races. Even the NYC Mayor's race is a pretty huge operation. You get that statewide (or at least several-office wide) family feeling and organizer responsibilities and goals tend to be strictly delineated and hierarchy more enforced. There also tends to be more excitement and media attention surrounding the race. In full disclosure, I prefer this model but there are definite benefits to smaller races. Again, please read more here.

Second of all, all races move more slowly at the beginning. Many organizers did not join OFA until 6 months or later out from the election, when things are naturally busier and more exciting. Longer campaigns are marathons, not sprints. I learned this the hard way when I burnt myself out going from a 3 month Senatorial to a year-long stint as an organizer in the Iowa caucus. Maybe you just haven't geared up yet.

That said, I have been on smaller races that were absolutely as intense a Presidential.You should not feel like you have nothing to do. This seems to me like a failure in management. What's going on here? If you can't do voter contact (why can't you do voter contact?) during these hours I would talk to your boss. Find out what she expects from you during these hours and how else can you be useful to the campaign. Often on smaller campaigns organizers straddle field/finance/candidate staffing responsibilities, so maybe there is work for you elsewhere. I am a big believer in working smarter and harder rather than longer for longer's sake. Like any managerial campaign relationship, your supervisors need to respect your time. It's okay if you're not pulling 12 hour days in the beginning, but if you are pulling 12 hour days, there should be a reason.

I can hear your frustration and I feel for you. Time-wasting is my biggest pet peeve of all! Keep us updated on how it turns out!

Campaign Love and Mine,

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