Project Wonderful

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Today In Voter Suppression: Eric Holder Takes On Ohio and Wisconsin

Wall Street Journal:
"The Obama administration filed court papers Wednesday challenging Republican-backed election laws in Ohio and Wisconsin, as the legal fights over voting rights spread beyond traditional Southern borders.

In Wisconsin, the Justice Department filed a brief supporting a previous federal court ruling against the state's photo identification requirement, which was deemed unfair to minority voters. In Ohio, the Justice Department weighed in against a law limiting early voting and same day registration."
Read the rest here.

The Benefits To Starting In Field

(#TBT my broworkers and me at my first victory party.)

Field seems to have the stigma of being an undesirable department within a campaign. Most entry level campaign jobs are in field, and so there is a false belief that other positions are more prestigious because they're harder to come by. Don't get me wrong, there are absolutely upsides to beginning your campaign career in another department. I don't want to be guilty of advising you to take a particular path just because it is the one that I took. It's just that the benefits of starting as a field organizer are rarely discussed, while other entry level positions seem to be vaunted. So here they are. Decide for yourself.

1.)Field connects you to and prepares you for every aspect of a campaign. As one FOCS put it, "If you "get" field, you can handle just about anything a campaign throws at you. In my opinion, in field, you get the best hands-on experience because field work provides the backbone for a campaign. Want to do finance? Learning the art of the hard-ask through volunteer recruitment is essential. Want to do operations? Learning what is really needed to make sure a field team is set up for success is key. Want to do communications? Being able to develop a person's personal story through 1:1's is so important. Want to do data? You'll need to know the ins and outs of how field inputs what data."

2.)Field is the most social (and fun!) department. As I said above, field is often the biggest department on a campaign. When it comes to a high profile Senate, Gubernatorial or Presidential race, field staff can number past a hundred. Statewide trainings, regional field offices where you practically spend all day with your coworkers, and big events that pull together staff from different regions, foster the kind of fun team mentality and collegiate, collegial atmosphere that you hear campaign veterans reminisce about. The stuff that often attracts people to campaign life in the first place. Plus the ability to wear shorts to the office and work with volunteers (some of whom can be very entertaining) in a brightly decorated office all day doesn't hurt either.

3.)Field trains you to be a manager. There is no other job on a campaign where you are managing people from day one. During my first GOTV fresh out of college I had over 200 people under me. This is a very translateable bullet point no matter what you do after your first cycle. If you continue to come up through field you go from managing volunteers to managing the people who manage the volunteers to managing those people. Many finance or data people get pigeon holed in those paths, but field people go on to successive levels of management, or various other campaign departments, and ultimately to be some of the best campaign managers.

4.)Field creates a common bond. Because such a large percentage of political people start out on field campaigns, being an organizer is a common reference point among campaign people and even those who work in the administration or on the hill. Like the pledging a sorority or your freshman year on the field hockey team, being an organizer is in some ways the toughest part of campaigning, but also the most (positively) memorable.

5.)Field is what campaigns do. I always say the coolest thing about field is that no matter how much money or press goes into an election, a race can still be won by neighbors talking to neighbors. After all, what are commercials, talking points and independent expenditures for but to convince the people you interact with every day? Working in field means having your ear to the ground, which is essential if you ever want to manage, work in a government office, lobby, or be a candidate yourself one day. There is no better way to prepare for a career in politics than to start out by talking to voters.

So there you have it! FIELD FOREVER!!!!!!!! (But seriously, do whatever feels right to you just keep the above in mind.)

Peace, Love and Walk Lists,


What To Ask At An Informational Interview

'Tis the season for informational interviews, at least judging by the number of requests I've gotten. Those of you who read CampaignSick frequently know I am a big fan of the informational interview as a knowledge gathering and/or networking device. However, asking for an informational interview is just the first step. What you ask at the interview is just as important (obviously.) Some people really hit it out of the park and some people...really don't. (Hit it in the park? Swing and miss?) Here is some general advice gathered from the informational interviews I've been asked to participate in lately. Obviously what to ask depends on why you're holding the interview, but here are some ideas.

Good Questions to Ask
"What skills and experiences will prepare me to do_______?"
Sometimes you know where you are and you know where you want to be in 5 years, but you're not sure what your next step is. This is a question to help figure out what you need to do to position yourself toward your end goal without asking for a one size fits all prescription.

"What do you wish you had known __ years ago?"
I ask this of pretty much anyone I get the chance to interview for any reason because I think the answers are always fascinating. It also gives you stuff to consider in your personal and professional development. People love answering this question so it's a great way to get someone to open up.

"What do you wish you had known before you took your current job?"/"What does your typical day look like?"
These are good questions to help decide if your interviewee's career or current organization is a good fit for you. This also helps prepare you if do wind up following in their footsteps.

"Who else should I be talking to?"
This provides a natural lead in to asking for your interviewee's networking help and helps connect you to great people you might not have met otherwise. "Oh really? Nancy Leeds. That's a great idea! Would you be willing to introduce me?"

"Is it ok if I get in touch with you about_____?"
Another good, low pressure way to ask for help and ensure you have a reason to continue the relationship after this meeting.

Questions Not to Ask
"What is your job/title?"
If you don't know who they are or what they do then why do you want to talk to them?

"Can you help me get a job doing_____?"
Your interviewee is there to provide advice, not headhunting services. They may offer to help after you have a conversation, but they have not agreed to do so just by meeting with you. This question, especially before they get to know you, is off-putting and presumptuous.

"I know you work in X, but can you tell me about Y?"
If you're not sure what you want to do, that's fine. Do more than one interview. Asking your interviewee questions outside of their expertise makes you look unprepared and will leave them with a bad taste in their mouth. Everyone loves giving advice but most people don't like not knowing the answer to a question. This can make your conversation go sour, fast.

"I want to do X, but I'm not willing to take the steps to do it."
This is a complaint, not a question. It's usually not phrased so directly, but I put it here as a stand in to any question or statement that basically says, "I want to get ahead in this business without doing the work that everyone else has done" (Ex: "I want to a field director on a congressional next cycle but I really don't want to be an organizer first.") Yes, there is more than one way to climb the professional ladder, but if you're not willing to do the work you're probably not going to get the job. Keep in mind the person you are interviewing probably went through these steps themselves (ahem) so it can be insulting to imply that you're too good to do the work they've already done.

"What do you want to know about me...?"
You are the interviewer. They are the interviewee. Hopefully you wind up sharing your story over the course of the interview or even in your initial introduction, but it is not your interviewee's job to draw it out of you.

Additional Advice
Google First.
I've talked about this before, but don't ask your interviewee anything you could have found out googling them.

Follow Up.
I've mentioned this before too. If you tell the interviewee you are going to send your resume, make sure you do so. Either way write a note (email is fine) thanking them and reminding them of any next steps they promised to take on your behalf.

Define your objective.
Always tell your interviewee why you've asked to speak with them. Are you thinking of changing careers? Do you want to wind up in their position? Are you looking to figure out your next steps? This will help give direction to the interaction and naturally encourage them to proactively think about the best ways to help you.

Be Obsequious.
One of the biggest reasons that people agree to informational interviews is because it's flattering. Make sure to be appreciative and let them know you value their time and advice.

Realize Everyone Has a Point of View.
This point was made in a recent guest post,and it's something I've noticed for a long time. People want you to follow their path because it validates their choices. When I finished grad school I alternatively had people telling me, "go into finance" or "don't go into finance" as if it were gospel. People who had husbands and kids told me to make sure I picked a job that gave me work life balance. People who hadn't started families told me not to plan around a personal life. Advice is great, but ultimately you'll have to make the choices that fit your priorities and make you happy.

Happy Interviewing!


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Adventures in Mississippi

Many of you know I work at the wonderful Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund in Washington, DC. Last week I was in Mississippi building the groundwork to elect LGBT candidates in 2015 and 2017. For this reason it may seem like I fell behind on my blogging mission to write 31 posts in 31 days. In fact, I was blogging every day, it just wasn't here. I won't try to be sneaky and count all my work blog posts toward my CampaignSick goal, but I met some REALLY amazing people and came back really excited to share. *This would be a good time to remind you that the views expressed on CampaignSick are mine and not those of my employer or candidates, except in this case when they are.

Click here to be directed to the Victory Fund Adventures in Mississippi Blog!

Campaign Love and Mine,


The $5,000 Campaign Training Controversy

I've gotten a lot of questions about a recent article that began thusly:
"Two top veterans of President Obama’s campaigns are asking political campaigners to pay $5,000 per person for the chance to learn their secrets and then work for five weeks in an unpaid campaign job somewhere in America."
The criticism being that 270 Strategies is asking international activists to pay $5,000 to volunteer on campaigns.

It is rare that a controversy arises within the campaign world that I simply have no opinion on. I guess that's true here as well, but I need more information. What does the $5,000 cover (travel, housing, meals, a personalized plan etc)? How did they come up with that budget? These guys are too smart and experienced (I hope) for this to simply be a case of them buying their own hype.

270 Strategies did respond publicly to the criticism, but did not address the above questions. I don't really have commentary outside of what I've said, the article, and 270 Strategies' response. However, it is a big deal in the campaign community so I wanted to put it out there as something to be interested in and aware of. I will be sure to share updates as they unfold.

At the very least, I can't help but wonder what it means that our community was so quick to turn on the brains behind Obama's field program, or for that matter that this was communicated so poorly. Whoa, if true.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ask An Election Nerd: How Does One Get An Entry Level Campaign Job Outside The Field Department?

Hello! You've posted some good posts about finding jobs and how you got started on campaigns working as an organizer. Do you have an advice for an upcoming college grad who's interested in working on campaigns but simply LOATHES the prospect of doing field work? It seems to be the only entry level job I hear campaign operatives talk about but having volunteered for campaigns in the past I know its not something I'm interested in doing full time...
Thanks for your question! After recovering from my initial knee-jerk reaction to anyone who refuses to work in field, I got to bounce your question off a couple of coworkers, one of whom started in field and then went on to manage and one of whom started and continues to work in finance.

The consensus among the three of us is that first you should consider why you "loathe" working in field. Common complaints about field include the long hours, the stress, the abuse you take from local stakeholders and the awkwardness of making cold calls. If these are your objections to field work, then campaigns in general are probably not for you. Finance, which is probably the second most available entry level campaign position, includes all of these drawbacks in spades. Also, as a junior staffer when the campaign approaches GOTV you will more than likely get absorbed into field. So keep that in mind.

Now, field positions are the most available at the entry level because there are the more of them. Even a large statewide campaign could have 100 field organizers but would be lucky to have even 5 finance assistants. If you are interested in working in a non-field department (which, by the way, might include research, finance, communications, operations and scheduling) your best bet is to apply to jobs early and before they are advertised. One coworker brought up the great point that when you see a posting for a Comms or Finance Director you should send your resume and let them know you are interested when they get around to hiring entry level positions in that department. That way when that director is hired and needs a staff, your resume is the first in the pile. You might also contact a campaign soon after a candidate announces and let them know you are interested when they start staffing up. Campaigns tend to have openings very suddenly (ie. when they get the money) and fill them very quickly. Letting your interest be known in a way that acknowledges that you understand that reality by being available but not pushy will work in your favor.

I would encourage you to seek out informational interviews with people who have worked in your department of interest. First, they will be able to give you an idea of what the day to day of an entry level job entails and whether it would be a good fit for you. Second, they will likely have networks in those specific areas of campaigns and be able to push your resume or let you know when their former colleagues are hiring. Note, I suggest contacting people who took the cycle off or now work at PACs, government offices or non-profits, since those currently on campaigns may not have the bandwidth to help network on your behalf.

Finally, if you are a Democrat and want to work in finance check out EMILYs List. They have a fantastic reputation for their finance trainings and also for placing staff on the ground afterward.

Best of Luck!

(Expect an upcoming post on why field is great.)

Campaign Love and Mine,


Monday, July 28, 2014

EASY Voting Act

H.R.5144 or the Equal Access to Support Youth Voting Act (EASY Voting Act)

"A Bill To amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require States which require individuals to present a photo identification as a condition of voting in elections for Federal office to accept a photo identification presented by a student which is issued by the school the student attends." Basically it says if a state is going to require voter ID, that state has to accept official school issued student IDs. Because congress only has jurisdiction in federal elections, those are the only elections in which the bill would apply.

Good show, Congresspeople Cleaver,Cohen,Schiff, Jackson Lee, and Pocan who sponsored the bill.Of course as this op-ed points out, just because it makes sense and enfranchises voters doesn't mean it's going to pass. What a world we live in.

Michele Bachmann Hints At A Run (For Worst Person)

As far as I can tell, Michele Bachmann was reading my blog and about Ron Knecht wanting to cut rape prevention and Renee Ellmers basically calling women stupid and she was like, "I gotta get in on this too."

People think her latest hate-spout is a hint at running for President, but it makes waaaay more sense that it's a hint at running for worst person in the world. Think about it. Why would we want a President who fear mongers about pedophilia? But worst person? She's up there with the greatest. This time she accused the LGBT community of working to "abolish age of consent laws, which means we will do away with statutory rape laws so that adults will be able to freely prey on little children sexually. That's the deviance that we're seeing embraced in our culture today."

When asked about a possible repeat Presidential run Bachmann said, “I think if a person has gone through the process — for instance, I had gone through 15 presidential debates — it’s easy to see a person’s improvement going through that.” Oh boy! In fairness, who can really blame Bachmann for her homophobia? The last time she ran for president she was attacked by a gay robot.

Even More Rules for Campaign Staffers

An FOCS recently tagged me in a post on Facebook about this article from the New Media Firm. The rules laid out therein are more or less a mashup of the 15 Commandments and 10 Rules for Savvy Campaign Staffers but since both of those lists were passed down to me from generations of yore who got them from whom is hard to say. In any case, they could always use reinforcement. So I give you...

Will Robinson’s Rules for Campaign Staffers
1. If it’s not in writing it doesn’t exist.
2. No such thing as “off the record.” (Reporters are not your friends!)
3. Do not hold a private conversation in a public place. (This includes cellular phones and planes!)
4. Don’t believe any number that ends in zero.
5. Never turn down an opportunity to eat or go to the bathroom. (Don’t eat anything that you don’t recognize or can’t pronounce.)
6. Don’t spend any of your own money. (Personal) Don’t even admit you own a credit card. Don’t spend money that is not yours. (Authorized)
7. Not always a “right” or “wrong” answer – “It depends”
8. In a campaign, someone has to be in charge – campaigns are a place to foster democracy, not practice it.
9. Assume nothing.
10. If you make a mistake, fix it before analyzing, etc. (Bad news doesn’t age well.)

State-By-State Election/Democracy Fun Facts!

Hey all! You know whenever an organizer comes in from out of town locals inevitably give them the "that might be how it works in x, but that's now how we do things here" spiel? While that's largely untrue, one of the joys of campaigning is learning the little eccentricities that make each state proud or unique. I've been working on this post for a while, and I wanted to share at least one little loosely election-related fact for each of these states united. Some have more! Feel free to correct any errors or add your own! And if you enjoy CampaignSick, please don't forget to subscribe as a patron!

Campaign Love and Mine,

Hawaii has its primaries on a Saturday.
New York has its federal and local/state level primaries on different days.
Mississippi, Louisiana, New Jersey and Virginia have off year legislative elections.
Kentucky has off year gubernatorial but not state senate elections.
Nebraska had a non-partisan, unicameral legislature.
At over 6,000, Illinois has more units of government (i.e., city, county, township, etc.) than any other state.
Maine and Nebraska allocate their electoral votes by congressional district rather than on a winner takes all basis.
In 2002, Arizona became the first state to allow online voter registration.
In Missouri, a person can register to vote online and electronically provide a signature using a mobile device, tablet computer or touchscreen computer, but not a standard desktop computer.
Oregon and Washington are vote by mail states.
North Dakota has no voter registration.
In 1945, Georgia became the first state to lower the legal voting age from 21 to 18.
Two states, Maine and Vermont, allow felons to vote from prison.
The first formal government framework outlining a representative body was the Fundamental Orders adopted by the Connecticut Colony council in 1639. This is where Connecticut got the nickname "The Constitution State."
Alabama has the longest still operative constitution of anywhere in the world. It is 40 times longer than the US Constitution.
Delaware was the first state to ratify the United States Constitution (hence its nickname "the first state").
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is called the cradle of liberty because it was where both the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution were written (duh.) It is also where the first American Flag was sewn, and Betsy Ross was a badass.
Three states, Texas, West Virginia and Michigan, have straight ticket voting.
Arkansas is the only state to have had a seat in its legislature held by a member of the Green Party.
Unaffiliated and third party voters make up a majority of the electorate in Massachusetts and Alaska.
According to Gallup Rhode Island is the most Democratic state and Utah is the most Republican.
"None of These Candidates" is a voting option listed on the ballot in Nevada along with candidates for President of the United States and state constitutional positions. It recently won the Democratic primary for Governor.
The Republican party was founded in Ripon, Wisconsin in 1854 as a new anti-slavery party.
New Hampshire traditionally holds the first primaries in the country, Iowa has the first caucuses.
In Alaska and Idaho, the Democratic party has open primaries while the Republican party has closed primaries.
Maryland's 3rd congressional district has the honor of being the most gerrymandered district in the country.
Florida ( much to say) is the only state with a constitution that (through amendments) prohibits partisan gerrymandering.
In 2008 Oklahoma was the only state in which John McCain won every county.
Minnesota had the highest voter turnout in 2012 and 2008.
In 2012, West Virginia was the only state with a voter turnout of below 50%.
Mississippi saw the greatest voter turnout increase between 2008 and 2012.
South Dakota saw the greatest drop in voter turnout between 2008 and 2012.
In 2012 Wisconsin became the first state to elect an openly gay senator. (Tammy Baldwin!)
California was the first state to have two female Senators at once.
Wyoming (when it was still a territory) was the first state to give women the right to vote.
Montana was the first state to send a woman to Congress (Jeannette Rankin) even before women had universal suffrage in the US.
In 1894 the first women to serve a state legislature were elected in Colorado.
The recorded first female mayor in the world was Susanna Salter of Argonia, Kansas.
In 2012 New Hampshire became the first and only state with an all female congressional delegation.
Tennessee was the last state to ratify the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.
Vermont has the highest percentage of women in its legislature, but has never sent a woman to Congress.
Mississippi sent the first African American Senator to the Senate. (Hiram Revels!)
South Carolina elected the first African American Congressman (Joseph Rainey!)
In New Mexico, Native Americans make up 10% of eligible voters.
North Carolina has the lowest rate of Union membership (and hence union voters) in the United States.
The American Federation of Labor (AFL) was organized in Terre Haute, Indiana in 1881.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ask An Election Nerd: I'm Getting Overruled By My Consultants!

What kind of advice do you give to a CM in name only (CMINO - or is that redundant)? I have no power of the purse, the strategist is running the show, the candidate is bossy, and even my admin/FD is shitting on me because she sees the other ones doing it. I understand not having authority (I know, that expectation would be "adorable", as one submission put it), but these limits are keeping me from being able to do my job! What can I do? What can of whoop-ass can I open?
Good question! You have the “benefit” of my boyfriend who is a consultant having been with me when I received this question. In the interest of giving you the fullest information, consultant boyfriend says you are being pushed out and if you really feel you are ineffective then you should leave. So there’s that. I take a slightly more nuanced view below.

You are certainly not alone. As a first-time campaign manager I too found myself executing a plan written by our general and mail consultants who just happened to be good friends with the candidate. On the one hand, it was frustrating not to have autonomy especially since I had dreamed for years of managing a campaign of my very own. On the other hand, I learned so much from our consultants. After all, they had years of experience on me and expertise in areas of campaign management (particularly communications) to which I had never been exposed. To their absolute credit, our consultants allowed me to grow as an operative by explaining why they made certain decisions, coaching me through press releases and allowing me to take credit for decisions when my instincts were correct. Now that I am in a position to do so, I often recommend this firm to my candidates in large part because I know how good they are at working with first time candidates and managers.

Obviously, I don’t know you or the consultants involved. It could be that they are wrong and you are right in these situations, but based on my own experiences, I tend to doubt it. If you were hired after, or particularly by, the consultants (a not uncommon practice) there is a good chance you were in fact hired to execute the day to day of their strategy. If this is the case, the more you push back the more they will circumnavigate you or discount your opinion, even when you have something valuable to contribute. For all these reasons (and I know you’re not going to like this) I suggest accepting a more deferential role and learning from this experience.

As a side note, this thing with your Field Director is totally unacceptable. In that regard, I think you need to have a frank conversation with your candidate and the consultants about your role on the campaign. If you’re getting overruled by consultants in private that’s one thing, but you don’t fight in front of the kids. Once reached, senior level decisions no matter whose decision they really were, should be presented in a united, and mutually respectful, front to the candidate, kitchen cabinet, volunteers and other staff.

That is a tough situation and I certainly feel for you! Feel free to send and update on what you chose to do.

Campaign Love and Mine,


Please don't forget to support!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Ask An Election Nerd: To Campaign or Not To Campaign?

First of all, I love your blog! I graduated from college a year ago, studying PoliSci, and have had a really comfortable job at a nonprofit for a year. We are going through a merger, which seems like a natural time to leave if I want to, and I have the opportunity to quit and work on a campaign. I really want to explore a career in politics, but I can't decide if I should leave my stable calm lifestyle for the uncertainty of campaigning! How do I choose what to do?!

Not knowing you or the circumstances surrounding your life I say, "Go for it!" There is no better way to know whether you want to do something with your career than to try it and no better time to try working on campaigns than when you are fresh (or practically fresh) out of college. In general, the older you get, the less practical it becomes to drop everything and go work in the field. Especially when you are just starting out, you can get a gig on a campaign for only three or four months, so in that sense the investment is minimal.

There are some things to consider before I recklessly encourage you to take the plunge. Campaigns are physically and mentally taxing. You don't need to be a paragon of fitness or mental healthy by any means, but you do need to be in a place where you can work long hours in a fast-paced, stressful environment. Also, what will you do immediately after? Most campaign families will help you find your next job after the race is over, but that is by no means immediate or guaranteed. If you have nowhere to go (ie friends' couches, parents' house) or will be in crippling debt if you find yourself unemployed for a couple of months, then this might not be the time to make a move.

The tradeoff between stability and excitement is one I've often debated myself, and one that campaign people continue to debate throughout their careers. As you will note every person who written a "What I Wish I Had Known at 30" post thus far notes that their favorite thing about being in their 20's was the adventure and energy of being on campaigns. I will tell you that even my friends who only worked one or two cycles and ultimately decided it wasn't for them don't regret the experience. It is grueling, rewarding, intense, passionate, fulfilling work and I wouldn't trade a second of it. I hope you find the same to be true!

See you in the field?


Ask An Election Nerd: What Makes A Good RFD?

Hey Nancy. First, this blog is what gets me through call time every day. Second of all, I was wondering what the ideal RFD is like? I've worked on non profit campaigns before, but never as a FO for a candidate, so I'm not completely sure how they should act. My co-FO's and I having a hard time with her, mostly because of they way she treats us and volunteers, and her poor time management skills. We try to empower our volunteers, but she treats them more or less like unpaid robots.
It sounds like you might just want the space to vent, which is totally okay. Not everyone is a good manager and not everyone's management style works for everyone else. When you are dealing with that fact day in and day out far away from the friends and family who usually keep you grounded, the situation can be maddening. For an example of a time when I had trouble dealing with my regional field director click here. My experience in that post is somewhat specific, but I would always encourage empathy when conflict of personalities arises on campaigns,which by the way is not to suggest that your experience is invalid. I hear you and that sucks. Treating staff or volunteers like robots is not cool!

Your question was, "what is an ideal RFD like?" I'm not sure whether that was rhetorical, but I'm going to answer it anyway. I would say there is no "ideal" RFD because different styles of leadership work for different people. I was super lucky that I connected with so well with my first Regional or we might not be here today. There are lots of different ways to be good at your job (although I would argue not as many ways as there are to be bad at it.) That said, here are some things that I think make a great RFD.

1)Remember that you are a facilitator. As an RFD your number one job is to advocate for your organizers and get them the tools they need to meet their goals, whether that be training, resources, opportunities for their volunteers etc. Likewise it is your job to get what headquarters needs from your region by holding your organizers accountable. You are essentially in a service position. It's an endless cycle of facilitating between the two.

2)Don't ask anyone to do work you're not willing to do yourself. By all means, make your organizers do six hour call time, make your orgs do seven hour call time if that's what it takes to win, but you better do at least some of it with them. You know, like a person.

3)Work harder than anyone you supervise. Nothing breeds resentment more than routinely getting into work before and leaving after your boss. Lead by example.

4)Spring for a beer every once in a while. Or buy lunch. When the region gets a chance to send one member to an exciting surrogate event, don't nominate yourself. As my buddy Mark recently advised me (paraphrased), "What's the point in being the boss if you can't take advantage every once in a while? But not until you've taken care of your people."

5)Explain why. Just as with interns and volunteers organizers will be more motivated if they understand why they are being asked to do the work they do and how it fits into the bigger picture. Once you've done a couple of cycles the why of field becomes obvious, but you cannot reinforce the importance of your organizers roles enough.

Hang in there!

Campaign Love and Mine,


PS. Was this advice helpful to you? Please consider becoming a Patron.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Flow Chart Voter Contact Script

This flow chart script is the invention of FOCS Emily Savin. I have not tried it myself but I had to share! Feel free to send YOUR campaign innovations to! Happy Saturday!

Emily says: Volunteers usually think the flowchart looks way too complicated at first, but once they understand it, they find it easier to work with than a regular linear script. (I recommend having both available.) Particularly when the script has a lot of parts (e.g., IDs and a volunteer ask and a lawn sign ask), the flowchart really helps phone bankers stay on track.

For this flowchart, I would tell the volunteer, "The white boxes are for the words you say. The shaded boxes show you what to do." I'd walk a volunteer through a sample call and guide him along the chart with my finger. I'd also say, "Speak naturally and make this your own-- we don't want you to sound like a robot-- but you do need to say the words in bold exactly as they are written, because that's a message we have to get across."

Microsoft Publisher, Powerpoint, and some versions of Word have the capacity to create flowcharts, and there are a number of free online services for making flowcharts as well.

Thanks for everything, Nancy! You've got my vote.

Yes! This! This Article Here!

My general feeling on ivory tower political scientists who comment on campaigns is about a 4. In my experience these individuals fall into two camps: those who are so far removed from the realities of campaign life that their work is totally misinformed or irrelevant and those who come to the right conclusions by proving things so obvious one wonders why they need to be investigated at all.

Once in a while however, this type of investigation proves useful if only because it serves as a great big "I told you so" to field program skeptics. For this reason, I was thrilled to read a Washington Post synopsis of "Mobilizing Inclusion, Transforming the Electorate through Get-Out-the-Vote Campaigns" by professors Lisa GarcĂ­a Bedolla and Melissa R. Michelson (who, I'm just pointing out, are women). Let's get to it.

Michelson asserts that "What really mobilizes these voters is repeated personal contacting." (Can I get an amen in here?!?!) She goes on to describe her research which included,

"268 get-out-the-vote field experiments conducted repeatedly across six electoral cycles from 2006 to 2008. These field experiments were focused on communities with a history of low participation and were conducted in partnership with non-partisan community-based organizations...

Our analysis shows that citizens who haven’t voted much in the past can be inspired by either door-to-door visits or live phone calls. Tellingly, our research shows that such contacts, especially if repeated, can produce habitual voters. Phone banks from which callers contact the same potential voters twice are especially effective in creating committed voters. Door-to-door campaigns also showed strong results, with one such effort increasing voter turnout by more than 40 percentage points. (To be sure, most get-out-the-vote campaigns produce smaller gains.)..

"Personal contact to encourage voting can be enough to cause many low-income minority people to see themselves anew, as the sorts of people who regularly go to the polls on Election Day. In turn, voting even once can become habit forming, reinforcing self-identification as “a voter” long after the initial conversation with a canvasser. What is more, voter contacts have strong spillover effects within households, boosting participation by others as much as 60 percent."

I can't wait to read this book!

Campaign Love and Mine,


Friday, July 18, 2014

Ask An Election Nerd: How Do I Translate Campaign Skills To a Non-Campaign Resume?

Dear Nancy,

I wondered if you might be able to give me some field-related advice. I've been transitioning out of campaigns and into other things, and I've found it difficult to explain in concise, jargon-free language exactly what it is a field director does. It's a massive job, as you know, and I want to do it justice, but I keep thinking of more things that need to be added to it. There are so many skills involved: statistics, project management, people management, data management, crisis management, logistics, outreach, community building, diplomacy, etc.

I keep on remembering more things involved: besides the basic things like writing the field and GOTV plans, and training and supervising FOs and ensuring that they make voter contact goals (which are themselves complicated operations to explain), there are so many little but important things: crafting simple but effective phone scripts, coordinating GOTV logistics, overseeing out-of-state vol housing, setting up good systems for data management that hundreds of vols can make sense of....

I know you're still in this business, but I remember from your blog that you went to grad school; did you ever have to explain what field is during your application process? If you have any suggestions for bullet-pointing this stuff, I'd love to hear them.

Thanks again for Campaignsick. It always makes me smile.

Great question! Editing down one's resume is never easy, but it is especially daunting when switching careers. It's hard to know exactly what advice to give you without knowing what kinds of jobs you're applying for, but I'll do my best.

1)Tailor your resume to the job. Don't worry so much about how to express what you did, concentrate on showing that you have the skills and experience to do what they need you to do. Whenever you embark on a new job hunt, you should save a "master" version of your resume that includes all your job related skills and experiences in bullet points, even if this version is longer than a page. Then when you apply for jobs, you can pick and choose the bullets to include on your resume based on the specific job you're applying for. You're right. You can't possibly include everything you did as a Field Director, so the trick is narrowing things down to what's relevant. For example, if you are applying to work in Veterans Affairs and you were the point of contact for that constituency on a campaign, you should include the bullet point about organizing Veterans for Obama phone banks or an event focusing around military policy, even if these activities only took up 5% of your time.

2)Have a non-campaign friend proofread your resume. Preferably this should be someone with whom you have not discussed your campaign work at length. Ask your friend to reflect back what they think your skills and strengths are based on what they're reading, and to point out any places where you use terms or phrases with which they are unfamiliar.

3)Conduct an informational interview. I know this is my answer for just about everything, but advice is free and people love to give it. If you're moving into governement, law, non-profits, grad school or business, chances are there is someone in your network who has made the switch you're about to make. Find that person and ask them what campaign skills were particularly applicable in their new career.

4)Use your cover letter. If you can't find a succinct way to articulate how a certain experience qualifies you for a potential job, you can use your cover letter to bridge the gap. For example, if the job posting mentions the ability to meet goals under deadlines you can use your cover letter to expound upon a time that you organized a rally with a major surrogate on 48 hours notice.

5)Mirror the language in the job posting. Rather than reinvent the wheel, use the language in the job post to guide your resume bullet points. For example, a non-profit job may require you to "manage a diverse team of stakeholders," which in a excellent way to explain what you did by building and coordinating a campaign steering committee.

Good luck in your new adventures and thanks so much for reading!

Campaign Love and Mine,


PS. If you like this advice, please support CampaignSick!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Nevada Controller Candidate Apparently Also Running For Worst Person In The World

I read the following press release from the Nevada Democratic Party,
Las Vegas, NV – Ah, Nevada Republicans. You never cease to amaze us in your ability to “out-stupid” each other. Last week, in an op-ed in the Elko-Daily Free Press, Republican nominee for Nevada Controller, Ron Knecht, blamed programs to help sexual assault victims for the rise in the cost of college tuition. No, we’re not making this up – he actually said that.

To be clear: this was not a gaffe or simply a case of misspeaking. The Republican nominee for State Controller proactively wrote an op-ed in a newspaper criticizing programs that help rape victims. He even said colleges should fight new federal guidelines to help victims of sexual assault. (Seriously, who says this?)

“Another week, another outrageous and flat-out boneheaded comment by a Nevada Republican” said Nevada State Democratic Party spokesperson Zach Hudson. “Ron Knecht’s comments highlight how completely clueless Republicans are when it comes to women’s health. Helping victims of sexual assault isn’t ‘federal overreach,’ and it certainly isn’t to blame for an increase in college tuition -- it's the right thing to do. Knecht needs to come out of the stone age and apologize to Nevada women for this ignorant, irresponsible, and out-of-touch op-ed."
I thought, "No...there has to be more to this story. That's too politically stupid and ridiculous." It turns out there's less. Can there be less to a story like that? I'm not sure I'm making sense because I am actually in shock after reading Ron Knecht's Op-Ed. Don't be deceived Knecht doesn't just mention sexual assault prevention as one campus program that could be cut to save money. His entire crux is "cut sexual assault prevention!" He repeatedly refers to new Department of Education mandates to reduce campus assualt as "nonsense" and complains that attempts to hold campus rapists accountable are an
"expensive, cumbersome, confusing and time-consuming process, and would give plaintiffs and defendants the right to bring in their own outside advisers, including lawyers. But campuses would be under time pressure to speed the proceedings along and make them transparent, even as the new regulations make achieving those goals difficult or impossible."
He is equally disdainful of assault prevention programs lamenting that,
"colleges will become nannies to their students and employees, being required to train them on preventing sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking. Further, they will have to compile and publish statistics on all such incidents, while also assuring greater confidentiality protections for plaintiffs."
How do people this misguided even get through life let alone run for higher office? Don't the empathy police come and grab them and make them listen to a recording of their own stupid until they become self-aware? I have read a lot of articles about morally bankrupt politicians saying outrageous things about rape, but I am actually stunned by how tone deaf this is. How is this not already all over the Internet?

I'm going to take a shower and curl up in the fetal position.

Romo v. Detzner and Fair District Amendments

Good news, or at least bad news overturned! Last Thursday a Florida judge ruled that the congressional districts drawn by the Florida Legislature are illegal, due to partisan gerrymandering. The judge was able to do make this judgement thanks to the Fair District Amendments to Florida's constitution. What are Fair District Amendments you ask?

For decades politicians in Florida selfishly drew legislative and Congressional districts to protect themselves or advance the interests of their political parties. So effective and unabashed was this gerrymandering, that over the last decade only a small fraction of legislative incumbents were defeated.

On November 2, 2010, Floridians overwhelmingly spoke out against this self-serving practice by passing Amendments 5 and 6 – the FairDistricts Amendments -- with 63% of the vote. This vote resulted in constitutional provisions which prohibit favoritism of incumbents or parties in redistricting.

What a novel idea! Every state should have such a law. Awesomely enough, the League of Women Voters was the lead plaintiff in the case as well as the driving force behind the amendments.

What I Wish I Had Known At 30 With Jessica Post

Jessica Post, 34, Political Advisor at EMILY's List

I don't want to say this is the best turning 30 advice post yet, because I feel that way every time I get one, but it is seriously really good. In addition to helping me get my current job and introducing me to my boyfriend, Jessica Post is a field/political badass of universal acclaim. My favorite thing about Post (besides validating my desire to go to bed at 11pm on weekends) is that she believes, like I do, in the importance of mentorship on campaigns, especially among women. That's probably why this advice is so good! Thank you, Jessica, for this and everything.

1)Tell us a little about your career path.
I started volunteering on campaigns in college, as a College Democrat at Truman State, in Kirksville, Missouri. From there, I managed a state legislative race in rural Missouri, then went on to work for the Missouri House Democratic Campaign Committee, where I desked the state house candidates in Eastern Missouri. I moved all around the country then moving to Iowa to be a field organizer for Congressman Dick Gephardt’s presidential campaign, doing dozens of campaign jobs, starting with a Regional Field Director for the 2004 Colorado Coordinated Campaign in Boulder, working for the Minnesota Senate DFL Caucus in 2006, managing a hospital bond initiative in 2007, after running part of GOTV for a Utah anti-school voucher initiative, Field Director for the Minnesota DFL Coordinated, directing the Southern Minnesota recount staff, that helped elect Al Franken in 2008, then to DLCC as the National Field Director and Political Director in 2010-2012, then on to EMILY’s List as a Political Advisor for federal and gubernatorial candidates in 2014.

In between cycles, I helped fight state beer tax increases as a consultant for Anheuser-Busch from 2003-2010, which was a great and rewarding contract. I also did a ton of off cycle work for FieldWorks, including working for Save Darfur Coalition on a divestment campaign in San Francisco, fighting a new casino in a state, and directing statewide signature gathering drives to put paid sick days on the ballot in Ohio for SEIU and a renewable portfolio standard for Renew Missouri. The off cycle work gained me great contacts, and experience across multiple states.

2)What are you most proud of?
I think I’m much more proud of moments in my career than key accomplishments, since you are always only a component of a win on a campaign. The Franken recount and ensuing win was a huge highlight of my life, but I was a small part of a giant team. One of the best moments for me during that race was driving down to a recount site in a Republican county, and seeing a high-powered Republican lobbyist try to intimidate one of our staffers, who we hired as an organizer at 19. Our training program and trust with this staffer was so strong, he was our site lead, and he refused to back down.

I’m also really proud of the field program we put together at DLCC. Last cycle, Dave Griggs, Graham Wilson, and I were able to launch the Grassroots Victory Program, which sent trained field organizers into legislative races, using field best practices, and emphasizing the findings of Analyst Institute for GOTV. Some of my proudest moments last cycle were walking into field offices, and watching volunteers explain the Analyst Institute GOTV best practices, such as the plan to vote script to other volunteers, and knowing they had that knowledge because of the program we ran at DLCC.

Finally, the achievements of fellow staffers I mentors, from interns on the ’04 campaign in Colorado, to the accomplishments of my regionals. I think we have an obligation to develop fellow staff and help them with their careers.

3)What is the best advice you've received?
There are so many great pieces of advice I’ve received across my career—one was to start my career managing a state house race, so I could decide what aspects of the job I liked.

Probably the best though, was to think more about what I would learn in a job, and if I would like doing it, then worrying about the title or salary early in my career. For that reason, I had a small role on a St. Louis Alderman’s race in 2007, essentially an FO, after working as a Statewide Field Director, and I learned a ton about working directly with candidates and city politics. I’m drawing on some of those lessons in my job today.

Campaigns are also a small world, so treat people well. Ultimately, we are all on the same team here.

4)What is the worst advice you've received?
I’d been told so many times to stop working at the state legislative level, to do more federal work instead—from 2006 when I went to Minnesota with the Senate DFL Caucus to 2010, when I joined the team at DLCC. State legislative work is fascinating, and some of the most innovative work I’ve seen on campaigns is by very good legislative caucus campaign directors and staff, who are absolutely not doing this work because their aunt knows the name of their candidate, or for their planned MSNBC commentator deal. State legislative campaigns are also professional, and disciplined in many caucus operations, which I think is underappreciated here in Washington. Working with the Minnesota House and Senate DFL Caucuses last cycle to regain the majority, and then seeing them pass marriage equality in Minnesota was one of the best moments of my career, and I would have missed out on that had I followed that advice.

In the same vein, I’ve often been told to take a job just for the money, which is also terrible advice. Take jobs and work that you find interesting and rewarding, where the work makes you light up like a pinball machine when you think about it. That’s how you know you are on the right track.

Career advice you receive is rarely objective, so know that most people giving you advice think you want their career or life, and advise accordingly. That’s where a lot of bad advice comes from, from folks trying to fill roles on campaigns or thinking you want to follow the same path as them.

5)What lesson are you still trying to learn?
To trust my instincts and speak up. So many decisions made on campaigns are based in the moment, without a ton of data points, still unfortunately, despite the great work being done by Analyst Institute and the growing list of tremendous analytics firms. I am continuing to work on trusting my gut.

6)What was the best thing about being in your 20s?
I loved being able to move around the country, work in different states, quickly make deep friendships on campaigns and do campaign work. I also felt like I could easily work 14 hour days, and still go to the bar some nights with my colleagues. I loved the freedom to learn, take on short projects, and have my engine running always. I loved how campaigns made learn new skills and made me take on new projects and responsibility quickly. I loved staying at the DFL office until 1 a.m. talking to then voter file manager Jaime Tincher about data, and then applying our conversations immediately, running VAN searches late into the evening to update our field and mail universes. While I didn’t love the moving, I became good at it, and I was fortunate to live in some amazing places, like St. Paul, Truckee (a California town near North Lake Tahoe),
and Boulder. To me, this felt like really living.

7)What one thing should I absolutely do before I turn 30?
I think you should try to accomplish some sort of personal, nonprofessional challenge—be it running a 10K, raising an amount for charity, or improving your yoga headstand. I think achieving some sort of milestone outside of work strengthens and renews you. I didn’t race my first triathlon until I was 31, but that is what it did for me.

Find a method of self-care, be it meditation, exercise, or binge watching Netflix that refills your tank for work, and makes you fired up to make a tracking spreadsheet after a few tough days.

I’d also take a trip where you stay out late drinking and cavorting in a major European city. And go out on U Street or Adams Morgan until 2 a.m., and eat Jumbo Slice. This gets much harder after 30. Those two things might not go together, however.

8)What's the best thing about being 34?
I think a lot of the anxiety about career choices that I felt in my mid-twenties has dissipated—where I would worry about taking one job over another—or if I was on the right path.

There’s no more fear of missing out. I am often happier at home on a Friday night than out, or walking my dog on Sunday morning, then working at home, than doing a multi-hour brunch. While I’m not perfect at it, I’m getting better at balancing being healthy with the obligations of this work.

9)What are you looking forward to?
I cannot imagine a better place to work than EMILY’s List. I am looking forward to our August primary season, and working with our candidates through the 2014 election cycle. We are so proud of their work responding to the Hobby Lobby case, and shining a light on sexual assault in the military and on campuses. Without our women in Congress, these issues would not have been brought to light. I can’t wait to see what the women we elect in 2014 will do in Congress.

10)What else?
We need more women campaign managers. If you are a young woman out there, no one is going to tell you are ready to manage. You will have to blaze that trail, and tell people you are ready. Don’t doubt yourself. I’d also say to the Campaignsickles, who are reading and have not taken the plunge yet, go out there to go take that campaign job.
There’s only so much you will learn if you don’t go out on the path.

If you are looking, check out, and create a profile and upload your resume. (Nancy's note: this is how I got my first job!)

Great advice! Thank you SO MUCH, Jessica. Campaign love and mine!

For more posts in this series click here, here and here and as always if you enjoy reading please considering supporting the blog by clicking here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Rep. Renee Ellmers Thinks All Women Are Idiots Because She's One

(Note: This graphic was going to be a pie chart of people who think Renee Ellmers is an embarrassment to women everywhere, but it was just a circle.)

Reblogging from Feministing:

At a recent panel put on by the Republican Study Committee, the House’s conservative caucus, conservative women discussed how the GOP can improve their messaging to female voters. Here’s the advice North Carolina Rep. Renee Ellmers offered:

"Men do tend to talk about things on a much higher level. Many of my male colleagues, when they go to the House floor, you know, they’ve got some pie chart or graph behind them and they’re talking about trillions of dollars and how, you know, the debt is awful and, you know, we all agree with that … we need our male colleagues to understand that if you can bring it down to a woman’s level and what everything that she is balancing in her life — that’s the way to go."

Wow. I cannot. I cannot. I cannot. There's a special place in Hell...

Update: Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014

When I wrote about the Supreme Court's decision to strip Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act Shelby County v. Holder last year, I noted that preclearance could return if Congress could approve a more updated formula that reflected modern mechanisms and history of voter suppression. As you may remember, Section 5 required that certain jurisdictions have any changes in voting laws "precleared" by the Department of Justice or a three-judge panel in DC. Section 4 outlined the criteria under which states and municipalities were subject to Section 5. Shelby v. Holder struck down Section 5 under the assertion that the formula in Section 4 was outdated and unfairly treated some states differently than others. Preclearance was one of the most important facets of the Voting Rights Act because it shifted the burden of proof from disenfranchised citizens on to the states and jurisdictions that disenfranchise them.

A year after the landmark (and deeply upsetting) decision, voting rights advocates led by Democrat (and Batman enthusiast) Senator Patrick Leahy are working to revise the formula in order to restore the teeth to the VRA. S.1945 or the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 amends the criteria for which states and jurisdictions that would be covered under Section 5. You can read the details here, but the gist is that the formula would include states and municipalities with a substantial history of voting rights violations over the course of the previous 15 years.

Unsurprisingly, like almost everything else good that could possibly happen in Congress, the bill is stalled in the house.

For more Section 5 on CampaignSick click here and here.

Monday, July 14, 2014

What I Wish I Had Known At 30 With Mark Henson

Mark Henson, 31, Congressional Chief of Staff

Mark was my Regional Field Director and first boss on the 2006 Minnesota Democratic Coordinated Campaign. He is also one of my favorite people. Above is a picture of us getting our swank on at the British Ambassador's house.

1) Tell us a little about your career path.
Wandering campaign vagabond for 7 years, interspersed with short term policy/odd jobs, who hit the campaigner's magic trifecta in 2010: liking the candidate, winning, there being a good job afterward. Rarely happens, glad it did!

2) What are you most proud of?
CampaignSick may get RealSick hearing me say this, but proudest moment on the campaign trail was working closely with an awesome team to help Tim Walz go from long-shot congressional contender in 2006 to strong incumbent today. CD1 DFL Coordinated was a small but crucial part of that, and leading such a great team as a first-time supervisor still brings tears to my eyes.

3) What is the best advice you've received?
Listen, learn, understand, THEN respond. Too many people skip one if not all of the actions before responding.

4) What is the worst advice you've received?
I think I gave myself the worst advice ever when I took a job without thinking it through because I was unemployed. Short to medium stretches of unemployment in Campaignland are better than taking a miserable position.

And I don't want to hear your answer to this question, Nancy.

5) What lesson are you still trying to learn?
Appropriate work-life balance.

6) What was the best thing about being in your 20's?
Having the energy, spontaneity, and lack of responsibilities to travel all across the country, work like hell, and meet amazing people who are some of my best friends today. My Big Fat White Cat demands a more grounded lifestyle now.

7) What one thing should I absolutely do before I turn 30?
Have a close friend plan a blow-out themed 30th Birthday Party. My Big Gay Funeral went from a lark to one of the most memorable and endearing things a group of friends has ever done for me.
Or go campaign in Alaska for a Democrat. Similarly memorable, somewhat less endearing.

8) What's the best thing about being 31?

9) What are you looking forward to?
My next international vacation. I'm sure you're looking for something deeper, but I'm pretty sure I'm always going to be looking forward to my next international vacation.

10) What else?

Thank you Mark for sharing your wisdom with me on and off the blog!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Ask An Election Nerd: Why Do Campaigns Post Jobs Anonymously?

I often see postings for campaign jobs that describe the campaign in vague-ish terms. So instead of "John Doe for Congress," I'll see "Top-tier midwestern congressional campaign." Why is that?

There are several reasons a campaign might advertise jobs incognito, but most boil down to the fact that they don’t want you to know they are looking for staff.

It could be that the candidate hasn’t announced yet, in which case advertising for a Campaign Manger would certainly let the cat out of the bag. It could also be that the campaign is undergoing a staffing change and they would rather that not be publicized. A campaign could be beefing up an existing operation (for example hiring a large paid canvass) and not want to give the opposition time to catch up. In some cases a campaigns may be wary of alerting their constituents to the fact that they are employing “hired guns” aka campaign professionals, but I suspect/hope this attitude is dying out.

I suppose it’s possible that if I announced I was hiring a Finance Director, an opposing campaign could send a spy to apply to try and gather intel about our operation, but I doubt this happens or would be an effective use of their time.

Finally sometimes outside groups, like consulting firms, might post to help their client hire staff. If this is the case, they will want to be the ones to screen and pass on your resume and anonymity is a way of ensuring that the application goes through them.

Campaign Love and Mine,


PS. If you liked my answer, please become a sponsor!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Ask An Election Nerd : Can I Volunteer On A Campaign While In The Armed Services?

For today's Ask An Election Nerd, we turn to FOCS Amanda Le'Anne Brunzell, OFA Alum and Naval Veteran. Thanks for your service Amanda Le'Anne, both in the Navy and for helping us out right now!

I volunteered for a Congressional Campaign for the 2012 elections and it was the greatest experience of my life, but I am now attending the United States Air Force Academy and I am no longer allowed to volunteer for anything political. What is the best way to help without volunteering?

Yes, you can volunteer. But you cannot do it in an official military capacity. Lets back up a moment on how I get that answer. I’m a Naval Veteran, who served during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. After the Navy, I went to college through the Post 9/11 GI Bill (thanks Obama) for Health Admin and Political Science majors but in 2008 I started with the Obama Campaign and been campaigning ever since. (we’re talking helping or a staff member in over 25 races!) One of my constituencies is Veterans and Military Issues, so I deal with them often and love it!

Back to the answer, the Department of Defense Directive 1344.10 is an entire directive of what you can and cannot when it comes to political activities. Easy to Google it, but I’ll shorthand it for you. This is for active duty members and because you are at a service school these apply to you as well.

Things you CAN DO:
•Vote, Register Voters, and encourage others to vote. (Though I noticed others would vote for the opponent so I kept my mouth shut and didn’t remind them like I should- Hey every vote makes a difference!)
•Go to political clubs- you can do this but not in an official manner- this means no uniforms.
•Sign a petition for legislation or to get a candidate on the ballot (again, as a private citizen and not associated with the military)
•Write a letter to the editor. No ranks can be put in and you have to do it as a private citizen once again. If it’s written in such a way that people can tell you’re active duty you need to express that these are your views and NOT that of the Armed Forces.
•Donate to a candidate or political party. (Obviously within the limits of Campaign Finance Laws) You can also go to fundraisers and rallies and such but not in Uniform, and only as a private citizen. If you’re at a rally you can wear a uniform but you must notify your Chain of Command that you’re doing it and while in Uniform you are to speak not as a representative of the Military. (Ask your Public Affairs Officer for guidelines on military approved sound bites if need be) I saw a Marine who did this at a political book signing and it was done properly.
•You can put bumper stickers on your private vehicle but no political signs in base housing. (even if its privatized).
•Participate in the Federal Voting Assistance Program, or ask if you can help out the Voting Assistance Officer at your school or base (this is is the program that helps military members get absentee ballots and register to vote while overseas or on bases.)

Things you CANNOT do:
•Use your uniform or rank for anything political such as endorsements.
•Use your rank or uniform to influence or interfere with an election, affect the course or outcome of an election, solicit votes for a particular candidate or issue, or require or solicit political contributions from others.
•Serve as an official in a political party organization.
•Speak as an official before a political group or club using your rank or uniform. This includes TV, Radio, or other social media outlets.
Big thing: You CAN NOT solicit fundraising on Federal Property. So don’t ask your friends to donate for a candidate or organization.
•March in parades in uniform for a political group
•Put large signs on your car (anything bigger than a bumper sticker is a no no) (car painting the windows also a no no)
•Drive people to the polls*

Summed up, Any activity that may be reasonably viewed as directly or indirectly associating the Department of Defense or the Department of Homeland Security (in the case of the Coast Guard) or any component of these Departments with a partisan political activity or is otherwise contrary to the spirit and intention of the Directive 1344.10 shall be avoided so just don’t do it!
( ‘s words not mine but yes they summed it up perfectly) Using sound judgment is a best practice always but knowledge is power and knowing the rules and regulations for this issue is smart! Yes you can volunteer but even in a job outside of the military it’s always smart to keep your professional and personal life separate so go out and volunteer!

*Nancy's Note: I asked Amanda Le'Anne why you could doorknock and phonebank but not drive people to the phones. She said she didn't know but those are the rules.

Patently Ridiculous

I don't usually like to blog about a news story until I have a handle on what the possible outcomes are, but this story was so surprising to me that I had to share.

CampaignGrid a "data-driven ad platform for political campaigns" has secured a patent on targeted online political advertising. What? WHAT? WHAT? Why is everyone not freaking out about this? This is a Joe Biden level BFD.

CampaignGrid’s patent, No. 8,763,033, is quite broad. Amazingly so, in fact. According to their press release, they now own “the ability to use publicly available voter registration records and political demographic data such as party affiliation, voting history and political geography to target and place advertising.”

Think about that for a second. This is the digital equivalent of a single firm patenting the ability to produce targeted direct mail.

CampaignGrid may in fact have been the first to apply digital marketing targeting technology to political campaigns but as Seth Oldmixon of points out,

"that doesn’t mean that it was a particularly innovative concept –- direct mail firms and phone vendors have been doing that for decades. All CampaignGrid did was apply an old methodology to a new technologyWhether or not CampaignGrid did it first, it’s hard to argue that the methodology wasn’t obvious and inevitable."
The extent to which CampaignGrid will enforce the patent and whether or not the patent will be challenged remain to be see. Some in the digital marketing world see the patent as a marketing stunt while others are wary that the move could pose serious obstacles for online digital innovation, the very that process that patents are supposed to protect.

According to a sorority sister and patent attorney, the patent office must have deemed the technology "new and non-obvious" in order to have issued the patent in the first place. However the patent can be challenged in court by a company or individual that believes they are going to be sued by CampaignGrid or by the patent office itself, if someone can show there is evidence that the office didn't consider but should have before issuing the patent.

As the Internet says, "Whoa, if true."

Support CampaignSick!

Friday, July 11, 2014

What I Wish I Had Known At 30 With Bridget Cusick

Bridget Cusick, 38, Vice President at Berlin Rosen Public Affairs

You may remember my friend and sorority sister, the amazing Bridget Cusick, from the time she taught us about direct mail. Now she talks to us about the best and worst advice she's gotten and why she's still trying to learn.

1) Tell us a little about your career path.
I majored in journalism and communications (focus on PR and advertising) and -- because it was 1998 -- stepped right into a job in a big advertising and PR agency after college. (OK, I probably had something to do with it, but it was a very different economy.) I stayed there for six years, but during that time had started volunteering on a campaign and become very involved politically. I heard about an opportunity to become an organizer on a congressional race and jumped at the chance, 50% pay cut and all. But the great thing was that, because I had valuable prior experience in another area relevant to campaigns -- communications -- I was very quickly able to move into campaign management. I've been back and forth a bit since 2005: back to a small ad agency, onto a few more campaigns, and then ultimately into consulting in 2010.

2) What are you most proud of?
I'm proud that I had the get-up-and-go to leave a relatively stable and comfortable job (but one I was increasingly unhappy with) to try something totally new and then parlay it into a career. Too many people stick around in jobs they dislike or that they have outgrown because they are afraid of change or afraid of moving or afraid of making less money or a million other excuses. Now, I can't discount he role my parents played: While shaking their heads at me a bit, they agreed to pay the rent on the apartment I was leaving behind in one city to go to another city for my first organizing job. I'm proud I had the courage to do what I did, and I definitely had to live more frugally for a period of time even with their help, but I'm not going to sit here and pretend I did it all on my own.

3) What is the best advice you've received?
"Find something you're passionate about and figure out how to make money doing it." Perhaps I would replace "make money" with "support yourself"; it doesn't have to be about (often isn't about) getting rich, but rather making a living doing something that makes you feel good. If you are able to do that, you are a fortunate person.

4) What is the worst advice you've received?
"You should become an actuary." (This was in about 5th grade, so my dad can be forgiven for not fully knowing what my skill sets were going to be.)

5) What lesson are you still trying to learn?
Patience and letting things go. Paraphrasing Erin Brockovich (or, at least, Julia Roberts playing Erin Brockovich): My work is personal. It's the time I spend away from family and friends. It's also my social conscience and my right-brain poured out onto a page. So that is pretty personal, and it's easy to get worked up when things don't go as well as you wanted on a project or when someone pooh-poohs your ideas. I'm getting better at taking things in stride (and occasionally just saying, "whatever." Sometimes you just have to).

6) What was the best thing about being in your 20's?
I had a great time. I tried different things, met a lot of people, had a lot of fun, learned a lot. But honestly: Not that much has changed in my 30s, except that I am more confident in my skills and knowledge and what I bring to the table.

7) What one thing should I absolutely do before I turn 30?
I'm not a big fan of rules like this. There are too many stories of people who change careers or have their first big success way after 40 to make them. Everyone develops at their own pace. Basic rule is use your best judgment.

8) What's the best thing about being in your 30's?
People think you know a lot and have good advice. =)

9) What are you looking forward to?
You never know what's around the corner. I try and keep alert to all kinds of opportunities in my life. I don't know if or when I'll change career courses, but I know that there are plenty of places to do good in the world, and that there are always new challenges to apply my skills to and opportunities to learn new things! I'm always learning.

Thank you, Bridget!

Campaign, Alpha Love and Mine!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

It's a Mess-issippi

If you're like me and have Google alerts for "voters" and "election" (because of course, why wouldn't you?) you've probably heard a lot about the Mississippi Republican primary. It's in my Google alerts about every other day and just when I think it's over, it's not. On the off chance you are not like me in the Google alerts regard, let me walk you through it.

State Senator and Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel decided to challenge incumbent Republican Senator (and Joe Liberman look alike contest winner) Thad Cochran who has represented Mississippi since Night Fever was number two on the music charts. It was a particularly nasty fight during which McDaniel's supporters somewhat inexplicably broke into a nursing home to photograph Cochran's ailing wife. McDaniel tea partied so hard that he actually narrowly beat Cochran in votes cast in the June 3rd primary. But because a third party candidate gained 1.5% of the vote, neither Cochran nor McDaniel earned a majority of votes, and both candidates continued on to a June 24th runoff.

At this point, the Cochran campaign kicked it into high gear because a) Cochran came very close to being ousted outright in the primary and b) usually when things go to a runoff incumbent candidates are boned. One of Cochran's key strategies for the runoff was courting African Americans and Democrats (but it's Mississippi, so I repeat myself) by reminding them of the resources he's brought to the state. This was a clear contrast with McDaniel who is racist and favors abolishing federal funding for education. Democrats heard Cochran's message and thought, "It's unlikely that a Dem is going to win this seat anyway, let's go with the guy who's not crazy." Cochran won the runoff by 7,667 votes thanks in large part to African American voters.

Mississippi does not have party registration, which means that any voter who did not cast a ballot in the Democratic primary was eligible to vote in the runoff. This allows traditional Democratic voters to vote in the Republican primary and visa versa, which in fact McDaniel did in 2003. However, sorest of all possible losers, Chris McDaniel is claiming that voters who had voted in the Democratic primary also voted in the runoff and is asking for a redo due to "irregularities" which is what Tea Partiers call it when black people vote in Mississippi.

So that's where we're at. I will let you know what happens with this potential meta-redo (three-do? Inception style redo within a redo?) but my guess is that it's not happening. Currently there is a court case led by Texas voting "rights" group True the Vote to compel the release of June 24th voter information.

Can't wait to go down to Mississippi myself in a couple of weeks. Should be a blast!

Campaign Love and Mine,


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