Obama Campaign- More Highlights

November 25, 2008 at 1:12 am / by

The first day we got to Ohio to help out with the Obama campaign, we were told to stick labels on posters. Either we were thought to be incapable of doing much more (and who can blame them after we failed to translate ‘restroom’) or they just wanted to give us a gentle introduction.

Turns out it was the latter. Later on in the day, we were explained by Anthony (above) that we were expected to canvass exactly as we did in London except it would be for 8 hours every day. I couldn’t help but ask.

Tulip: So…. is there a local coming with us to our turf?
Anthony: Ummm…no. We have to use our American volunteers for other tasks.
Tulip: Oh ok… we’re going totally on our own? (Unspoken thought – we’re door knocking in a country half of us have never been to, let alone campaigned in totally on our own?! Are you crazy?!)
Anthony: I’m afraid so. But everyone will be really friendly and you guys will receive full training now.
Tulip(smiling brightly): Great! I’m sure it’ll be fine. (Unspoken thought- OH MY GOD).

Turns out Anthony was right about the campaigning like he was right about his prediction that we were going to win Ohio. The locals were all really friendly (especially my new friends below) and the canvass sheets were similar to those that we use in London.

We classified our voters into two main groups –

Sporadic Democrats – There are voters who if they voted would vote Democratic but they do not always cast a ballot. These voters are registered and have voted before but do not vote regularly.

Persuadable Voters – These are voters who always vote but need to be persuaded to vote for Barack.

Although the Sporadic Democrats were easier to canvass, I actually found the Persuadable Voters more interesting to deal with.

I would say that the main difference between campaigning in the UK and campaigning in the US is that the American style is much more personal. In the U.K, I tend to stick to facts and figures when door knocking for the Labour Party. In Ohio, we were told to share our reasons for volunteering for Obama on the doorstep. It was expected that we would speak about the reasons why Obama had inspired us as individuals.

The main message from the first day was that in order to elect Obama, we needed to win Ohio. To win Ohio, we needed to persuade undecided voters to vote for Barack Obama and motivate all Democrats to turn out.

To accomplish this, the Obama Campaign had built Neighbourhood Teams in every county, township, city and neighbourhood of Ohio. Each team had a Neighbourhood Leader and Team Coordinators who took responsibility for reaching the set goals in their neighbourhood.

Anthony explained that we needed to let the residents in our designated turf (or ‘our universe’) know why it was important to them that Barack got elected, and why we needed them to be a part of it. The message was clear – We simply would not win without enlisting the help of each individual.

By telling our strategy to others we created a sense of purpose and a sense of urgency.

• Sense of purpose – Made them realize they were part of something greater than themselves and made them feel a part of the team

• Sense of urgency – Made them act now

We were trained to always bring the strategy back to the individual we were speaking to. As we articulated our strategy to volunteers and potential voters, our main message was – “It’s all about you.”

We often started talking about how Obama would help American generally and then ended the conversation by talking about the neighbourhood we were in. Therefore Obama winning on Nov 4th was clearly important for the US but it was just as important for Highgate Drive in Ohio. And in order for Obama to win in Highgate Drive, we needed each resident of Highgate Drive to be a part of the strategy.

Finally, we were told that we must always remember that the mantra “Respect. Empower. Include” guided everything we did. I’ll explain more about this mantra in my next post. Meanwhile please email me if you would like more information about the campaigning structure we used.



1 Comment

  1. RYErnest says:

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