I want to GOTV in 2018
November 16, 2016 7:37 PM   Subscribe

I am a progressive and am upset about the election. I live in a solidly blue U.S. state, and I want to spend 3 months in 2018 volunteering to do GOTV or community organizing for an organization dedicated to electing democrats. This will be in addition to giving money -- I want to actually talk to actual humans and make an actual difference. How?

I have never volunteered for a political organization before, at any level. I want to donate my time in a way that has the potential to make a difference. I plan to take leave from work, and would like to spend 3 months somewhere doing something that has a chance to result in positive change -- like campaigning for a Democrat who is running for a vulnerable Republican seat, or driving voters to the polls, or doing GOTV work. I can and will relocate as needed to do this. How should I do this? What organizations should I contact? What training do I need? What are my next steps to get me to this goal?
posted by OrangeDisk to Law & Government (8 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Despite living in a blue state, your local Dem party will be able to find things for a volunteer to do on weekends or such. I'd recommend doing that first so you get a sense of the atmosphere of campaigns. You may also meet people who can help you connect with an out of state campaign later on. Any campaign will find work for you to do, even if you just show up the weekend before the election, but if you're involved earlier, you might be able to do some more interesting things.

Otherwise, take some time to survey the 2018 landscape and find a candidate you believe in. Probably best if you wait until some time has passed. Many of the contenders will not have emerged yet. There are vulnerable Senate seats in ND and IN that come to mind, but governors will matter a lot too and those races get neglected by Dems. Depending on what happens in the early *ugh, can't type his name* administration, who knows, there could be a hot race in a place nobody's watching yet like Mississippi.
posted by chimpsonfilm at 8:31 PM on November 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

There's a few opportunities to take action now and establish the ground game that's sorely needed.

1. Because of its wacky primary system, Louisiana holds the final Senate and House elections on December 10th. Foster Campbell (D) needs support as his position would keep the US Senate at 51-49 instead of 52-48. Because of low voter turnout, and the weird timing, it's critical to win this one.

You can donate to the election, sign up to phone bank remotely, or contact their campaign to see how else to contribute. Medium article here: http://bit.ly/2gatnkw

2. I just posted this in another thread, but it's worth repeating: Obama's putting his post-presidency energy into redistricting and stopping gerrymandering. I'd put my money behind this.
posted by hampanda at 8:51 PM on November 16, 2016 [10 favorites]

I just finished volunteering for a campaign, well actually two of them. I have a history of following politics in election cycles including many hours of back and forth in comments sections on media sites, an activity one might liken to spinning on a Gerbil cage wheel so when an email arrived inviting me to get involved I jumped at it. I began by phone dialing for Catherine Cortez Masto's Nevada senate campaign, calling from Calif by the way. When I heard Col Doug Applegate was threatening to win against Daryel Issa in CA district 49 I had to get on that campaign (campaigns are always hungry for volunteers). My motivation came from Issa being a bone head climate change denier. I am die hard about the seriousness of climate change. What I want to do now is work on political action to force Trump to address this issue. Notwithstanding my hint to not wait till 2018 to get involved perhaps I can give you leads and suggestions to find your 2018 campaign. First, if you are repped by a Democratic Senator or Congressman contact their office abut volunteering. By the end of my three months on Applegate's campaign and working as a paid canvasser I learned one of the coordinators was a volunteer who works as an aide to a Dem Senator or Congressmen in a different district. Ask your representatives office about the DCCC or start by googling it. Contact your local Democratic party. Ask them how to volunteer. Pick your geography and or pick your issue and politician you want to work for. Finally I recommend DailyKos. This is a community of Democrats and Progressives. It's a community like MetaFilter only politically focused. There are many campaign volunteers who you will find on there. It's my impression that there are also many campaign and political professionals blogging there. Lurk for awhile and then jump in and share your intentions when the time is right. Best of Luck.
posted by Jim_Jam at 9:01 PM on November 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

You local dem party office, tell them you are available and in what capacity - they'll set you up.

And thank you for doing this.
posted by Toddles at 9:39 PM on November 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

You can do better than volunteer for any old Democrat. Brand New Congress is run by former Bernie campaign staffers, and they're going going to run a progressive primary slate. Sign up here to let them know what you can do.
posted by univac at 9:45 PM on November 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

First, find out if there are local races you can volunteer on before then. Many cities have municipal elections in odd-numbered years, and some state legislatures do. If there's something like that, then volunteer a few hours/week on one of those campaigns. You might also (or instead) start volunteering with your local Democratic Party - you can start going to district/town meetings for your party, or volunteer in the office.

Doing these things will help you start to develop basic campaign skills and make some connections, which can be helpful when you want to start looking for the right campaign to volunteer on in 2018. Then, in late spring/early summer of 2018, you can start asking around with the local politicos you've gotten to know.

The other thing you can do is, find a Camp Wellstone training to attend. Wellstone Action trains people to work on or run campaigns and it's a crash course in everything you need to know to at least start. It's also a network - once you go through the training, you have a place to go and say "I want to volunteer on a campaign for three months" and they would probably be able to connect you with one of their alumni running for office or running a campaign.

Even without connections, no decent campaign will turn away a volunteer, but if you're going to be doing it for three months, it's nice to get a little vetting to make sure you're not working for a candidate who's actually a jerk or a campaign manager who is incompetent. And if you have someone to vouch for you, then it makes things easier once you join the team: they'll be more likely to trust you, be more likely to hook you up with housing (ie, a spare bedroom somewhere), etc.
posted by lunasol at 10:52 PM on November 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

BTW, I used to work on campaigns and if someone had said "hey, I've volunteered a little bit on campaigns and I want to come help you for three months," I would have rolled out the red carpet. So this should not be a hard thing to sort out.
posted by lunasol at 10:53 PM on November 16, 2016

Our local party is still active and working now to start rebuilding. We had 70 new people sign up to be involved at the first meeting after the election. (boy do I wish we had had them earlier!) Presidential campaigns will always have slots to help volunteers who want to do what you are considering - you can get involved at the primary level or as soon as there is a nominee but I'd urge you to contact your local party now. Also campaigns usually will work to help hook up out of town volunteers with people willing to host them.
posted by leslies at 6:54 AM on November 17, 2016

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