I want to fetch coffee for the future POTUS or staff
August 8, 2008 5:54 PM   Subscribe

Best way to volunteer for the national presidental campaign? In the interest of being useful to a large amount of people, let's say either side is open.

I've got myself some time and don't need a significant amount of cash. I'd love to go get involved with the national campaign, but am blanking on where to start. Any contacts or stories of MeFites doing this now, and how to get involved?

I'm a young college grad with lots of work experience, but I'd like not to just jump into whatever next corporate job is waiting for me, and it seems to be a perfect time. I'm also willing to relocate anywhere in the US to make this happen, at least until the elections.

Again, either side is welcomed. I'd like this to be useful for everyone. MeFi mail me if you want more info.
posted by msamye to Law & Government (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Barack Obama's volunteer page is here. Currently they seem to be having some website difficulties, and it's down, but you could check back there in a little while, I'm sure.

If you're looking to volunteer for John McCain, sorry, but you're going to have to get someone else to answer.
posted by Flunkie at 6:46 PM on August 8, 2008

I worked on a presidential. The good news: both campaigns will have plenty of work for you to do. You won't be fetching coffee, you'll be doing what we call direct voter contact: phone-banking, door-knocking, signing up supporters at fairs, etc.

I'd recomend applying for an internship. They'll probably send you to a field office in some swing state (yours if you live in one). You'll do all of the above, plus help out with administrative tasks around the office (data entry, answering phones). It's totally not glamorous, and you will be working about 70 hours/week now, 100 hours/week right before the election. But. You'll make great friends, have some amazing experiences, and maybe find something you want to do more of.

If this sounds interesting, and you want more specifics, drop me a Metafilter Mail. I'll be more helpful with the Obama campaign.
posted by lunasol at 7:03 PM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Obama's volunteering page is back up.
posted by Flunkie at 7:28 PM on August 8, 2008

What state are you in? If it's one of the campaigns' targeted states (Obama has 18, I think McCain has 12) you can just walk into your nearest field office and offer yourself up. They'll be delighted to have you. If you don't live in a targeted state and are willing to relocate for the next 88 days, the campaign can help set you up with supporter housing for the duration. If you're interested in the Obama campaign, drop me a MeMail line and I may be able to help you get set up.
posted by fancypants at 8:28 PM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

All the advice above is good. I'm just commenting to add that this is REALLY easy to do. I think sometimes before someone has worked on a campaign, they think it must be difficult to get in and help. It's not at all. Campaigns are always dying for volunteers. They could have ten thousand volunteers in a single city and they would still welcome more. You seriously just look up a local office for the campaign you're interested in, and either call or show up, and say you want to volunteer. They'll have something for you.

And like others have said, yeah, you're not going to be making coffee, so that's nice.
posted by Nattie at 8:33 PM on August 8, 2008

I volunteered for Obama at his office in Chicago during the primaries. They were super laid back and you could just show up, sign in and they'd put you on a phone. You could also make the same calls from your home by accessing their phone list online. I also signed up on the web site and once you create your own identity you can sign up for different groups, start your own, network, create events etc.

I get almost daily emails from the local groups in my area. Today I got an email with different fundraising events, an event to paint signs for the convention, a get together and another trip to Wisconsin to register voters/identify supporters. My local group goes to Wisconsin as a day trip every 2 weeks.

One of the things they like to brag about is having offices in every state. And, despite what you think, they would probably value you more if you were located in or near an office in a swing state than the national headquarters in Chicago. I have had very little opportunity to volunteer to get Iliinois residents into the campaign because they're pretty certain Illinois will go to Obama. I do get hit a lot to travel to other places. I had someone from the Pennsylvania office call and beg me to come out before the primary and was also hit up for trips to Ohio, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin. I was offered rides and a couch to sleep on on all of these trips.

So, I guess my point is, if you're looking to volunteer for Obama you might want to look locally or to your closest swing state rather than the national headquarters if you have to relocate. Once you sign up on the site find the phone number of the head organizer for your region and ask her how you can help. I had the head of my local area talk my ear off. I imagine that those volunteering higher up on the food chain have been involved since the primaries and have gained seniority and many probably have expertise/experience/degrees in relevant subjects so they would be hard to compete with.
posted by Bunglegirl at 9:46 PM on August 8, 2008

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