Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Campaign Staffer

All that jazz - some campaign ephemera from the collections
Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies.
While a typical day for a campaign staffer isn't quite as glamorous as Jim Messina's job (campaign manager for the Obama for America) it can definitely get exciting. Beyond the glitz and the glam you might see on TV -- campaign jargon, catchy slogans, patriotic t-shirts and banners-- the behind the scenes work of campaigning is very different.

I started volunteering for the Obama campaign in the summer of 2012, glittery eyed and star struck thinking I might even walk hand and hand with the President himself. I had a rude awakening my first day. Not only was I highly unlikely to meet the President, but most of my time would be spent making phone calls – lots of them!

From the outside looking in, the campaign trail can seem like a breeze. You see staff members running around with political leaders and walking through crowds of rallying Americans excited to cheer the candidate (and you) on. In reality, a campaign is a lot of work and it takes a while to get to the rallies and election night. Not only do you have to believe in your cause, but you have to show others that they can believe in it too. That task requires lots of resources, stamina and sleep.

As staffers, our job was to connect with people by telling them about the candidates strengths. Through various one-on-one meetings with people in communities throughout the Southeast region, making phone calls, hosting catered events, and door-to-door canvassing, I was able to connect with people on a more intimate basis. Essentially, just letting them know we were on their side and that the candidate needed their help. The citizens appreciated the time we spent reaching out and as we planned events and talked with voters, campaign staff members, as a group, became more unified in working toward our common goal.

Most of my time on the campaign trail was focused on communication. That meant making phone calls to gauge people’s support or stance on key issues, communicating this collected data to campaign HQ, and sharing the importance of voting using tested Get out the Vote methods like door-to-door canvassing and community outreach initiatives. This was not a journey for the shy or weak hearted! Campaign staff and volunteers must be prepared to talk a lot, share experiences with others and use their hands! So, here's a quick break down of the day-to-day...

Day-to-Day Campaign Staffer Run down (The Less Glamorous Side)
•    Making Phone Calls
•    Performing Data Entry using Vote builder, valuable data software of all registered voters
•    Soliciting Donations in person through catered events
•    Canvassing door-to-door
•    Communicating on Dashboard (a Social Network for supporters and interested volunteers)
•    24/7 hr. work days. Lots and Lots of pizza, chips, cookies and other quick junk food

The Perks:
•    Meeting political leaders in the community
•    Attending fundraising receptions
•    A chance to attend the party convention AND Inauguration
     (should the candidate be elected)
•    Friendships forged with fellow staff members
•    Feeling like I made a difference!

So if you’re interested in volunteering for a political campaign, try to remember while you are out there canvassing and making phone calls that your work is not all in vain. Adopt an alter ego, become a super hero taking on the challenges of a new world, and remember to get some sleep! Wanna get involved in a campaign this season? Check out your local political party headquarters for more information on candidates running for office and how you can volunteer.

Post by Beatrice Pollard, student worker/blogger, Russell Library

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