Monday, February 1, 2010

Why a Strong Volunteer Base is Critical in 2010

Another Democratic consulting firm has started blogging! This time it’s Activate, a direct voter contact firm in Washington, DC.

Recently, Founder and CEO Mark Sump wrote about the importance of volunteer outreach and direct voter contact.

From The New Paradigm in Poltics:

The media is of course singularly focused on recent Democratic Party failures in Virginia, New Jersey and, of course, Massachusetts. They were colossal failures, and each of them was a reflection of the old paradigm in political campaigns. It is no longer true that the successful campaign is the one that has the most and best television advertisements. It is no longer true that campaigns can be won without engaging the public.

Coakley is the definition of this old paradigm. The fact that she was up by 30 points after her primary is not the relevant issue. The fact that she did not see the need to run a campaign after the primary is relevant. The fact that she did not see the need to engage the public and rally her supporters is relevant. Relying on a blitz of paid media at the end of the campaign no longer wins campaigns for Democrats even in the most liberal of states. Coakley is proof of that.

The new paradigm in winning elections is that public opinion is important, but paid media no longer carries the sway to change public opinion it once did. The new paradigm is that you have to earn public opinion through direct interaction with the public.

While the media is focused on in a few high profile campaigns, there is a quiet undercurrent that has so far gone unnoticed. The latest is Oregon, but just last month, the city of Houston…not known for its liberalism…elected Annise Parker the first big city mayor who happens to be a lesbian. A month before that, the state of Washington rejected proposition 71 ensuring the most sweeping gay rights legislation ever up for a public vote in the nation’s history.

Each of these campaigns had two things in common. Each of them embraced this paradigm shift toward engaging an army of volunteers, and each of them won.

We’ve mentioned the importance of volunteers and voter contact many times before, but this should provide more evidence towards their importance in 2010.

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