The Campaign Industrial Complex

If you ever wonder why Democratic officials are so hapless, consider this filter most of them must squeeze through (boldface mine):

I don’t recall being asked about my platform but they wanted to know how much I thought I could raise and how much I thought would be needed to win. After all, the primary job of a candidate is fundraising to run the campaign. Ugh.

I was introduced to several Members of Congress (MoC) who repeated the message — call time, raise $250k the first quarter to be taken seriously (by them, the media, my opponent), focus on call time, and did we mention call time?

…So what is call time? Torture. You sit in an office for 4–6 (ideally) with a 20-something next to you dialing the phone and handing you a call sheet with info on the person you’re calling to beg for money. Ideally the phone numbers will be correct (but since they usually aren’t, he/she will spend a lot of time on White Pages trying to find a current one).

You have an “ASK” — the amount of money to specifically ask them for, and then you are strongly encouraged to get a credit card number over the phone and complete the transaction before hanging up. If not, it becomes a “pledge” and if it doesn’t come in within two weeks, you’re back on the phone “pledge chasing.”

Through all of this, he or she is prompting you to follow your script, putting post it notes in front of you with suggestions or reminders, pushing you to make the ask, to confirm the email address, to get the credit card number, to ask to follow up if the donor says “I have to talk to my spouse about it.”

The fastest way to upset your call time manager is to not make a specific ask, or to not make one at all. They hate nothing more than logging “unknown” in their pledge tracker spreadsheet, and I must admit, it makes pledge chasing a bit awkward. They really don’t like long calls, and they’ll keep notes of the conversation so the next time you call you can reference did their wife come through surgery ok, is the grandchild out of the hospital, how are the kids? They’ll also note if you left a voice mail, no one answered, or you left a message with someone other than the person you were calling for.

Ideally you’ll be on the phone 30 hours a week, you’ll make 40 calls per hour and connect with about 30% of them. Your call time manager will track the amount of time scheduled, the time you took for any breaks, the actual call time completed, number of calls made, number completed and the results — all of which will be submitted to the DCCC, EMILY’s List or any other group who has “adopted” your campaign. Everyone is discouraged from trying to interrupt you during call time. Other staff members will text your call time manager to find out when they can come in to ask a question.

If you wonder why Ocasio-Cortez appears so dynamic, not to mention well-prepared, it’s because she doesn’t waste twenty to thirty hours per week on this (and just think how soul-deadening it is too). It’s also why H.R. 1, which would provide matching funds for donations (freeing up time) is so important to pass if Democrats regain the Senate.

So if you want to know why Democrats appear to be so hapless, it’s the filter, stupid.

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3 Responses to The Campaign Industrial Complex

  1. Ron Zoscak says:

    Jebus Christmas, who knew being a candidate meant working in a boiler-room!

  2. adameran says:

    The Democrats could blow it again. They blew it in 2010, ’12, ’14, and ’16, against the worst Republican Party that Kafka could ever imagine. Cruel, vicious, ignorant, Wall Street-indentured, warmongering, anti-labor, anti-woman, anti-consumer, anti-children — these are their votes in Congress. Why aren’t the Democrats landsliding them? They’ve lost the state legislatures, the majority of state governors, the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court and the executive branch. Because they’re still dialing for dollars and that’s the most important thing.” – Ralph Nader

  3. plch says:

    After Trump was elected, I remember reading a comment by an hispanic working class single mother that was very proud of having voted for Trump because *Democrats always ask you for something*… I’m not an US citizen and just now I understand what she meant.

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