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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Notes on the DFA Training

After a slow start (too much time spent on math that most people don't need to know), the DFA training really picked up and I learned a lot. I've worked on three campaigns now, one successful and two not so much, and all three of them would've been improved by the information presented at this training. I'd recommend future training sessions like this one to everyone - including those who have already attended them in the past. Three reasons why:

1. Repitition helps things sink in. The more times you hear this stuff, the more you know it and the more likely you are to remember it when you really need to.

2. You can always learn more. Every training is unique, with different trainers and different atendees. Some are the same, but they always change a bit. Each new person brings new information and insight with them and, you never know, that person could bring along the information you need to win the next election.

3. Networking. The political process is all about building and maintaining interpersonal relationships. Meetings like this are incredibly important in meeting new people and in getting together with people you've already met to share ideas and to share good times. Getting together and sharing a few drinks with a fellow activist can be the spark that leads to bigger and better things down the road.

On top of that, these training sessions are loaded with important lessons. Here are the top lessons I learned at this training:

*When you run for office, talk to your family, make sure they’re okay with it

*You have to find the small issues that you agree with people on (even Republicans) and swing them.

*You win through working your ass off, branding, getting your name (making people remember it).

*You might be able to have more effect on helping your community from a local office than national.

*There are lots of people willing to help candidates outside of their own district.

*When the strange speak to the normal, we have to speak normal. (We’re strange).

*People always talk about why doesn’t the party do this or why don’t candidates do that. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We’re the ones who have to do that.

*Prioritize resources and put them to best use.

*The most important thing for your campaign: your field plan, if it ain’t written down…it does not exist!

*Party ID not completely valuable, since people don’t necessarily vote their registration. Actual voter performance is a Florida statues require SoE to delete voters who haven’t voted in three consecutive elections.

*If a Republican canvasser knocks on your door, don’t turn them away – keep them as long as possible so they can’t be out talking to other people.

*We need people to run in every district so we can gather data and figure out what the size of the Dem base is in that district.

*The best way to contact a person is with another person. You need volunteers to contact people. Key resource.

*Don’t waste the time of your volunteers. You don’t waste the money from a campaign fund, why waste the money for a volunteer, who is donating their time instead of their money. Understand their motivations and listen to them.

*Pay attention and get to know what the people are motivated by and what things inspire them. Reward those things and help them achieve those things that inspire them. Treat them like human beings.

*You do not get, what you do not ask for. A lot of times, we put up a barrier in our own heads and don’t ask for things that we can actually get.

*Fund-raising is all about relationships. People who will donate once, will likely donate again or volunteer time.

*Don’t spend a lot of time on any one donor (except corporate/unions/pacs/really, really wealthy).

*Say thank you. A lot. Now matter how much someone gives, give them back the same amount of love and feedback.

*Keep track of your data. HUGELY IMPORTANT!!! Make sure it is accurate, particularly with spelling of names, which can be a huge negative for the future.

*Your highest priority should be undecided voters who always vote.

*Direct voter contact is most effective in canvassing and phone banks. Nothing else is even remotely as effective.

*Democrats tend to...Discount emotion too much, discount humor, be weenies when it comes to fighting back – Leave no attack unanswered.

*A lot of races get framed around one issue. If you start talking about all kinds of things, you don’t really have a message.

*Message should be short, to the point and easy to understand. It must be repeated a lot and appear in the campaign promotional materials.

*Voters don’t read long messages.

*Voters don’t care about you they care about themselves. Make the message about the voter, not about yourself.

*It’s all about the choices.

*Don't be too specific about issues, your message needs to be more global.

*Repetition is the key to the message.

*Be true to yourself. Voters smell bs. Work within the confines of your race, your position and yourself.

*Supervoters need the least contact.

*If you don’t do the multiple contacts, many people won’t vote.

*Don’t let the fact that you don’t like someone get in the way of getting something done. If they are people who know something you don’t or have some skills you don’t, then you need to work with them.

*Candidates/leaders shouldn’t ask volunteers to do things they wouldn’t do. It sets up a hierarchy and discourages people.

*Every county should be running a coordinated campaign.

*When prioritizing, control what doesn’t happen in your day.

*Tell people the reason behind the plan, it helps them feel included and makes them more productive.

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