How and Why to Be Like the Voter You Are Talking To ( for Political Field Organizers )

If you’re running a political campaign, chances are that you have a couple of core demographic groups that you’re focused on reaching. Perhaps you’re trying to assemble a coalition of young voters, progressives, and those who care about climate change. Or, you may be working on persuading seniors, fiscal conservatives, and those focused on school choice to support your candidate.  Every smart campaign uses groupings like these to reach the 50%+1 votes needed to win on Election Day.

For many campaigns, it can be tempting to think that any volunteer can be trained how to interact with any demographic group. And while that’s true in certain respects, research shows that the volunteer organizers that will be most effective in persuading people to your cause are those volunteers who are most like the voters they are talking to.

how to be like the voter you are talking to

Changing Minds, Confirming Choices

People like to talk to other people that they think understand them and know their situation. Most people feel most comfortable when surrounded by others who are like them.  This is true outside the political context, but even more so inside it. In today’s contentious environment, many people are reluctant to talk politics with those who they perceive as having wildly different political leanings.

Sometimes, your campaign will want to use field volunteers to confirm the choices that voters have already made.  Other times, your volunteer team will be asked to change people’s minds by persuading voters to change their views on the issues or candidates. Either way, You’ll have more success when your volunteers come from a similar demographic as the voters you are targeting.

For example, if you are targeting younger voters, recruit younger volunteers. If you are trying to talk with stay-at-home moms in the Midwest, recruit some moms from the Midwest to meet with voters while their kids are at school. If you want to convince people to change their minds about gun control, find some volunteers who have already moved from one side to the other on that issue.

This definitely applies more so to door to door canvassing, but there’s a lot a person can tell about someone through a phone call. Ethnicities, age, and accent can imply certain political leanings. Which is why it is a great idea to pair phone banking volunteers with voter contacts that are similar to them.

How to Recruit the Right Volunteers

As you can see, one of the most important things you can do if you want your field organizers to be successful is to recruit the right volunteers.  Because voter demographics are so important, the first step to recruiting the right volunteers is to figure out which voter demographics you are targeting.  Your campaign needs to know which voters will make up its coalition, so it knows which volunteers to recruit.

The next step is to hone your message for those demographic groupings. Why should senior citizens support your campaign? Why should pro-life voters care about your candidate?  Once you have honed that message, you can use it to start recruiting volunteers from those demographics. When recruiting, be sure to explain the importance of volunteers to your campaign, and how the volunteer can make a real impact on Election Day.