Thursday, January 10, 2008

Dave P is home from NH --- Lessons Learned and Other Thoughts from NH

Dave Powell, a Pittsburgh Co-Organizer for the Ron Paul MeetUp, and chair of the Libertaian Party (I'm the vice-chair) sent along this report of his recent trip.
Competing Campaign analysis:

Thompson – flameout… a total no-show.

Rudy - ditto. A very few signs and supporters. We essentially tied with Guiliani - and people are taking notice, and wondering why they haven't heard of this Dr. Paul guy (we heard this on the trip back).

Huckabee - a few sincere volunteers, and lots of media. Fairly weak showing (but dedicated) at polling, only Huck signs at my polling place, one guy for half the day, and a young family that (IMO very bravely with the 3-year old and 4-month old) stuck out the whole day. However, he is taking the social conservative/religious vote. Dr. Paul is a religious man, and he (IMO) rightly does not wear it on his sleeve, or pander to religious groups. But this is costing him votes. IMO a push for the religious vote is needed, so reach out to the church groups, go to putluck dinners, fireman's charities, borough town hall meetings, etc.

Romney has a well oiled machine. Guys with little coiled ear-pieces. Lots of supporter-volunteers. The media came and waited for him. I held a RP sign behind his head for the whole time. :) Follow Romney, and you get the media. Probably all paid/pro organized, only one volunteer showed up at the Anderson Cooper rally, and he would not get off his cell phone to hole up both ends of his wire-framed sign. At my polling place many volunteers showed up, but they almost all left after Mitt made his appearance.

Mccain - one or two volunteers at my polling station. Still gets media attention though.

Kuchinich – a few sincere volunteers, and these guys love us. The DK bus honked when it went past. Poor guy, I felt bad for him, they had signs outside of their HQ and nobody to hold them.

Edwards - had sign wavers, but a weak showing at the polling station. They only showed up a couple of hours from the closing, and only had like 5 people for the last hour, all volunteers possible getting off work.

Hillary - had a shuttlebus, and lots of signs wavers, possibly some pro. Definitely knew that they were on a schedule and had somewhere to be next.

Obama - lots of sign wavers - young volunteers as far as I could tell. Fair grassroots turnout.

Random Thoughts/Suggestions:

Canvassing problems: It’s winter, and dark by 5 nobody was home during daylight. We wasted whole days knocking on empty doors.

Ineffective model – insane computer-generated directions were impossible to follow, and we spent too much time per house. We should have just been given a few streets to hit every door, we had the manpower. So, I would jump out of the car and flyer 2-4 houses while my partner did the packet canvass.

Get a bullhorn to lead chants - people screamed themselves hoarse, and IMO affected turnout the next day.

Nametags/badges for field leaders would help direct the volunteers, help avoid another Hannity incident, and help identify good candidates for interviews to the media...we don't want a Truther or similar selected to represent us on camera. In addition, If anything strange happens(ie: getting violent during a rally), take pictures/video, and try to relate what happened to a staffer. I just saw 2 Youtube clips where the same guy appears as a local voter in Iowa and NH. If (and I haven't seen anybody yet) anyone is acting as a plant in our organization, a little evidence can go a long way.

Continue to let people organize themselves. This actually did happen, but I wanted to point out that allowing people that clicked to work together is most effective. So, for instance, continue to make it easy for people to change what house they stay in so they can get to work early with people they function well with. BUT: Provide more effective communication with the grassroots. Many people noted that they were not put to 100% effective use. Why no Organization Organizer? Roxy, Brinks, Norm and others were great (and they need assistants), but exactly whose job was it to communicate what was going on next? Again, a badge or two might be nice. Often people were milling around chatting while something important was being communicated. If everyone knew who would have the latest news they would pay more attention. The grassroots was still pretty effective at communicating considering everything, but something as simple as, say, bulletin boards at friendly pubs, flyers, or a blog could work wonders (for instance, I could not find a few rally locations in time)

Learn the election laws of every location (including items such as marching on city hall steps - we almost had an incident). Start with the state, but don't forget the municipalities...I was informed of a few rules that would not appear in the state lawbooks. For instance, I was told to wipe off the "Ron Paul 2008" that someone had drawn with white paint on my van's windows (the rationale being that campaigns cannot park a huge sign next to the polling place). I should stress as well, that the "moderator" of the election has ABSOLUTE control over the polling place. They may kick you out for ANY OR NO REASON AT ALL. You MUST abide by their decisions. If you encounter an issue, politely ask them if there is particular election code that they are citing, and is it possible to show you/get a copy of the cited election law so that we may straighten things out with HQ. But they also may just classify you as an "interference" and ask you to leave, so go. Also, ask to watch the votes get counted, preferably with a video camera.

Get a shuttle bus. Hillary had one, and it very effectively got people to where they needed to be. We had people stranded in other towns without rides unable to attend events.

Familiarize yourself with Paul's positions, *especially positions that you do not agree with*. Be prepared to make a pro-life argument. Be prepared to argue immigration positions. these are two deviations from the libertarian platform. It is possible to find some areas of agreement, and just stress those.

Dress as nicely as you can. We need to defringe-ify this movement or the media will turn it into a circus. People have quit jobs, moved, travelled from California, Hawaii, Florida, New York, Virginia, Texas, Montana, Spain, Panama, Poland, Estonia and sacrificed time with family and friends for this effort. Please shave and put on a tie.

I hope this helps those who will be picking up this effort in other areas. I also hope that we have worked through the growing pains and will field a team of seasoned campaigners.

Please feel free to forward this message on to other meetup organizers.

Great Quote from Brad Porter of FACT: The Battle for Freedom is one that can never be won, but can always be lost.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dan Sullivan posted:

I pointed out at a meeting last month that campaign successes are an
emotional roller coaster. Things are never as good as they look on
good days, and never as bad as they look on bad days.

The questions we should be asking are not whether Ron Paul is
winning or losing, but what we are doing well that we could do more
of, and what we should either do better or do less.

I do think the Ron Paul campaign and the Kucinich campaign,
although coming from opposite sides of the spectrum, are the only two
campaigns driven by a sense of right and wrong. That is both a
strength and a weakness.

The strength is that people who are committed to what is right will
throw themselves into the struggle with passion. The weakness is that
it is a short step from rightness to righteousness, and from
righteousness to self-righteousness.

We ideologues, regardless of the ideology, tend to demand that people
agree with us, and to disrespect those who don't. This shows up in the
hounding of Fox News personnel, who might be as troubled by Fox's
corporate manipulation of the news as we are. It also shows up in our
being hypercritical of one another.

But, in the end, Ron Paul will keep fighting because he is not fighting
to just to win an election, but fighting to advance an agenda of respect
for liberty and the Constitution. Indeed, when he finally agreed to run
(after much prodding from libertarians and constitutionalists), he was
clear that he didn't think he had a chance to win.

While I appreciate the positive spin on the election results, my take on
things is far more positive than that. From my perspective, we have
done AMAZINGLY well. We have pulled liberty lovers out of an
extended funk. Conservative liberty lovers haven't been this mobilized
since 1964, and liberal liberty lovers (although split between Paul and
Kucinich) haven't been this mobilized since 1972.

I think the message we need to get out is that Ron Paul is the one
Republican who won't pull the party down with the war. If one of the
warmonger candidates wins the nomination, the Republican Party will
not only lose the Presidency, but will lose dozens of House and Senate
seats as well. While Ron Paul might not be able to beat Obama, he
can certainly beat Clinton, whose "35 years of experience" mostly
consists of being the wife of an imperialist president whose embargo
starved a half-million Iraqi children. In any case, a Ron Paul
candidacy will save Republicans in Congress, even if he does not win
the Presidency.

I also think our immediate concern is Huckabee, because Huckabee's
constituents would support Paul over the front runners. The corporate
whores backing Guiliani, Romney and McCain might prefer one over
the other, but will accept any of them.

I also think we have to pound the war issue. No other issue resonates
with the American People like getting us out of that stupid war.