Today, rumors of new polls spread claiming that Ned Lamont is pulling ahead in the Democratic Primary in Connecticut. Nancy Skinner blogged about how Dick Cheney has come in to raise money for her opponent at a $1,000 a plate fundraiser and she has lost her voice dialing for dollars.
Last week, I was at DemocracyFest in San Diego, and had some great discussions with Christine Cegelis about the lessons learned from her campaigns. The key message is that we will not bring about change by doing the same thing that the incumbents have been doing for the past couple decades.
We must stop focusing on raising lots of money to do big media buys. Yes, it is important to be on the air, but that isn’t what makes democracy strong, or will help bring about a change in the balance of power. We must use emerging technologies to help bring us back to the retail politics that made democracy strong in our country.
First, let’s think about the importance of volunteers. I don’t know how many hours a typical volunteer puts in on a campaign, but Christine spoke of volunteers that would put in twenty hours a week for a couple months leading up to the election. Let’s say that you needed to pay these people to do the work they are doing, and you paid $10/hour. A thousand volunteers, doing a hundred hours of work at ten dollars an hour is the equivalent of a million dollars. We should be focusing more on this sort of ‘fundraising’. It helps rebuild democracy.
At the Lamont campaign, their advertisements have been viewed on YouTube alone more than 150,000 times and volunteers are out making their own advertisements. We’re not talking about an advertisement that is shown on broadcast television that people with Tivo’s skip over. We’re talking about advertisements that people go out of their way to watch. Meanwhile, Nielsen is reporting new record lows for the least-watched week in the history of their ratings of broadcast networks.
Back to Nancy Skinner’s campaign, I hope she gets her voice back soon. I hope she raises the money she needs. But, even more so, I hope that she raises an army of volunteers that will spread her message effectively around her district and online.
(Full disclosure: I work for Ned Lamont’s campaign)