Last night, MRiggio I attended a seminar given by our local county party entitled "How to be an effective Precinct Committeeman."
After hearing the stump speeches of some of our local candidates (good people, one and all), we heard from a man who has been a precinct committeeman in our county since the days of Goldwater. In fact, the way he described his entry into politics as an enthusiastic Goldwater supporter reminded me of the way many Tea Party activists are getting involved today. It seems he was part of a group of political neophytes who didn't think Goldwater was getting enough support, so they started supporting him themselves. They even opened a local campaign office for Goldwater on their own. The really telling part was that he said many of the old guard came around wondering who these guys were and were worrying that they were going to take over the party (sound familiar?). Anyway, enough of the history and on to the lessons.....
The big secret to winning elections and being a GREAT precinct committeeman is...
Wait for it.......
Knock on doors and talk to your neighbors.
That's it. It's the single most effective way to win elections. A person from the neighborhood having a one on one discussion with his neighbors is going to get more people to vote and get more people to vote for the candidates you promote. That's a simple fact and the best way to build support.
Some of the other items he suggested:
The best time to knock on doors is on Halloween. People are already expecting to have visitors and are more receptive to being interrupted by a knock on the door. It's also only 2 days before the election so the visit will be fresh on election day.
Have a packet of campaign flyers to hand the person and/or write your own letter explaining why you support the particular candidates. I just spent about 2 weeks stuffing envelopes for a mailing to 46,000 people with the flyers, so I'll probably write a short letter of support instead.
Be HONEST. Don't sugar coat things or lie about the opposition. Tell them legitimate reasons WHY your candidate is better. For example: our candidate for 10th Judicial Circuit Judge, John Vespa, has experience with both criminal and civil cases and was a police officer before becoming a lawyer, the Democrat is a very good lawyer that specializes in JUST Insurance law. A circuit judge needs to be experienced in both types of law.
If you are honest, people will trust your opinion for future elections (Oh, didn't I tell you? Being Precinct Committeeman is a long term plan to move this country back to the right and get honest people elected to public office.)
Plan your list ahead of time. You can get walking lists from Voter Vault or from your county clerk that identify the hard R's and independents. Knocking on the door of a hard D may be counter productive, he said you don't want to stir them up and remind THEM to vote, but we DO want to get the R's and R leaners out. (I think we should be reaching out to the D's, but this close to the election, he's probably right.) Contact your county headquarters if you don't know how to get either of these.
Be a poll watcher. Get an alphabetical list of voters in your area and check them off as they come in to vote. Towards the end of the day, about an hour before the polls close, start calling the hard R's that you haven't seen yet. Many of them intended to vote, but just forgot and will hurry to the polls. He said he's had many close races over the years decided by a margin of votes that is less than the number of calls he made at the end of the day. If EVERYONE in EVERY PRECINCT did this, we'd never lose an election.
There's probably a few pointers I forgot. If so, I hope MRiggio can fill in the gaps.
Finally, if you aren't a precinct committeeman yet.... GET OFF YOUR DUFF and DO SOMETHING! All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to stand by and do nothing. You're all good people so DO SOMETHING.