Words of Encouragement and Advice for Campaign Staffers Everywhere

You are so close to the end

To friends and strangers working on campaigns right now, sprinting for the finish line, powering through life on no sleep and too much caffeine, bless you. 

Bless the staff who are willing to move to a strange city, not just for the last 10 days of an election, but for 10 weeks or 10 months. Bless the staff that live on air mattresses in questionable, vacant houses. Bless the staff that is missing their friends' weddings or their high school reunions, abandoning family obligations, and probably wrecking relationships they left behind to go do this thing that they feel driven to do with a passion they can't explain. Never forget -- working on a campaign you care about is a gift. Other people would kill to have that much passion for their job.  

You are what makes campaigns work

I'm obsessed with the "pod," Keepin' it 1600, and on a recent episode, former Obama staffer Dan Pfeiffer said that presidential campaigns are more science than art now. Big campaigns are data and polling and modeling and targeting, but the press needs to write a narrative. The narrative needs heroes and villains. And Dan admitted that he, and the other hosts of the pod, benefited from that hero narrative. They were in the right place a the right time, they worked for the right guy, and they are going to get to ride on that coattail for a really long time.

Let's be real. That probably isn't happening for you. You're probably in some god forsaken Red-to-Blue congressional district in a place that you've never lived in before and never want to see again. You are probably not going to become a famous political strategist. You are not going to get a job in the White House, or host a podcast that hundreds of thousands of political junkies love. You might get a Hill job and make a shockingly small amount of money for how much DC costs. That is OK. Fame and riches are not the goal. The goal is to get good people elected so we can have a better, more representative democracy that reflects the actual diversity and values of this country. Campaigns only work because you are willing to live in that weird supporter housing and get up every day to fight for your candidate (and hopefully you are actually working for someone really good, deserving of your talent). Don't lose site of the goal. 

Just hold on for a little longer

You might love or hate your coworkers at this point. Emotions are likely running strong in all directions. If you're fighting in a tight race, it is a really stressful time. The next 10 or so days will fly by and be an eternity simultaneously. Just hold on a little longer. Here is my totally candid advice on how to push through this to the end. Warning. Real talk ahead. 

  1. Really try and make sure no one gets a DUI. Campaigns draw adrenaline junkies with unhealthy vices like a moth to the flame. I have worked on SEVERAL campaigns with people who are slogging through on a steady diet of booze, pills, and junk food. Now is not the time for an intervention. Just make sure no one drives drunk. Think DUIs don't happen on campaigns? Wrong. Happen all the time. Not what you want the press team dealing with when the candidate is trying to make the closing argument to voters. 
  2. Speaking of drinking, don't start drinking on Election Night until AFTER the results have been called. No, not after polls close. After the result is called. Why? Because you might be going in to a recount and its really hard to wake up the next day to figure out WTF is going on if everyone is blindingly hungover. I've been through this scenario. It isn't pretty. 
  3. If you haven't already started hooking up with someone on the campaign, now is not the time to start. Again, wait until after the results have been called. It is going to be a massive distraction now. You need to focus on the task at hand. 

That is it. That is all my advice. Pretty much everything else is fair game. Do what you need to do to (legally) win. We have a chance to have a huge wave year election. Make the most of it. Hillary is proud of you. America's favorite dad, Tim Kaine, is proud of you. Now go get 'em! 

Credentials from a few campaign events I worked back in the day... 

Credentials from a few campaign events I worked back in the day... 

Abigail Gardner

Scottie Public Affairs