My daughter works for the Democratic Party back east, and when elections come around she spends a huge amount of time volunteering. For Democrats, volunteering almost inevitably means canvassing and phonebanking. During the last election they lost an election they expected to win, and when they went back and asked the voters why they voted against our candidate, the voters said they had rebelled against getting so many phone calls and literature drops.
And I got some 20 calls in one day. And in the campaign I was working on, we had several people tell us, “Ok, I’ll contribute, but only if you promise to stop calling.”
The double whammy is that we are inundated with advertisements and phone calls, but we see much of it as just inwanted spam rather than valuable information.
“When the only tool you’ve got is a hammer,
every problem looks like a nail.”
Problem is, campaigns just don’t know any better, spamming us is all they’ve been taught. They are doing what the campaign before them did, and by the time they got to work, everything was already in crisis mode, so they didn’t have time to try out new ideas. And if they received any training, such as Camp Carnahan, they were taught by those whose day job is to sell canvassing and phonebanking and similar forms of spam to the campaigns.
And much of it is just that: spam. The voters want hard information so they can distinguish what makes the candidates differ from each other so they can make in informed choice. And the campaigns all too often want to win just by name recognition or by emotion, so they send out tons of literature with family pictures, but too little about issues. And in this last campaign, many campaigns didn’t even want the voters to know which party the candidates belonged to. In the campaign I was with, our side sent out a flyer noting that our opponent never stated anywhere that he was a Republican (yet we weren’t much better…). (Same with Jim Talent…guess nobody wanted to say they were Republican this election…)
And if you check out all those organizations which ask candidates where they stand on the issues, the candidates very seldom respond.
So the vicious circle continues. Every election, the candidates spend more and more money to spam us with more and more non-information that tells us less and less about them.
Maybe if we start getting more involved with the campaigns, we can push from the inside to get them to give out more information rather than just more spam, and perhaps find ways to give people the information they want and need in ways they want to receive it.