The Value of Relationships in Modern Day Campaigns
In recent years building in person relationships along the campaign trail has significantly diminished. We now see more relationship building from behind our devices – whether it be from our social media account, the news, or through text messages. A couple decades ago, if you did not bring your new neighbor a welcoming treat, you were doing something wrong. Now, it almost seems strange to try and build relationships face to face.
Technology has made it much more convenient to communicate and connect with others. It is a wonderful tool to use in conjunction with face to face relationship building. When pairing these two types of voter contact together, the possibilities are endless. The presidential race of 2008 and 2016 showed how the combination of these two methods is essential for every campaign. President Obama won in 2008 because of the loyalty of his volunteers. 2016 showed the same pattern when Bernie Sanders almost became the democratic nominee. These volunteers were nurtured, but not controlled, according to Reed Millar in “Why digital organizing needs to get personal.” These volunteers were loyal.
These volunteers help win campaigns. These volunteers are super volunteers. They have the ability to recruit other volunteers, and use their connections to produce positive results. Nicole Schlinger described these volunteers as, “they use their personal relationships to influence the people they already know” in Campaigns and Elections. That is why it is so important to show up and be present. According to the downloadable report “Chatter Matters: The 2018 Word of Mouth Report” by Jay Baer and Daniel Lemin, “83% of Americans say that a word of mouth recommendation from a friend or family member makes them more likely to purchase that product or service.”
One of the critiques regarding the Hillary Clinton campaign was their “top-down field strategy”. This strategy suffered due to the absence of a deep volunteer foundation in key states like Michigan. This campaign did not have the relationships that were needed to excel. This campaign focused on volunteer recruitment, not lasting relationships with voters. Millar states, “If the DNC wants to move to a 50-state strategy that tries to build common ground with voters, it will need to harness a wave of support and listen to their voters.” The key to any campaign is to remember, the government should respond to the will of the people. Voters just want their voice heard. That is why it is so valuable to know your voters.
Technology, when used correctly, can bring value to your campaign. It can help you get in contact with the correct voter, instead of wasting your time with the wrong voter. We need to be in contact with persuadable voters. Technology can also help organize volunteers, and their efforts. Ultimately, campaigns suffer when these two elements of voter contact are not utilized. Be present. Listen to your voters. As a result, they will listen to you.