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Anecdotal Evidence – July 30: Want people to vote? Talk about the weather.

Lars Gesing, CU News Corps Assistant Director

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Logo final_highIn our Anecdotal Evidence column, each day movers and shakers share personal stories of how intriguing (and often odd) presidential campaigning in their respective swing state can be.

Campaigning is no rocket science

Brad Anderson, Iowa State Director for President Obama's 2012 re-election campaign. Photo: Lars Gesing/CU News Corps

Brad Anderson, Iowa state director for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. Photo: Lars Gesing/CU News Corps

Brad Anderson – Obama’s 2012 Iowa state director

“We had this guy, Randy Lyon, up in Dubuque. Randy Lyon is a retired school teacher. We have 40 days of early voting. And a big part of our strategy was to sign people up to vote early. To do that, they had to fill out a card requesting a ballot. When I would go out and canvass, I would get six or seven cards filled out. During a canvass shift, you’d knock on 45 to 50 doors. Randy, by the end, had 1,500 people sign up early. It was just an enormous effort. Nobody had been able to match that.

“On an all-staff conference call, I said, ‘We need to talk to Randy. This guy is amazing.’ I asked Randy, ‘What are you doing that makes you hit all these goals?’ He’s on this call, and he says, ‘Well… like all Iowans, I talk about the weather. I knock on their door, and it is a beautiful day. And I go, I want to encourage you to work early because we all know in November, it can snow. We want to make sure you get that vote in.’ He relates it all to the weather. That’s it. He says, ‘Sometimes I talk policy. But most of the time I tell people if they are Obama supporters, they need to vote early because of the weather.’

“We had hundreds of people on this call, and I said, ‘Is everyone hearing this? I expect everyone to use this strategy moving forward.’ After that, we actually had President Obama call him.”

***

Someone’s always listening. Always.

Norm Sterzenbach – Democratic Strategist, former Iowa Democratic Party Executive Director

“When we get close to caucus time, you can’t have a private political conversation in any sort of coffee shop or restaurant. There’s national reporters or campaign staff everywhere. It’s an important lesson if you are actually working on a campaign. I was a staffer in 1999 working for Bill Bradley. I had gone out to lunch and I was really irritated about something the campaign had done internally. I was really complaining about it over lunch. This reporter came over, was very kind about it and said, ‘Hey, you’re young. It’s probably one of your first campaigns. Just something to keep in mind that there’s no safe place for a conversation like that. I listened to the entire conversation. I cover presidential politics. It’s not the stuff that I do, but if I were one of those reporters this would be a story.”

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Explanatory Multimedia Reporting from CU Boulder Journalism Students
Anecdotal Evidence – July 30: Want people to vote? Talk about the weather.