Warning: Lots of doe-eyed optimism below!
As the 2020 election season begins – and boy it will be a long one -- I want to take a step back and jot down some thoughts and ideas I have going into an intensive Democratic primary, followed by an incredibly important general election in 2020.
First and foremost, I hope that the rhetoric, issues discussed and overall approach will remain positive among Democrats. I also hope that they'll continue to keep their eye on the prize – VICTORY in November 2020. In reality this means attacking the President and his administration (rather than each other) and maybe, at times, taking a step back from a jab or two. Democrats that fight to the bone or race to the bottom will be remembered and not favorably.
Next, I am hopeful that candidates and their supporting campaigns will take a step back once signs are clear, numbers have been crunched and the pathway to primary victory no longer exists or hangs by a thread. The longer and more flooded the primary, the less time there for a sound general election campaign to build, iterate and win in November. (Again, what's our goal here?)
Thinking still about the general election, the flooded primary will provide some opportunities that can be beneficial to the general – well-trained and tested staff, digital and analytics lessons and tests, to name a simple few. My hope here is that these will be shareable and shared, and that folks will take steps to synchronize these when many campaigns eventually become one.
Prior to the general, I hope that steps will be taken by national influencers and organizations to lay the groundwork in states where every vote will count come November. The power is in these leaders’ hands to round up slews of people for rallies, to build volunteer lists, and to bring communities together so that when a general candidate is selected, we're all ready to go. What's more, an emphasis on training and collaboration of volunteers and potential staff alike further readies EVERYONE for victory.
Likewise, while I am aware that a new voter registered in Hamilton, Ohio will not directly lead to a win in Grinnell, Iowa, I like to believe it somehow helps lay the groundwork for our primary goal (after the primary, of course--poorly executed pun intended). In action, this means candidates will invest early in Ohio, Florida and North Carolina. They'll hire staff quickly and make campaign stops and registered voters a big part of their primary strategy.
Political campaigns and supporting organizations make decisions based on the core questions: will this action win voters, build volunteer capacity, or raise money to support both? My hope is that all Democratic candidates, campaign managers and other decisions makers truly want to win the primary and set the party up for victory in November.
If we are truly aligned, we should all simultaneously be asking ourselves: Will this win votes, volunteers and donors in the primary AND in the general? AND If our action is not moving the ball forward on both accounts, should we move the ball at all?