Campaign Training and the Future of Politics

  • Share This Post
ii_iqvenk3j0_1560a3990cd0dae1 copy

With the commencement of the 2016 political party conventions, campaign training strategies is becoming a popular topic of discussion.  Like training for any other job, campaign training is necessary to the success of the campaign.

Campaigns are often massive, fast-paced, large scale operations that require many staffers and volunteers to all be trained in a short period of time. Most large political campaigns consist of a field department, communications department, fundraising department, technology department, and legal department, just to name a few. On the higher end such as the 2012 Obama campaign, political campaigns can have close to a thousand paid staffers and thousands more of volunteers spread out across the country. They can raise close to a billion dollars over the lifetime of the campaign and have multiple offices in every state in the nation. In a recent report by Hamilton Place Strategies, presidential campaigns were referred to as “the fastest startups in the world” So how do candidates implement training programs that can result in operations that rival the revenue and personnel of some of the country’s largest corporations in such a short time frame of 12-18 months?

Types of Campaign Training

With an incredibly diverse background of volunteers and a very short time-table, Political campaign training poses some unique challenges that are not present in other types of training. According to Local Victory, the first thing that some people need training in is basic political education. Although most people will already possess this knowledge, a firm understanding of how elections work and the basics of things such as campaign structure, fundraising, and grassroots activity is crucial to being able to perform your job effectively.

The second type of training is required for everyone from a high school volunteer to the head of communications. No matter how much political experience a person has, there is no way that they are trained on the basics of that specific campaign. Because every campaign has its own message, important issues, and platform, campaign specific training is very important.

The third type of campaign training is job specific training. Whether they are stuffing envelopes or bookkeeping, the diversity of volunteers in a campaign requires that everyone is trained well on their specific job and all that it entails.

Methods of Campaign Training

The standard methods and tools used for campaign training hasn’t really evolved to incorporate technology as much as other industries have in the past couple of years. Generally, training for large campaigns is done in one of two ways. Either people are brought in and work with campaign leadership to develop a training program for staff and volunteers, or they attend a regional training seminar. This holds true for party training as well as some large campaign training programs. However, the fast paced and large geographical nature of large political campaigns doesn’t efficiently lend itself to this type of training. That is why some party leadership groups and candidates have started to incorporate technology into their training. For example, The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee used online training and mobile apps to do most of their grassroots activities for the state legislative races they are involved in all over the country in the 2014 midterm elections. Also, the Bernie Sanders campaign used technology to do much of their organizing for the 2016 presidential race and to give their volunteers the tools to build their grassroots activities.

Political campaign training is a complex, multi-faceted operation that is crucial to the success of any political campaign. The nature of the training itself lends itself to implementation of technology and the room for innovation in this area is huge. With some groups already using technology to revolutionize their training and operations, there is no doubt that this trend will only continue to grow into the future. Even though most of the growth seen in this area has been for large, national campaigns, there is significant opportunity in scaling these methods for smaller, local campaigns.  Considering technologies ever-increasing role in our society, there is a large market for all sizes of political campaigns to integrate technology in their training.