In a cycle when campaigns are more reliant on digital than ever, technical skills like email fundraising and P2P text outreach can make the difference in tight races.
It’s no secret that those are the exact skills in short supply on campaigns below the top of the ticket.
Some practitioners believe digital skills can be taught to new hires and prefer to get relatively green staffers onboarded. But what about on races when it’s just the not-so-digitally-savvy candidate and a rockstar staffer or volunteer?
Now, there’s a free camp for that. Digital Campaign Camp previously charged $350 for down-ballot candidates, digital staff and volunteers on the left to learn from top practitioners.
This year, with concern mounting about down-ballot candidates’ ability to reach voters without in-person outreach, sponsors ponied up to eliminate the fee for attendees — and pay the trainers.
Organizers say they expect 1,000 to 2,000 participants for the camp, which is broken up into three or four 30-90-minute sessions spread over Aug. 17-28.
This cycle, said organizer Brad Caldana, digital is “most of your outreach and you’ve got to figure this out. Most candidates haven’t full digested that. They’re starting at a deficit and we’ve got 90 days.”
A former digital training director on Obama 2012, Caldana said that his campaign curriculum focuses on tools that are “less about the shiny and new and more about the tried and true.”
“While they may have made updates to what they do, they’ve been in the game for a couple cycles,” he said of platforms like ActionSprout.
“That is the biggest difference right now is we have tested tools and methodologies that can be applied down ballot.”
The camp is the latest in a growing list of free resources aimed down ballot. DSPolitical said Aug. 4 it will begin accepting applications from down-ballot candidates for a new $50,000 grant program that will provide in-kind digital ad buys.
Still, down-ballot campaigns, the long-tail of the industry, remain an under-served segment.
“It doesn’t make sense for a bigger firm,” said Caldana. “You would really have to have an order of magnitude — at least 50 down-ballot races. A lot of them start out without the money.”