Beyond blogging: Personal connections win elections

Not a week goes by where we don't engage in soul-searching about BlueNC's role in the political stratosphere. To some observers, BlueNC is an odd-bird with a kook in charge. To others, we are an indispensable source of community. Many depend on us for insights about which bits of news might matter most, and how different stories are connected to one another. Some of our more recent soul-searching involves the intersection of Facebook communities, and how traditional blogging may or may not fit into that growing space.

No matter what realm which we operate in, however, we never lose sight of the main reason we are here: to influence elections and public policy. And despite our passion for blogging, we know its limits. Simply put, blogs are not effective vehicles for activating and mobilizing people to action, especially for getting them to the polls during elections. We can inform, we can cultivate, we can educate, but we cannot gain the commitments needed to assure they'll show up to vote.

Veteran political consultants understand this, which is why they pour so much money into voter contact efforts. But there's something even more powerful: truly personal communications.

We saw this happen in Orange County recently, in the sheriff's run-off election. The race between Caldwell and Blackwood was a toss-up all along, two great candidates, either of whom would be an asset for any community. Both mounted solid campaigns in every way.

But then things got personal. As a member of a Google group associated with my wife's political salon, I received an email one day that addressed some personal and specific reasons the sender had for endorsing Blackwood. That email triggered an extensive exchange with much disagreement and differing points of view. In the end, I know of several people who changed their minds and decided to vote for Blackwood.

Bottom line: Personal and specific reasons offered by an individual we know and respect changed our minds. Multiply this experience a hundred times over across North Carolina and you have a proven model for getting people to the polls to vote.

Why am I writing this now? I want you to start thinking about your own personal email list and how you can put it to good use over the next three months from now. Who can you contact and what can you say that would move people to action, that would move them to vote. What message from you will help your friends understand that voting for Kay Hagan and Robin Hudson is the way to go? What frequency of contact would be most effective.

For me, the motivation is simple. I want North Carolina to be a safe place for my daughter Lily and my granddaughter Poppy. If we don't change direction soon, Lily and Poppy will find themselves under the control of men who couldn't care less about their freedoms and rights.

I plan to share this message far and wide, by email and in personal conversations, with as many people as I possibly can. And don't be surprised if I blog about it too.



How many people in North Carolina could you email right now?

My list is around 100, and not all of them are lefties. I'm going to be developing a bigger list over the next few weeks ... and then I'm going to put it to work in October and November.

Please don't funnel me into your spam folder.

This is one reason

We like calling people in our own county when we phone bank. We may not know the person we're talking to, but there is more of a connection when you live in the same neighborhood, town or county.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

But nothing replaces face to

But nothing replaces face to face contact. We should never forget that. I don't mean knocking on doors, though that can be effective. I mean not being afraid to talk about important issues to people we know and come in contact with regularly. It is a delicate balance, as you don't want to come across as that zealot that people avoid at the post office, in the Food Lion, or at the ball field. The ability to talk with knowledge and calmly about issues and offer personal opinions based on that can make you someone that others might turn to for information that helps to form their perspective. They in turn communicate with others and you have a snow ball affect. There is no better compliment that someone saying, "I keep hearing about (insert issue or candidate) and I was just wondering what you thought cause I know you keep up with that sort of thing." That doesn't mean they are going to ultimately agree with your point of view, but it does mean they have an opportunity to look at it from more that one perspective.

I'm a moderate Democrat.