Wednesday February 17, 2016

Campaign Trail: New Hampshire

If we had been one day earlier, no, less than 15 hours earlier, we would’ve landed at a sun-shiny Boston Logan airport. Instead, I got the chance to witness my first-ever New England area blizzard. This is not your average vacation. 

Just as a quick warning, I’m going to discuss my time spent with Governor John Kasich’s presidential campaign in New Hampshire. That’s right—we’re going to be talking politics.

Wanna know what the best way to learn about the presidential campaign process is? Buy a plane ticket, fly to a primary state, find the closest campaign headquarters, and knock on their door. Get ready, things are about to get hectic. Sure wikipedia is a great source, but just like your high school librarian will tell you, there’s much much better ones. So, what’s it like to work on a presidential campaign? 

Get ready to be on your feet. Constantly. 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. 

There’s never a dull moment, and all plans are more than likely to change. In the case of New Hampshire, pre-primary polls called it an incredibly close race—a point that was driven home by New Hampshire campaign ground staff. Every phone call, every knocked door was essential to push the race in our favor. On the day before the election, over 40,000 phone calls were placed by volunteers and campaign staff (sadly, my daily average was 411 calls). The other large half of the process involves going around various neighborhoods and knocking on specific houses that are outlined in what are called walk-books (lists of names and addresses of registered independent and Republican voters). Knocking these doors is definitely the most rewarding part of the whole process, especially after walking away from a house with support for your candidate. But it’s also here where you really get to meet and get to know the voters. I’ll say this about New Hampshire residents: they’re all incredibly hospitable and absolutely love to tell you that you need to put on a hat and gloves because of how cold it is. I wouldn’t trade my time talking to these people for anything—it's standing on those front porches in the freezing cold where you see democracy working best. 

Governor Kasich held over 100 town halls in New Hampshire—more than any other candidate. What I’ve learned working on his campaign is that it’s not about the tv ads. Or the radio commercials. It’s about getting out and meeting the people. Campaigning is about talking face to face with the voter, understanding what they’re facing, and helping them see your vision. After coming in second place (an absolutely huge victory), Governor Kasich said something in his election night speech that really hit home with me. 

“It doesn’t take government. It takes our hearts. Our hearts to change America…it takes going slow, spending your time.” 

This is why I took five days out of my college schedule to go to New Hampshire. I believe that we can all make a change, we just have to put in the effort. 

If you’ve every wanted to work on a political campaign, do it— it’s well worth every second of your time. Be a part of change.

 

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