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You and the 34%: Connecting with High Potential Voters

Posted on August 29, 2021

Conventional Democratic campaigning calls for volunteers to target a known “universe” of likely voters.  This has often left me wondering, while door-knocking or making calls for a political campaign, about all the people  NOT on our lists?  The most rewarding (and joyous) time I ever spent politically I did, indeed, turn the received “wisdom” of Democratic campaigning on its head.

The Saturday before the 2016 Democratic primary, my daughter and I stood near a small shopping center in Jamaica Plain and, with no campaign literature, stickers, or signs, just stopped people to ask them if they were planning to vote on Tuesday.  We were overwhelmed by everyone’s willingness to speak with us and to either tell us (unsolicited) for whom they were voting or to tell us they weren’t voting because they weren’t sure for whom to vote or that they “don’t vote”.  So we listened, they talked, and most of them made a decision and made a commitment to vote. The last young man with whom we spoke said he had totally forgotten about the primary and was going to get a car and drive to Northhampton on Tuesday morning to vote.  Maybe some of these people were among the 34% (current percentage) of people who do not usually vote but well might do so if only someone showed an interest in them and their issues.

Elizabeth Chur, a long-time phone banker with Swing Left San Francisco, believes that listening is the key to engaging the 34% of eligible voters who do not usually vote. Driven to find an approach to engage this population, Elizabeth posited that people could be supported to consider voting by having in-depth conversations about why they don’t vote and what mattered to them. Fortunately, she met Dr. Jackie Tulsky, a HIV and addiction medicine primary care doctor and a Motivational Interviewing trainer who collaborated with her on creating a workshop that they now share with anyone fortunate enough to participate.  Using curiosity, empathy and deep listening, people who have used their approach have been rewarded with rich and fruitful conversations that bring people to various stages in the path to committing to vote, even to the point of voluntarily committing to bring many others into the circle of voters.

We’ve all been to a wide variety of trainings and many of them have enriched our campaigning skills, but never before “You and the 34%” have I attended a game-changing one.  I was so impressed by both the content and the presentation and practice sessions that I contacted Elizabeth and Jackie to request that they present it again for an East Coast audience.  There is no charge for this workshop and we offer a money back guarantee!

For more information, and to RSVP, please visit: https://www.mobilize.us/sba/event/407258/