Archives for Grassroots

Why Conservatives Should Focus on Precinct Organization

precinct organizationIt’s a truism in politics to say that “all politics is local”, but truisms are truisms because they’re usually true. In this case it’s right on the money.

The precinct is the most “local” unit in American politics.

If you’re not familiar with it, put simply, a “precinct” is essentially your neighborhood. It’s a geographic area with specific boundaries, (usually defined by your state), that surrounds the place where you go to vote. The name of your precinct is listed on your voter registration card.

There are more than 203,000 precincts in the United States, each with an average of about 1,000 registered voters. Politically, they represent the building blocks of the entire American political and electoral system. Every political district in America, (whether school board, local council, state legislature or congress) is just a different combination of different precincts.

They are the pieces to the American political jigsaw puzzle.

Politics (and political power) is all about people

In American politics power flows from the bottom (the precinct level) up, because precincts are where the people are.

Bottom line? If you’re organized in the precincts you can have an influence on multiple elections at all levels.

It also helps in grassroots lobbying campaigns, since most incumbent politicians are interested in getting re-elected – and people who are organized in the precincts tend to get their attention.

Good grassroots organization emphasizes the important role that precincts play by focusing on individuals who are willing to identify, educate and organize others in their own neighborhoods. That goes for campaigns, grassroots lobbying efforts and gaining influence in the Republican Party.

No matter what issue you have a problem with, or what aspect of politics you’re interested in, having an impact at the precinct level means being able to have an impact further up the political food chain.

You could say it’s a case of “think globally, act locally”.


Have other ideas or thoughts? Share them in the comments section below.

Are You Building the Political Farm Team?

uncle samMost every professional baseball player that you see has spent time in the minor leagues before they got a chance to play in the big leagues. Nobody lasts forever, and eventually somebody has to move up and take someone else’s place. It’s why teams spend so much time and money recruiting and developing new talent.

It’s called the farm system, and it’s the same way with politics.

Most elected officials have spent time in the political version of the minor leagues – local grassroots organizations, party organizations, civic groups, school boards, etc. Players at this level are usually “recruited” to run for office at higher levels, or to work in campaigns or as government staffers.

While you have surely seen local activists go on to become leaders or even elected officials at various levels, what’s not always evident is the recruiting and training of the volunteers that made their campaigns successful – and the past leaders that recruited them to the cause.

Politicians come and go, but politics is forever.

Think Local

All too often people allow themselves to get distracted by national issues, or what’s going on in Washington, DC and they overlook what’s going on right in their own neighborhood. As a result, they miss opportunities to leverage their activity and have a real impact on things they care about.

The fact is that local politics is the training ground for everything else. It’s the farm system. Practice at this level prepares you for the next. Participation builds the network of conservatives who can collaborate together on a state and national basis. Fundamentals are learned.

The result is that thinking locally serves two purposes: 1) it focuses and leverages attention and resources to have an impact on things that impact where people actually live and 2) it builds a healthy farm team for the conservative movement.

Recruit New Players

Politics is a game of numbers – whoever has the most usually wins. It’s amazing how many people overlook that fundamental point. As a result, one of the most important functions of any grassroots activist is to recruit others to their cause by identifying those who share their beliefs and concerns.

But the job doesn’t end there. It also involves teaching those like-minded citizens how to effectively engage in the political process and remove the mystery that surrounds it for most people. The more knowledge a new recruit has the more confidence they will have, the more likely they will be to actually do something, and the more effective they will become.

As Yoda put it to Luke Skywalker, “Pass on what you have learned”.

Groom New Leadership

This process is even more important for grassroots leaders. You can’t be much of a leader if you don’t recruit…and you can’t be sure that whatever you do will go on without you (because eventually you WILL be gone) if you don’t focus on replacing (or even multiplying) yourself.

There’s an old saying in politics that, “You can’t beat somebody with nobody”. In other words, if you don’t have a candidate, or better yet, a candidate who is viable based on experience, exposure, network and resources, then you you’re probably not going to win. To beat the “somebodies” on a regular basis, you need a deep bench. And you only get that with a good farm team.

That’s why every good leader should work to identify and train the next generation of leadership.

The success of the conservative agenda hangs on bringing new people into the process, and then promoting them up the ladder and grooming new leaders and potential candidates.


Take a moment right now and make a note of anyone else who needs to get involved with you, or who might have leadership potential. Then make plans to reach out to them soon.

Six Basic Online Campaign Tools and Activities

knifeSince we’ve been discussing online activity and organization lately, I wanted to give some thoughts on some of the specific but basic things that you can do online in support of a campaign or organization, (or to augment any “offline” organization activity).

Here’s a handy list of six basic online campaign tools and activities that you should incorporate into your organizational strategy.

1) Create an online campaign:

Some services let you use their sites to host campaigns where you can set up online petitions, online faxes to members of Congress, private online groups for your supporters, etc.  These services are usually free, (or at least cheaper than creating your own website!).

2) Online polls and surveys:

Conduct opinion polls of members or supporters.  These can also be useful when trying to identify prospective supporters, (ex. set up an online survey that asks questions that will help you identify likely prospects and capture their email addresses – then email links to the survey to your supporters, encourage email forwarding, post it on Facebook, Twitter, etc.).

3) Build your database:

Once you’ve got a spot online, you can have a central place where people can sign up for a newsletter so you can communicate with them on a regular basis.  (You can do it yourself with your own email programs, or online solutions such as Constant Contact, Mad Mimi or others).  Just be sure to provide a webform or clearly visible link to where they should sign up…and promote it!

4) Post Information:

Create a central place where supporters can come and get important information about your cause that they can use to help recruit others and/or communicate to elected officials in lobbying efforts, (such as talking points, flyers, voter guides, scripts for telephone calls, etc.).  You can also offer your information in a PDF format that supporters can download and print on desktop printers to distribute in “off line” environments.

5) Provide links:

Offer a list of important and useful links that supporters can use, (such as to key contact information for elected officials, local newspaper “letters-to-the-editor” information, talk-radio call-in numbers, voter registration links, etc.).  Also post links to your Facebook and Twitter accounts, (if you have any).

6) Online scheduling:

You can use online calendar services to maintain a schedule of important dates, activities and events to easily update and keep people informed, (free services such as Google Calendar even allow people to sign up for email alerts from the calendar).  Make it easy for people to keep up with what’s going on and when they can get involved.


All of these online campaign tools and elements should eventually be incorporated into any online organizational strategy.  If you’re not online, or you don’t give people an opportunity to “sign up” online, then you’re missing out on a tremendous opportunity.

A good Internet presence, (web site, blog, email and social media), better enables you to be found by potential supporters, to communicate and get them organized.

Remember, it’s not just about who YOU know, or who may stumble across your information, but it’s about your supporters – and who THEY know.

Be a resource!


(Get more tips like these in my “Grassroots 101 Training Series“.  Check it out!)