More on the importance of precinct organization

precinct organization

So, why is precinct organization so important?

As I’ve said before, the old “all politics is local” truism is pretty much true because politics is all about people – and “local” is where the people are.

In other words, that’s where the (potential) power is.

But since successful politics requires organization, that’s where precincts come in, because they’re the most local (or basic) unit in American politics.

Virtually everything in politics is built around them, like a series of large, overlapping political jigsaw puzzles.  That means that, when it comes to elections or issue based lobbying campaigns, a focus on local precinct organization can have a big ripple effect on the things you care about.

So, how do you get started with precinct organization?

The best way to organize anything is to put someone in charge of it.  For precincts, that means “precinct captains”.  A precinct captain is someone who serves as a point of contact between the people in their local neighborhood and outside conservative political groups and activities.

Primary Goals for Effective Precinct Captains:

1: Identify ten other conservative activists

In order to put the meat on the bones of any organization, you need people, and that means identifying others who are willing to help.  Try to identify at least ten.

2: Identify as many other conservative voters in the precinct as possible

Once a core group of activists has been identified, what should they do?  Why, identify other fellow conservatives of course.  (Successful politics is about addition and multiplication!)

3: Inform and mobilize precinct volunteers

Once a list of identified conservatives has been put together, the next step is to inform them and get them involved.

4: Stay informed

Keep up to date on current events in the area and identify potential projects and opportunities for activism – and pass the information on to others.

More details on precinct captains here.

Five Tools for Precinct Organization

If you’re serious about organizing, focus on doing the basics.  Here are some tools you’ll want to use:

1) A list of all registered voters in your precinct

This is your first priority…who’s registered to vote?

2) “Prospect” lists

Having a “warm” list of prospective conservatives makes your organization job easier.

3) Blank voter registration forms

If people aren’t registered, they can’t vote.  And if they don’t vote, they don’t count.

4) A map of the precinct

Make it easier to organize by knowing who lives where.

5) Maintain a political events calendar

Let your people know what’s going on and how they can get involved.  Things like local elections and public meetings are cyclical.  Start a calendar.

More details on precinct tools here.

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These are just some highlights on why precinct organization is so important.  The takeaway here is the importance of thinking local – and doing the basics.

The rest will begin to take care of itself.

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

Organizing precincts with precinct captains

precinct captainsAs I have mentioned before, the best way to impact politics is to organize at the precinct level.  And the best way to organize is to put someone in charge.

When it comes to organizing in precincts, that means “precinct captains”.

So what is a precinct captain?  Put simply, a precinct captain is someone who serves as a point of contact between the people in their local neighborhood and outside conservative political groups and activities.

By distributing petitions, getting political information to conservative neighbors, making get-out-the-vote phone calls on or before an Election Day, a precinct captain can mobilize a large bloc of people to influence political and legislative activities.

It is also important to understand that many of the activities of a precinct captain are seasonal.  Depending on what elections are approaching or what’s happening in Congress, your state legislature or local council, your focus and activity levels will vary, but there are some primary goals.

The primary goals of precinct captains

1: Identify Ten Conservative Activists

This is probably the most important job of any precinct captain, because in order to put the meat on the bones of any organization, you need people, and that means identifying others who are willing to help.  Try to identify at least ten.  These will be the people who are the most interested in what you are doing.

The goal is to be able to quickly line up volunteers when a major project comes up and help is needed.  Keep in mind that different people enjoy doing different things.  Make note of what they’re willing to do and use them accordingly.  There will be many different things to do and plenty of work to go around.

2: Identify Other Conservative Voters

Now that a core group of activists has been identified, what should they do? Identify fellow conservatives.  A good goal is to find enough conservative voters to equal 10% of the total number of registered voters in any given precinct.  This is plain, old-fashioned voter identification.

There are any number of ways to go about it, from using issues surveys, petitions, church directories, etc., and cross-referencing that information with voter registration lists.

3: Educate and Mobilize Identified Voters

Once a list of identified conservatives has been put together, the next step is to educate them and get them involved.  This can include distributing voter education materials to them on candidates or ballot issues, making sure that they actually vote on Election Day, or encouraging them to lobby the local school board, council or state legislature on some key issue.

It’s also important to encourage them to get involved in their local Republican Party.  The more solid conservatives we have in GOP grassroots and leadership positions, the better for the conservative movement as a whole.

4: Stay Informed

Finally, a precinct captain’s job is to keep up to date on current and future projects, activities and opportunities for activism – and pass the information on to others.

When you’ve got this kind of organization on a precinct by precinct basis, then you’ve got an infrastructure that can be activated and have an impact on the things you care about when it counts!

(Find out more about precinct captains and local organization in general in my Grassroots Training Series!)

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”.

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