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Episode 17 - Diversity and Politics

In theory, our democracy is based in representation. But in reality, our government is disproportionally white, straight, and male. According to the Pew Research Center, the 115th Congress is the most diverse in history, with almost one-in-five voting members a racial or ethnic minority. Even so, these numbers are woefully inadequate compared to the actual composition of the nation’s population. But to make progress in governmental representation, we must also have a diverse pipeline that leads to public office. And it does not take long at the AAPC’s Pollie Awards to notice that the broader political sphere lacks diversity.

This week on another LIVE episode of the Election University podcast, our hosts Reiny Cohen and Jason Bennett talk diversity and politics with China Dickerson. China is the Deputy Political Director for NARAL Pro-Choice America, the Chair of the Young Democrats of America Women’s Caucus, and President of the political strategy firm, Dickerson Strategies. They chat about recruiting and retaining women and people of color to political roles, expanding diversity in leadership, and ways to that our political parties and leaders can #DoBetter to eliminate systemic barriers to greater representation.

You can (try your best to) keep up with China and her work with NARAL Pro-Choice America, Dickerson StrategiesYoung Democrats of America, or DC Young Democrats by following her on twitter at @MsChinaD or connecting with her on Linkedin.

So listeners, we want to know what you think! What are you doing in your workplace or political sphere to incorporate more, diverse voices? What do you think must be done to bring more voices to the table in your political party?  How have you seen this industry change in the last decade? Let us know what you are up to and your thoughts about this podcast by emailing us at podcast@ElectionU.com or leave a note in the comment section below.

You can listen to the show right here on the EU website or by subscribing in iTunes, Apple Podcasts, GooglePlaySpotifyStitcherSoundcloudiHeartRadio, and more! If you do subscribe, please leave us a rating and review. We love the feedback and we read every one! If you'd like to hear a particular topic on our podcast, please email podcast@electionu.com. As always, thanks for listening!

Jason Bennett
Apr, 17 2018

Episode 16 - Are Democrats Bad at Message Discipline?

If you’re a Democrat running for office in 2018, you may be hoping to ride the big Democratic Blue Wave. But what are Democrats doing to make sure this groundswell of Democratic movement is a splash, not a splat? This week on the Election University podcast, our hosts Reiny Cohen and Jason Bennett talk strategy with Democratic National Committee Deputy Chair, Congressman Keith Ellison. Congressman Ellison lends his expert advice and inspiration to maximize the blue wave up and down the ballot. Plus, we discuss if Democrats are good at message discipline. 

You can keep up with Congressman Ellison on his campaign websiteCongressional site, or by following him on twitter @keithellison. You can also tune into his podcast We the Podcast by subscribing here.

Special thanks to Congressman Ellison and to all our listeners who sent in thoughtful questions. We want to keep hearing from you! What did you think of this week’s episode? What are you doing to further the Blue Wave? Have you attended organizing academies or amplified your outreach on social media? Let us know what you are up to and your thoughts about this podcast by emailing us at podcast@ElectionU.com or leave a note in the comment section below.

You can listen to the show right here on the EU website or by subscribing in iTunes, Apple Podcasts, GooglePlaySpotifyStitcherSoundcloudiHeartRadio, and more! If you do subscribe, please leave us a rating and review. We love the feedback and we read every one! If you'd like to hear a particular topic on our podcast, please email podcast@electionu.com. As always, thanks for listening!

Jason Bennett
Apr, 10 2018

Episode 15 - Opposition Research and the Peculiar World of Dumpster Divers

Digging through your opponent's trash? Combing Facebook for controversial posts? Going to the police station to ask for arrest records? Opposition research has been the topic of several explosive news cycles lately. Salacious accusations seem to be the new normal in politics. But if you are a down-ballot candidate running for small town city council, opposition research may seem unneccessary. But while research does not always entail explosive dossiers of scandalous information, it certainly can have a dramatic impact on any political election.

This week on the Election University Podcast, our hosts Jason Bennett and Reiny Cohen dive into the peculiar world of opposition research. Our guest this week is Jake Wagman, Principal at Shield Political Research in South Bend, Indiana. With extensive experience in investigative journalism and political research, Jake is an expert on the various uses, methodologies, and logic behind opposition research. Jake shares some industry tips and tricks on how get the juicy details about your opposition, hire staff to protect your campaign, and even investigate your own public history.

You can learn more about Jake Wagman and his work at Shield Political Research on his website here. You can also send him an email directly at jake@shieldresearch.com.

Okay listeners, we want to hear from you! Does the thought of opposition research give you the heebie jeebies? Or are you ready to get down and dirty to hold your opposition accountable? Are you panicked about what public information may be out there about you? Tell us your thoughts! Send your thoughts and suggestions to podcast@ElectionU.com or leave a note in the comment section below.

You can listen to the show right here on the EU website or by subscribing in iTunes, Apple Podcasts, GooglePlaySpotifyStitcherSoundcloudiHeartRadio, and more! If you do subscribe, please leave us a rating and review. We love the feedback and we read every one! If you'd like to hear a particular topic on our podcast, please email podcast@electionu.com. As always, thanks for listening!

Jason Bennett
Apr, 03 2018

Episode 14 - Campaigning on the Environment

And though it may seem like partisan issue, a large majority of Americans from all political persuasions support protecting the environment. We all want safe water to drink, clean air to breathe, and unpolluted natural spaces to  enjoy. That’s why the Environmental Defense Fund is bridging the gap between science and our current politics, environmental protection and our economic health.

On this episode of the Election University podcast, our hosts Reiny Cohen and Jason Bennett interview Morgan Pinnell, Political Affairs Manager at the Environmental Defense Fund. Morgan and her team are developing EDF Action Fund’s Campaign Academy, a new online program to train candidates to run, win, and lead on local environmental issues. They’ll discuss how to market pro-environmental issues regardless of your constituency and how to operationalize this message.

To learn more about the Environmental Defense Fund, visit their website here. You can learn more about Environmental Defense Action Fund, and sign up for their new, free Campaign Academy here. If you have any questions about the campaign school or how to market environmental issues in your home district, you can email EDF at info@edfaction.org or reach Morgan directly at 202-572-3311.

Listeners, we want to hear from you! Are you an environmentalist ready to paint your district green? Are you a voter or a volunteer working to protect our environment? What did you think? What are some environmental issues you see in your district? Have you seen attacks against pro-environment candidates? Tell us your thoughts! Send your thoughts and suggestions to podcast@ElectionU.com or leave a note in the comment section below.

You can listen to the show right here on the EU website or by subscribing in iTunes, Apple Podcasts, GooglePlaySpotifyStitcherSoundcloudiHeartRadio, and more! If you do subscribe, please leave us a rating and review. We love the feedback and we read every one! If you'd like to hear a particular topic on our podcast, please email podcast@electionu.com. As always, thanks for listening!

Jason Bennett
Mar, 27 2018

Episode 13 - #MeToo on the Campaign Trail

Election University is partnering with The Purple Campaign to address the topic of sexual harassment on the campaign trail.

In the past year, high-profile sexual harassment allegations have unearthed what we already knew: that sexual harassment is pervasive and deeply entrenched in our culture. Unrestrained by traditional workplace structures, political campaigns are not immune from sexual harassment. The high-stress, short-term environment of campaigns perhaps makes misconduct even more prevalent. So, this week on the Election University podcast, our hosts Jason Bennett and Reiny Cohen unpack this challenging issue and add political voices to the #MeToo movement.

Our hosts speak with guest Jessica Patterson of the Purple Campaign to define sexual harassment, hear potential policy solutions, and brainstorm campaign policies and resources to prevent sexual harassment on the campaign trail. Jessica Patterson and Ally Coll Steele formed the Purple Campaign in January of 2018 to educate, elect, and mobilize folks against sexual harassment. In the short months since their launch, the Purple Campaign been endorsed by legislators, business executives, musicians, and advocacy organizations. They have lead education campaigns on social media and mobilized members of Congress to wear black at the 2018 State of the Union.  

In an effort to help campaigns set a standard of behavior on the campaign trail, we've asked the smart attorneys at The Purple Campaign to create templates that campaigns can use. We are releasing two starter templates for campaigns: a sample Code of Conduct and a sample Campaign Agreement

You can learn more about the Purple Campaign and sign up for email updates on their website, www.purplecampaign.org. You can get involved by joining the Purple Campaign’s Founder’s Circle with a donation, or participating in one of their three councils of experts. You can also follow along with the campaign on Facebook, twitter, or Instagram. To learn more about being an ally, identify resources available to you as a target, or learn more about sexual harassment and reporting in general, visit BetterBrave.com.

To learn more about sexual harassment, sexual assault, and reporting procedures, visit RAINN.org. If you have experienced sexual harassment or assault and need help identifying your resources and options, you can reach the 24/7, confidential National Sexual Assault Hotline for free at 800.656.HOPE or chat online now at rainn.org. You can also file a claim of harassment, employment discrimination or retaliation, and get more information at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), here.

We know this was a challenging episode. We know that we barely scratched the surface of this systemic social issue. And we know that one podcast will not undo decades of sexism and hostile work environments. But we hope that this episode helps you and your campaign take one step towards progress. So listeners, we want to hear your voices on this issue! Let us know what you think, how you’re responding to the #MeToo movement, and what else you think we can do to make progress on this issue.

Click here to download your free sample templates!

Jason Bennett
Mar, 20 2018

Episode 12 - Running Blue in a Field of Red

With more than forty seats flipped since the Presidential election, it seems the Democratic wave is building. But if you are a liberal candidate in a deeply red district, how do you decide if you should grab your surfboard and ride the wave? And is a wave really enough to win in a conservative area? Our co-hosts Jason Bennett and Reiny Cohen dig into the logistics of "running blue in a field of red" to bring you the critical advice you need to decide, run, and win.

Our guest this week is Maria Weeg. A longtime political operative, Maria has served as Executive Director of the Democratic State Party in deeply red Idaho and Arizona. She shares what it takes to recruit and run good candidates in districts that lean conservative. Maria lends her pragmatic advice for authentic candidacy and navigating opposing constituencies within a district.

Maria currently works at Hilltop Public Solutions, a national public affairs firm with offices in D.C., Idaho, California, and beyond. She also works at Brushfire Strategies, a telephone voter contact firm. You can learn more about Maria and her work at Hilltop Public Solutions and Brushfire here. You can also find the memoir that Maria mentions about political spouses here: …And His Lovely Wife: A Memoir from the Woman Beside the Man by Connie Schultz.

Listeners, we want to hear from you! Are you a Democrat hoping to ride the blue wave? Are you a voter or a volunteer working to continue the blue momentum? What did you think? And folks on the opposite side of the aisle—we haven’t forgotten about you! What are your tactics to combat the tidal wade of Democratic support? Have you run red in a deeply blue state? What was your experience there? Tell us your thoughts! Send your thoughts and suggestions to podcast@ElectionU.com or leave a note in the comment section below.

You can listen to the show right here on the EU website or by subscribing in iTunes, Apple Podcasts, GooglePlaySpotifyStitcherSoundcloudiHeartRadio, and more! If you do subscribe, please leave us a rating and review. We love the feedback and we read every one! If you'd like to hear a particular topic on our podcast, please email podcast@electionu.com. As always, thanks for listening!

Jason Bennett
Mar, 13 2018

Episode 11 - Campaign Tools Review: VoterCircle

Running a campaign is hard. Running a $4,000 campaign against opposition that's funded to the tune of $120,000 is even harder! Our hosts talk with VoterCircle CEO and Los Altos School Board Member Sangeeth Peruri about his own campaign and how it inspired this new campaign tool, called VoterCircle.   Today on the Election University podcast, our hosts Jason Bennett and Reiny Cohen launch a new segment in which they introduce and evaluate cutting edge campaign tools. In this episode of Campaign Tools Review, they explore the innovative voter contact solution VoterCircle. VoterCircle is a relational organizing platform that enables your supporters to spread the word in their networks from the comfort of their own home. VoterCircle boasts increased turnout rates of 5-10 points or more, and email open rates of 40-60%.   

The free version of VoterCircle allows you to operate with a voter file up to 200,000 voters, utilize a summary dashboard and distributed organizing, though it does not offer NGP Van Integration, reporting, or SuperInfluencer finder. Paid plans start at $150/ month. You can compare the different capabilities of VoterCircle platforms here.   VoterCircle is actively refining their platform. A mobile app and texting capabilities will soon be available. To keep up with their ever-advancing resources, you can sign up for their newsletter here. To read about more capabilities, review case studies, and sign up, visit VoterCircle.com. You can also request more information about the platform, or contact Sangeeth directly at Sang@votercircle.com. And as promised, you can view Sangeeth’s American Ninja Warrior application videos below. American Ninja Warrior Season 6 Application video (2014) American Ninja Warrior Season 7 Application video (2015)

Listeners, we want to hear from you! Have you used VoterCircle on your campaign? What did you think? What would you like to see added or improved on the VoterCircle platform? What campaign tool should we evaluate next? And, we must know… are you also an elected official who has applied for American Ninja Warrior? Send your thoughts and suggestions to podcast@ElectionU.com or leave a note in the comment section below.

You can listen to the show right here on the EU website or by subscribing in iTunes, Apple Podcasts, GooglePlaySpotifyStitcherSoundcloudiHeartRadio, and more! If you do subscribe, please leave us a rating and review. We love the feedback and we read every one! If you'd like to hear a particular topic on our podcast, please email podcast@electionu.com. As always, thanks for listening!

Jason Bennett
Mar, 06 2018

Episode 10 - Politics for Introverts

Having real and meaningful conversation seems impossible these days. From the climate to football, nearly every topic feels tense and politically charged. Family dinners and holidays are dreaded because of the inevitable argument. It is difficult to have a polite discussion, let alone a productive one. So, as a candidate, the task of conversing with and persuading hundreds of opinioned voters is daunting. But, have no fear! On this episode of the Election University podcast, our hosts Jason Bennett and Reiny Cohen discuss Politics for Introverts. They interview Celeste Headlee, former NPR-The Takeaway host, author of We Need to Talk, and speaker in “10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation,” one of the most watched Ted Talks of 2016. Celeste offers her advice on how to better converse, persuade, and network with all sorts of folks—even when you don’t agree. Her pragmatic tips are great for introverts and extroverts alike! Tune in!

Looking for more tips on having great conservations? Check out Celeste’s websiteorder her new book, or watch her original Ted Talk, 10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation.

So listeners—let’s talk! What do you think about this advice? Have you tried implementing Celeste’s tips? Do you have another one to add? We want to hear about your conversation successes and blunders. Leave a note in the comment section below or email your questions and comments to our hosts at podcast@ElectionU.com.

You can listen to the show right here on the website or by subscribing in iTunes, Apple Podcasts, GooglePlaySpotifyStitcherSoundcloudiHeartRadio, and more! If you do subscribe, please leave us a rating and review. We love the feedback and we read every one! If you'd like to hear a particular topic on our podcast, please email podcast@electionu.com. As always, thanks for listening! 

Jason Bennett
Feb, 27 2018

Episode 9 - A Starter's Guide to Doing Video on a Budget

Every campaign season, political ads saturate the airwaves. Though they may make Jeopardy-watchers and Hulu-streamers groan, video advertisements are pervasive and effective. TV and digital ads capture the attention of thousands of potential voters and just might make the difference in your campaign. But if you are on a very limited budget, how much should you really spend on digital, TV, or mail? Should you invest in professional video services or simply enlist your nephew and his iPhone?

Before you get filming, listen to our Election University Podcast advice on how to make the most of video on a budget. In this episode, our hosts Jason Bennett and Reiny Cohen interview video guru John Rowley. John operates CounterPoint Messaging, a strategy and digital consulting firm with a win rate of over 87% for Progressive campaigns. With about 30 years and hundreds of successful campaigns under his belt, John shares his tips for storytelling, producing quality DIY campaign videos, and buying ads.

Ready to get started? Get some inspiration for your next campaign video by checking out some of John’s work with CounterPoint. For good examples of storytelling, watch the campaign videos of Randy Bryce-WI-1 (“Iron Stache”) , Amy McGrath- KY-6 (“woman in the airforce”), and Suneel Gupta- MI-11.

Listeners! We want to hear from you! Are you ready to delve into digital? What’s your strategy to create video content for your campaign? Do you have a favorite campaign ad or video shooting tip you’d like to share with our listeners? Leave a note in the comment section below or email your questions and comments to our hosts at podcast@ElectionU.com.

You can listen to the show right here on the website or by subscribing in iTunes, Apple Podcasts, GooglePlaySpotify, StitcherSoundcloudiHeartRadio, and more! If you do subscribe, please leave us a rating and review. We love the feedback and we read every one! If you'd like to hear a particular topic on our podcast, please email podcast@electionu.com. Thanks for listening!

Jason Bennett
Feb, 20 2018