What’s changing about political campaigns? Lots, and not just because of Donald Trump. With no campaigns currently underway, Valley Politics has been contemplating how campaigns are changing at the local level with recently-elected Councilmember Sergio Jimenez in our March episode and with nationally-renowned political consultant Joe Trippi—who got his start in San Jose—in our May episode.
What really came through in both conversations is that for both local and national campaigns the key to success is making a personal connection—and the increasing role of social media.
Sergio Jimenez, running in San Jose Council District 2 (Edenvale) last year, was subject to vicious direct mail attacks by the Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee. How did he survive these multiple hits? Sergio responded directly through social media, but also attributes his victory to the personal connection he made with voters by campaigning door-to-door—the old fashioned way.
Watch the March episode featuring Sergio Jimenez
That’s also how Joe Trippi got his start in campaigns—volunteering for San Jose city council candidates back in the 1970s and learning door-to-door campaigning and targeting. He went on to work for presidential campaigns beginning with Ted Kennedy in 1980 and culminating in the astonishing rise of Howard Dean in 2004. It was in the Dean campaign that Trippi pioneered social media connections to voters and broke all records for fundraising from small contributors—a record later broken by Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders.
Joe tells us in our May show that the personal connections social media bring are key to current and future campaigns, not only for fundraising but also for voter engagement and turnout. In fact, he notes that campaigns that use social media only for fundraising (like Hillary Clinton’s?) are doomed to fail. He cites Donald Trump’s tweets—much ridiculed by the “fake” media—as giving him a deep connection to voters, noting that even the voters who don’t tweet get the message through the media and react to it as genuine, direct, even personal communication. And the tweets were about issues, not fundraising.
You’ll also want to hear what Joe has to say about celebrity candidates and why campaigns will never be the same after 2016. We also recommend Joe’s book, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.
Watch the May episode featuring Joe Trippi
–Terry Christensen, Professor Emeritus San Jose State University and Host and Co-producer of Valley Politics