I’ve Texted Thousands of Voters in Swing States
I’m not normally hyper-political. I vote, but I don’t knock on doors. I’ve never been to a protest, and I don’t make angry calls to Congress. But recently, I realized that I had to be more involved if we want democracy to survive this bruising year, so I signed up to text voters for the DNC’s coordinated campaign.
You might expect that, texting random strangers in these tense times, you’d get a lot of abuse. And true to that expectation, one of my first text exchanges began this way:
Me: Hi, I’m Addie, volunteering with the Ohio Democrats. Is this Barry*?
B: Go f*** yourself how do you like that???
But you might also assume that a conversation that starts this way can continue in only one direction: vitriol and mutual disgust. But there, you’d be absolutely wrong.
Let’s back up: here’s what it’s like to text for the DNC
The DNC’s text team is a well-run operation. You just sign up here and take a short webinar on how to use their texting technology (you text through a computer program, not your phone, which makes it a lot easier to respond quickly and meaningfully to voters). The campaign has scripts for common questions, so you’re not totally on your own, but you’re encouraged to be real and use your personal stories to connect with voters. There’s only one real rule: always be respectful and positive, no matter how the voter treats you.
Your assignments range from reaching out to potential volunteers to texting random folks on voter rolls to see if their number is correct. You communicate with the team via the campaign’s Slack channel where, contrary to popular belief, people don’t actually talk about Trump that much—they’re mostly feeling inspired by enthusiastic supporters and celebrating the wins of connecting with undecided voters.
Of course, most people ignore your texts, and those who respond are often just doing so to tell you that you have the wrong number. (I get that—I’m volunteering for the DNC, and I still don’t respond to all the messages I get from them.) But for the ones who do talk with you, the conversations are fascinating.