Campaigns are moving quickly to adjust their approach to wooing voters and raising money after the global Coronavirus pandemic required stopping in-person events like rallies and fundraisers.
Nicole Schlinger of CampaignHQ, based in Brooklyn, Iowa, does fundraising for clients all over the country. She says that while the Coronavirus pandemic has changed how campaigns operate, they don’t need to close up shop. “There are a lot of options out there to stay in touch with the grassroots and donor community to keep the conversation going.”
“I would say the most popular thing campaigns are doing right now are tele-town halls. They provide the opportunity to talk to a large number of individuals at once while still being able to take questions and engage folks all while keeping everyone safe,” said Schlinger.
She has found that with fewer things happening outside of their home, another approach that her clients are finding success with is using peer to peer text messaging.
Last but not least, phone calls. Nicole shared that “Candidates are also doing a lot more scheduled calls. People are traveling less, and there’s more time in their schedule to make these happen.”
Schlinger says that she was initially hesitant about advising her candidates to continue fundraising, however, after monitoring the current environment over several days, she realized that campaigns need to stay engaged rather than go into hibernation.
“They [Campaigns & Candidates] need to be sensitive to the situation, but they should be engaged. People are at home, and they’re following the situation closely. Voters want to be involved. They do not want to be shut out” said Schlinger.
Not everyone seems to be following that guidance. Cindy Axne’s campaign sent out on Wednesday. The email attacks Axne’s opponent and says:
“We can’t afford to let our far-right opponent, David Young, get to Congress. If you agree, donate $10 right now:”
When asked for a comment Young’s campaign responded to the email by saying,
“We know a lot of people out there are suffering, and many are scared about making ends meet. It’s unfortunate Cindy Axne continues to mislead and level false attacks during these uncertain times. David has instructed the campaign to cancel or postpone any event which could potentially compromise the health and safety of anyone in the Third District. We have shifted much of our effort online. We are working hard to keep the lines of communication open and respond to the feedback and concerns of voters in this difficult time,” Andy Swanson, Young for Iowa, Campaign Manager.
For federal candidates the first quarter fundrasing deadline is March 31st and reports must be filed with the FEC by the 15th of April.