The Warren Machine
MARSHALLTOWN, IOWA – Last weekend, the Warren campaign held an event at Fischer Elementary School. People eager to see Senator Elizabeth Warren packed into the school gymnasium. The number of people was impressive on its own. Thirty minutes before the event was scheduled to start, there was only standing room, and people were still entering the room. However, by the end of the event, what stood out the most were the volunteers for the Warren campaign.
Walking into the event, the first thing they asked you to do was to sign in. This isn’t unusual for any event but what was noteworthy was the number of volunteers they assigned to this task. There were at least seven volunteers stationed at the entrance I used. This job is typically only assigned to a few people. Walking farther past the building, the campaign had more people directing attendees to the gym. Once again, while this is a common task, the Warren campaign had more volunteers dedicated to this job than most campaigns at other events that I have attended. This was already leaving an impression in my mind that Warren had quantity when it came to volunteers.
My next interaction with Warren volunteers came after Sen. Warren was done taking questions. People started to line up for the famous Warren selfie-lines. The line started as more of a clump of eager Iowans waiting to get a chance with the senator. The volunteers worked hard to make the clump become an actual line by directing people into other rooms to wait for their turn.
During this process, other volunteers walked up and down the line with volunteer sign-ups, commit to caucus cards, and other important information for voters. This was not a quick process. You could see volunteers all the way up and down the line. If you said no to one, there was another volunteer upon you in about a minute. Saying no also wasn’t an easy task. The volunteers had been trained well to push for a “yes.” They were equipped with scripted answers and would often try to engage you in conversation about what you did like about Warren in order to wear people down. While some people may feel that the Warren campaign can turn people away by being too “pushy,” I believe this will pay dividends in the long run for Sen. Warren. It’s too early for me to claim that the Warren campaign has quality volunteers, however, I am convinced that Warren has well-trained individuals who are dedicated to the cause. The organizational skills of the Warren campaign are evident.
Organization is an important part of any campaign and the ground wars are especially important to the Iowa caucuses where retail politics still prevail. I also think it will be important at the caucuses themselves. Because Iowa doesn’t have a primary, conversation and classic debate skills can turn undecided Iowans into Warren supporters the night of the caucus. From what I saw, Warren has large groups of dedicated supporters who are willing to fight for every last delegate.