Phone Banking for Equality in Minnesota
January 23, 2012 by Guest contributor
The following post comes from Leah Solo, Coalitions Committee Chair, Minnesotans United for All Families:
I surprised myself last night with a new discovery – I like phone banking with Minnesotans United for All Families and HRC!
Give me data to enter, emails to send, events to organize, research to do, groups to reach out to, or money to raise, but do NOT make me pick up the phone and call voters. Seriously, I will do anything to avoid phone banking. That being said, when we started talking about what direct voter contact was going to look like in Minnesota, it was clear to me that these would not be your typical political calls. In fact, it seemed like they might actually be kind of exciting.
Last night, Twin Cities HRC explored just how different and exciting these phone calls can be at our first HRC Night of Calling at the Minnesotans United for All Families campaign.
Minnesotans United for All Families, the campaign to defeat the anti-marriage amendment, is now in its second week of direct voter contact, and HRC was the first organization to sponsor a phone calling night. Local volunteer coordinator Steve Pospisil recruited and confirmed our volunteers for the night. He even came to a phone bank in advance so that he could be the ultimate volunteer leader.
Despite frigid temperatures, 24 people showed up for the phone bank, 8 of them from Twin Cities HRC.
Given the unusual nature of these conversations, all first time callers went through 90 minutes of training, including models of different types of conversations, a practice with a partner, and time to ask questions. By the end of the training, we felt ready to go.
The first number I dialed was an answering machine. The second number, the voter I was looking for answered the phone. When I asked if she thought gay and lesbian couples should get full marriage benefits, her answer was a resounding yes. My anxiety melted away and I burned through another 32 dials.
With each call, my confidence grew. I found traction talking to undecided voters. I was inspired by supporters that I talked to. And I was motivated by opposition who softened during our 5 minute chat. I caught snippets of other conversations volunteers were having and gave a few high fives. The energy in the room was palpable.
At 9pm, we all ended our calls and came back together for a small debrief. Some people expressed feeling empowered at having heard some voters move. Others needed to talk about the more bumpy conversations. But with the support of our team we could get through the negative, and focus on all of the positive conversations and movement.
As we got the tally for the night, hundreds of conversations were had – and we learned that some voters had moved! Maybe they didn’t move a lot, but they responded to our questions by rethinking their feelings about the amendment.
Just as important, almost everyone committed to coming back and phone calling again, including me. With volunteers like these, there is no telling how far our campaign can reach!
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