Run your own personal campaign for Bernie Sanders

If I could get one idea through with this essay it’s an idea about mindset- think of yourself as running a campaign for Bernie localised to your friends and relatives. Approach it with both discipline and initiative, just like you would if Bernie made you a county organiser. Exactly what tactics and strategies are best will vary for each person but I want to give some broad hints about what such a campaign might look like.

Targeted persuasion: plan your strategy and identify your targets

The most important aspect of your campaign should be narrow-spectrum persuasion- targeting individuals.

Create a spreadsheet with a list of the people you want to reach. Include brief notes about how persuadable you think they are, and what strategies and contact methods could work. Work through that spreadsheet.

In planning your strategies, generally speaking, more personal and intimate communication = better. A text is better than a general Facebook status, a call is better than a text, a meeting in person is better than a call. However, this must be balanced against your time commitments. You probably know far more people than you can plausibly meet up with in person before the vote. Triage this on the basis

A brief point on flipping

It’s worth remembering in planning your priorities that it’s twice as good to flip a supporter of another candidate into voting Bernie than it is get someone who otherwise wouldn’t have voted to vote Bernie. This is because flipping not only gets a vote for Bernie, it removes a vote from someone else. HOWEVER this is of limited relevance in practice because people are usually much easier to persuade if they don’t already have a preferred candidate.

Broad-spectrum persuasion

In addition to speeching with individuals, it is very important to engage in “broad spectrum” persuasion, where you let your acquaintances, friends and family know that you’re supporting Bernie en masse. This is because of the way people work- just knowing that a trusted person believes something makes that thing much more plausible, even if only unconsciously.

Options include shirts, yard signs etc.

Think of yourself as publicly endorsing Bernie Sanders. While your endorsement may matter less than a celebrity or politician’s endorsement overall, it probably matters more to your family and friends.


One extremely important form of broad-spectrum persuasion is Facebook and Facebook statuses. It has a huge reach, and you can be much more detailed than with other forms of broad-spectrum persuasion.

A lot of Bernie supporters are too young and/or hip to make a lot of use of Facebook. There are a lot of salt of the earth types on Facebook who are exactly the people we need to reach. The big advantage of Facebook over other social media is that you have a guaranteed in, even if it’s only very small, with everyone on your friend’s list.

So go on Facebook and writeup a heartfelt status about why people should support Bernie. Combine reason, passion and ethical values, often with a dollop of personal experiences, and you can’t go too far wrong.

In addition to making a status update you might want to use the Bernie endorsement maker here:

Principles of persausion

I’ve previously written a guide to persuading people of things here:


Don’t just campaign for Bernie, campaign for your friends to campaign for Bernie (if that makes sense). Talk people into wearing shirts, into making their own spreadsheets of who to target. Maybe even send them a link to this essay.

Don’t Pokemon Go to the polls alone

On the day of the vote itself, try not to go to the polls alone. Bring a group of friends and/or family with you. Particularly target people you think might flake out of voting.

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