Local Parties differ in campaign strategy as election approaches

Raghav Raj | Staff Writer

 As the 2020 election cycle nears the end, local political parties are keeping their eyes on the prize.

There’s less than a month to go until the polls close on November 3rd, and with a slate of vital races from White House down to the state House, both the Warren County Democratic and Republican party chapters are kicking their campaigning efforts into high gear, albeit in different ways.

At the Warren County Democratic Party (WCDP), adapting to the challenges presented by COVID-19 has been central to the campaign strategy for November, as WCDP chair Bethe Goldenfield explains. 

“[COVID-19] posed some challenges which we’ve done a pretty fantastic job of overcoming,” said Goldenfield. “When we saw that we weren’t going to be able to do in-person events, we regrouped pretty quickly. We began recruiting people to help handwrite person-to-person postcards — 45,000 of which we’ve sent out so far — that we’re mailing to turnout voters.”

In Goldenfield’s words, these “turnout voters” — who typically lean towards the Democratic party if they’re motivated to vote — “can make a huge difference, especially at the state and local level,” which is why reaching out to them has been central for the WCDP’s campaign strategy. 

As Goldenfield explains, some of these turnout voters the party is recruiting are on the younger end, which the WCDP has openly embraced. “Our party has gotten a lot of positive press throughout the state for our embrace of young people, for reaching out to them and putting them in positions of responsibility, authority, and leadership,” says Goldenfield. “We really want young people to have their voices heard, which is why we targeted a lot of younger voters with some of those postcards we sent out.”

Along with postcards, the 500+ active volunteers for the party have made thousands of phone calls, and the party is distributing campaign literature throughout the county with Democratic candidates to vote for down the ballot.

On the other side of the ideological spectrum, there’s the Warren County Republican Party, which has tried to maintain some in-person outreach with potential voters by going door-to-door canvassing and interacting with the voters directly. 

Julie Byrne, the Vice Chair of the Warren County GOP Executive Board, described the philosophy behind trying to campaign in-person even in the midst of a pandemic: “the only way you’re going to get people to think about issues when everyone’s so busy is by actually talking to people. So we have a very aggressive campaign effort that’s been ongoing over these past months where we’re trying to reach everyday voters in their homes and see what their concerns are, whether that means going door to door, or making calls.”

Like the WCDP, the

Warren County GOP is reaching out to potential voters by phone-banking (Byrne mentioned a volunteer who has single-handedly made over 90,000 phone calls for the party), and distributing campaign literature for down-ballot races to voters who lean conservative with the help of the Ohio Republican Party and the Republican National Convention. 

Also, like with the WCDP, many of these potential voters are young. The WCGOP has a Young Republicans club that meets regularly, as well as a large volunteer base of young people across the county aimed at getting their peers to vote for conservative candidates come November.

Byrne, a former College Republicans chair at the University of Dayton, knows the importance of reaching out to the next generation. “The youth effort is really important, especially in a place like Warren County where there’s so much young Republican leadership, because you can see actual elected officials who fit that demographic and lead by example,” she said. “We pride ourselves here in being very open to younger people joining us, helping us figure out how they can succeed and make Warren County even more incredible than it already is.”

While the Democrats in Warren County may be at odds ideologically with the WCGOP, they clearly agree on encouraging the youth to be more engaged with politics, whether through voting or through organizing, campaigning, and assuming leadership roles.

“We need young people getting involved, maybe even running in those future school board races and city council races so that the local decisions that impact us are not being made in an echo chamber,” says Goldenfield. “We’ve seen immense leadership from the younger generation, and we really want to be able to support them, encourage them to go out and be able to make a difference.”