A Changing Vision For Campaign Curriculum - TrainDems

Over the last quarter of 2020, the Curriculum Team at NDTC made an update to its sample candidate, Nicole Strong. Nicole’s fictional campaign is an important learning tool throughout the Online Academy and Staff Academy’s campaign curriculum. 

For instance, in the course Creating Calls to Action, learners demonstrate their ability to convince audiences to act. In Political Campaign Messaging Basics, trainees practice crafting narratives to reach voters for Nicole’s campaign. 

By simulating real-life scenarios, trainees apply what they’ve learned to gain a better understanding of campaign work.

As NDTC continues to grow and build partnerships with other organizations, the number of successful campaigns continues to grow. Out of 1,292 candidates, 361 ran effective campaigns and won their races in the 2020 Election Cycle.

This means more candidates representing communities across America in County Commissions, State Legislatures, and even US Congress. These Democrats run in diverse and family-oriented districts, sometimes challenging incumbents in long-held positions. 

Reflecting this shift in audience, the Curriculum Team identified a new district for Nicole to run her race.

The District

Previously, Nicole was based in a State House district in Louisville, Kentucky. The district skewed white by 80%. Residents were older compared to other districts in Kentucky. Additionally, despite a strong showing in 2018, the district has consistently trended more conservative. 

In determining the new district Nicole Strong will represent, we looked at three criteria for our campaign curriculum: 

  • District Competitiveness 
  • Greater diversity, both by race and socioeconomic status
  • A preference for a location in a battleground state

Research showed the Georgia House of Representatives District 48, located in the northern suburbs of Atlanta was the best choice. This part of Fulton County shows tremendous growth and is home to Fortune 500 Companies including UPS and Intercontinental Exchange.

While certainly more competitive and diverse than the previous district, it was the compelling narrative of a first-time candidate that drew us to Georgia.


Inspiring Democrats to Run for Office 

The Georgia 48th is the exact type of district Democrats should be competing in nationwide. In 2014, Republican Harry Geisinger won this district by 64% over his Democratic challenger. Two years later in 2016, newly appointed Republican Representative Betty Price went unchallenged in a tough year for Democrats nationwide. Yet, in 2018, a healthcare advocate named Mary Robichaux stepped up to challenge her Republican representative. 

Mary’s campaign barnstormed the district—knocking on doors, holding meet and greets, and sponsoring community service events. They did this while sharing a simple message: protect the Affordable Care Act, expand Medicaid, and create better-paying jobs. Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock used a similar message in the 2021 Senate runoffs.

On November 6th, 2018, in a district once represented in the US Congress by Newt Gingrich, Mary Robichaux was elected to the Georgia State House by a margin of 150 votes. Two years later, Representative Robichaux was re-elected by over 1,200 votes.

Refreshing Campaign Curriculum Materials

Over the last few months, the Curriculum Team has updated references throughout the teaching materials to reflect Nicole’s new district. This is an ongoing process with an expected completion date at the end of Q2 of 2021. Our campaign curriculum aims to serve Democrats with the tools, resources, and instruction proven to win. This seemingly simple change in Nicole Strong’s district equips potential candidates, so they can become the next generation of elected officials. 

Meet Nicole strong 

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Matt Burke

Matt Burke is an Instructional Designer at the National Democratic Training Committee based in North Carolina. Prior to joining NDTC, Matt worked as a Lead Coach for Organizing Corps 2020: a program of the DNC designed to train 1,000 Field Organizers for the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee. His political experience includes working as a Field operative for several Democratic candidates, including former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, Senator Chris Murphy, Senator-elect Jon Ossoff, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. While initially focused on organizing in rural communities, Matt has worked in a variety of turfs, from college campuses to the Atlanta suburbs to rural northeastern Oklahoma. In his free time, Matt enjoys fishing and falling asleep while deer hunting, usually while listening to the Grateful Dead.