Staying Engaged in an Off-Year - National Democratic Training Committee

In order to stay engaged this off-year, we must take stock of what Democrats have recently accomplished. For instance, in November 2020, the Democratic party managed to hold the House of Representatives, as well as capture the Senate and the Presidency. We elected leaders at the federal, state, and local level who advocate for and improve the lives of their constituents.  

These incredible results were made possible by candidates, campaign staff, and local leaders who spent years improving their communities. They were also made possible by young voters paying attention to politics, some for the first time. Others were inspired to act due to the high stakes of the 2020 election.

With this in mind, take time to debrief your campaign, as it will help you learn valuable lessons from the last election season. Practice self-care; mental health is hugely important following a grueling campaign season.

However, as we enter the new year, we must also remember to not take our foot off the gas. We must embrace this off-year as a year to build and maintain relationships. It’s imperative to keep first-time voters engaged, while developing party infrastructure at the state and local level. 

How can we do this? Whether you are a candidate, campaign staffer, local leader, or simply a dutiful citizen, here’s how to build a network and stay engaged in an off-year.


Take time to reevaluate what you hope to achieve in your political career. Think about what offices you may be interested in running for in the future. If you aren’t sure which office to pursue, the course So You Think You Want to Run can help. 

Once you determine your goals for the coming years, identify the connections you will need before you run.  Attend events with local leaders, and form relationships with potential campaign donors. Now is a great time to create the network you’ll need come campaign season. Consider taking the NDTC course: Building Your Network: Donors, Volunteers, & Validators to learn more. 

Additionally, even if you are not campaigning right now, you must find ways to stay relevant in your community. Increasing name recognition can be vital when voters eventually see your name on the ballot. Attend community events and interact with constituents. Continue building relationships with local media. And, be sure to maintain an active social media presence. These are just some of the ways you can keep your name in local political circles.

Campaign Staff

After working so hard to elect Democrats in November, the new year may seem like an unsettling time. Staffers across the country are looking for new roles on new campaigns and with progressive organizations..

Don’t fret! Elections take place each year all over the country. If you live in states holding elections, this year provides an opportunity to form connections and elect Democrats. 

That’s not all. In many big cities, including New York, Atlanta, Boston, and Seattle, mayoral and city council elections happen in off-years. Help elect Democrats in your community. 

You may be asking, how do I get involved in these campaigns? If you are just starting a career in Democratic politics, NDTC can help! Take the course “Finding a Job in Democratic Politics”, which walks through the process of finding campaign work locally. For more resources on where to look, check out our blog that lists job boards and other essential resources.

Local Leaders

It is imperative Democrats harness the momentum from the previous year, and use it to energize the base for the future. Local precinct leaders and organizers play a massive role in this objective. An off-year is a time to keep supporters engaged and build long-term Democratic infrastructure in your community. 

How do you position your local Democratic party for success? Relational organizing is critical for increasing voter turnout and general support. Hosting events for members of your local party can keep supporters active, and allows local politicians to meet constituents. In addition, be sure to maintain an active social media presence. Post on your profiles, and encourage supporters to as well. Your goal is to escalate supporters on the ladder of engagement, turning voters and supporters into ambassadors and stewards of your message. For more information on organizing, consider taking the “Relational Organizing 101” course.

As you build out organizing programs, remember to continuously bring voters and organizers of color into your world. Democrats need to uplift these voices, especially in battleground states. Voters of color have been discounted for too long in the political arena. On principle, Democratic campaigns and organizations cannot afford to wait until it’s time to vote to talk to these voters. However, with your help, we can make the party truly representative of all its members.   

Active Citizens

An active citizen can be anyone—first-time voters, first-time donors, social media advocates, and volunteers. Regardless of how you were involved, thank you for your hard work! That work was paramount to electing Democrats at every level of government.

But now is not the time to rest if we want to progress change across the nation. There are a number of actions you can take in your community in the coming weeks and months to stay engaged this off-year. Pay attention to the news. Hold your elected officials accountable for promises made on the campaign trail. Volunteer with your local Democratic party by hosting events, helping with digital organizing, or knocking on doors. 

If you are able, donate to local candidates to elect Democrats in your community. In fact, donations to state and local candidates are often far more valuable than donations in presidential or federal elections. 

Lastly, don’t forget to follow your favorite Democratic politicians on social media, as well as NDTC on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn!


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