March 13, 2020

By Kelly Dietrich

Let’s talk reality. Whether you realize it or not, COVID-19 is already affecting your race. Fewer volunteers, event cancellations, and more are challenging campaigns across the country.

But every challenge brings an opportunity.

At NDTC we’re here and ready to support you.

We’re developing new online courses, planning additional webinars to answer questions, and crafting resources to help Democrats continue the work needed to win.

Your first and most paramount concern should be for the health and safety of your staff, family, and community. If your inbox isn’t already overloaded with guides on how to stay safe, here’s the WHO recommendations.

Even with the outbreak Election Day isn’t changing. You still have limited time, money and people to meet your goals.

So what are some of the changes you need to make for your campaign right now?

The easiest way to say it:

Go Digital. 

Volunteers and Voter Contact

At present we advise campaigns NOT to knock doors for the next several weeks.

That’s right. Do not go door-to-door.

In fact, we recommend not bringing volunteers into the office. Let them work remotely.

Get them on the phones. Have them text. Have them interact on Facebook.

Yes, this can be a challenge. Yes, this is new. No, it is not impossible. It is an opportunity.

The health risks far outweigh the benefits and you risk alienating and angering voters who may not want anyone ringing their doorbell during this crisis.

Check out our digital messaging courses on:

Texting, Using Social Media and Understanding Email Strategy for more on best practices.


People are not going to attend fundraising events for the foreseeable future. Hopefully, this is a matter of weeks, but it may be longer.

Instead of canceling your in-person events, schedule virtual events using Zoom, Google Hangouts, or another video conferencing app.

Make it fun and encourage people to share their experiences and talk about the ways your campaign is dedicated to keeping up the fight…online…and how much financial support matters when doing digital advertising.

Digital fundraising via email and social media will also be more important than ever. Yes,  it takes time to scale up, but you need to start now.

Of course, as always, call time remains your best option. You can learn more about call time HERE and how to make an effective fundraising ask HERE.

Turnout and Vote Goal Calculations

It is way too early to tell if and how Coronavirus will affect turnout. Right now, your campaign should still move forward with your existing turnout calculations which should drive your whole campaign plan.

(Don’t know your vote goal? We have a course for that.) Learn how to calculate your vote goal.


Don’t shy away from Coronavirus. This is an opportunity for Democrats to bring healthcare policy to the forefront. How will you and your campaign make a difference in the life of this voter?

Remember to make it personal. Don’t talk stats and policy. Talk about your family and loved ones. Talk about how it affects their family and loved ones. Relate and empathize.

Use your Story of Self.

Would you advocate for paid time off for workers? Would you advocate for free testing for the virus?

These are just suggestions. Take the framework in our Story of Self course and apply it to the issues that matter to your voters.

Above all, remember people want leadership and they want to help – especially in challenging times like this.

Use the challenge to motivate supporters and donors to help your campaign.

Campaigning During Coronavirus

If you have questions or suggestions, please share them with us. We want to hear them. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, or email us at [email protected].

This is going to be a challenging time for our country and our families. But together, we can not only take care of each other, but make the world a little better place – and elect more Democrats!

There’s more to come, but remember we have a whole free Online Academy with 69+ courses available to help you win your race.

Kelly is the Founder and CEO of the National Democratic Training Committee.

He has worked on dozens of campaigns at every level across the country. Kelly's specialty is in new campaign creation, candidate and staff training, and fundraising.

In addition to working for 18+ years in Democratic politics, he teaches a class on political campaigns at DePaul University in Chicago, where he lives with his family and dog, a large hungry blue Weimaraner named Jack Bauer. Kelly started his career in 1998 with Rep. Dennis Moore in KS-03. He's an avid basketball and poker player, though never at the same time. His wife would point out that at no time in this biography was he described as "good" at either hobby. That was a conscious decision.