Twenty Siena political science students spent a week in an unseasonably warm New Hampshire getting a taste of grassroots campaigning in advance of the Granite State’s upcoming presidential primary.
They’re taking the Presidential Nominating Campaigns class taught this semester by Jack Collens, Ph.D, assistant professor of political science. They were each embedded as volunteers with Democratic and Republican campaigns to learn firsthand how our nation chooses a president. They canvassed door-to-door to engage with voters, attended a “policy school,” conducted phone banking and did research at campaign offices. They also went to campaign town halls, toured ABC affiliate WMUR-TV and visited St. Anselm College's New Hampshire Institute of Politics.
Emma Willette ’23, Dana Wakeman ’21 and Christina Noeldechen ’21 all conducted phone banking for Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s campaign. They were given a script of what to say to each potential voter, then tracked how likely the voter would be to support Klobuchar. They also promoted upcoming campaign events.
Nick Desautels ’20 and Cristian Spariosu ’23 canvassed in Manchester for President Trump's re-election. They used an app called Advantage to see which doors to knock on, and to input the conversations they had with each voter. They also met with Trump’s regional campaign director.
Now that the students are back on campus and embedded in the classroom, they are learning in detail about the history and the process of electing a president.
Collens said that by the time the New York primaries roll around on April 28, the field of candidates will most likely have narrowed. Students will have another opportunity to volunteer locally to get even more experience.
“The public generally sees a presidential campaign as a big-money, well-oiled machine that is very much a national production. In reality, it’s all about the grassroots. It’s all about knocking on doors and phone banking, talking directly to voters. It’s very much boots on the ground and manpower driven.”
Jack Collens, Ph.D., assistant professor of political science
“Some people working on the Biden campaign are right out of undergrad and seeing the power our generation has in these groundbreaking campaigns is really inspiring for me and my future career ideas. This experience is important because you get to see all of the hard work on a campaign first hand.”
Natalie Valachovic '21
“I really enjoy the long conversations when I go door to door. The issues really matter to people and I love that type of engagement.”
Cristian Spariosu '23