Welcome to The Sweep

Welcome to The Sweep—our latest Dispatch newsletter that will cover the 100 days remaining of Election 2020. For those who are curious, the title comes from this piece in which I argued that: 

Curling is the perfect analogy for political campaigns. The underlying dynamics of an election cycle (the economy, the popularity of the president, national events driving the news cycle) are like the 44-pound “stone” hurtling toward the (please hold while I google what the, you know, bullseye thing is called) … “house.” Once the stone is moving, this thing is heavy and it’s got momentum that is out of the “skip’s” control. The campaign staff are like the guys with the brooms that are frantically sweeping the ice as this 44-pound rock slides along the ice.

Well, since I wrote that I’ve been credibly informed (by no less than the coach of the gold medal-winning U.S. men’s curling team) that sweepers can actually make quite a sizable difference but that this was nevertheless a “pretty good analogy.” 

With that ringing endorsement, I pitched our Dispatch overlords (re: Steve) on a campaign newsletter that will focus on the strategy and mechanics of political campaigns with some behind the scenes flavor along the way. How do VPs get vetted, what are voter scores (and what’s yours), what does it feel like backstage at a presidential debate?

My first campaign was John Cornyn’s 2002 Senate race. I spent most of my time licking stamps (remember when that was still a thing?) and cutting out news clips (also used to be a thing). But I also got to watch our communications director spar with reporters, organize volunteers for a letters-to-the-editor campaign, and hear our policy director—now Rep. Chip Roy—pontificate on conservatism. I fell in love with the pace, the camaraderie, and the feeling like I was contributing to something larger than myself. Since those heady days of fax machines and landlines, I’ve worked on three presidential campaigns and any number of down-ballot races. And within campaigns, I’ve bounced from the legal team to opposition research to communications. 

I want you to leave each week feeling like you know what is going on behind the scenes in these campaigns and the kinds of factors that go into the big decisions. But I won’t be the only voice you hear from. We’ll include reporting from others in our Dispatch family like Andrew Eggers who writes great pieces like this and even Steve whenever he finds a rabbit to go chase. And, most importantly, I want to answer your questions. 

This first edition of the newsletter is going out to our entire Dispatch audience, or you can read it here. Future Monday editions will be posted online for everyone to read and share. To receive it as an emailed newsletter, however, you’ll need to opt-in here. Any “bonus” editions will be sent to our paid members. If you haven’t joined yet, you can do so here.

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