Hillary: “I don’t know who created Pokemon Go but I’m trying to figure out how we get them to Pokemon Go to the polls!!” -crowd cheers-
— Betsy Woodruff (@woodruffbets) July 14, 2016
Say this for the HRC campaign, they’re quick. Thanks to commentor Matt McIrvine for news of this Vox explainer:
… So campaign organizers for Clinton, like her Ohio organizing director Jennifer Friedmann, started showing up at PokéStops and gyms to register Pokémon Go players to vote:
— Jennifer Friedmann (@friedmannj) July 12, 2016
The Cincinnati Enquirer‘s Mallorie Sullivan reports that Clinton’s Ohio staff spent the past weekend going “from Cuyahoga to Athens to seek out players in their communities to register them to vote.”
There’s even an official Hillary event scheduled in Lakewood, Ohio, pegged to the game. “Join us as we go to the Pokestop in Madison Park and put up a lure module, get free pokemon, & battle each other while you register voters and learn more about Sec. Hillary Clinton!!!” the event description says. “Kids welcome!”…
The Clinton campaign’s eagerness to use an app to organize the same week it comes out is also an indication of the importance of on-the-ground field organizing. This sort of thing only works if you have field staffers on the ground to organize it, and who can do so without reducing the campaign’s ability to canvass, phone-bank, and engage in the other routine, necessary field activities. And Clinton had almost 700 people on staff already as of May’s Federal Election Commission filing.
Trump, by contrast, has only 70, many of them national staff. He’s at a big, big disadvantage when it comes to field work. It’s not just Pokémon Go: Trump’s staffing disadvantage means less contact with voters, and less registration, through any number of mechanisms. And at least when it comes to registration drives and get-out-the-vote operations, there’s good experimental research showing that well-done canvassing really does work….
Hopefully, even if the Pokemon Go craze is ephemeral, the players’ memories will last a little longer. Six years from now, I’d rather be soliciting new voters for the party they remember from that fun afternoon swapping characters than the party of that weird orange dude their parents kept screaming about.