Politicians are lining up again for low-tech campaigns – parades
State Representative Bobby Kaufmann R-Wilton greets spectators on Saturday at the Solon Beef Days Parade in Solon. Even in the age of social media, politicians still view parades as good opportunities to connect with voters. (Nick Rohlman / Independent)
Johnson County Supervisor Rod Sullivan shares a laugh with Johnson County Democratic Party Chairman Ed Cranston on Saturday during the Solon Beef Days Parade. (Nick Rohlman / Independent)
Taking advantage of technology and social media, political campaigns have become more sophisticated using digital interaction as a replacement for – or as a complement to – traditional in-person events.
It’s a no-brainer that it’s easier to tweet or message on social media than to walk for miles in the July heat – or worse, the rain. But this summer, as more parades, fairs and festivals emerge from the shadows of the pandemic, you’re likely to find officials and candidates taking an old-fashioned approach as they throw candy at children along parade routes and distribute flyers to their constituents. parents of age.
“It’s just a wonderful way for people to connect with communities and be a part of this community – if just for an afternoon or a morning,” said the former president of the Iowa House Linda Upmeyer of Clear Lake. As a speaker and now co-chair of the Iowa Republican Party, she tells candidates that parades give them “the opportunity to see people when they’re in a good mood and everyone’s having a fun day.”
In general, voters want to see people calling their votes, said State Representative Ross Wilburn, who has walked and cycled in parades as mayor of Iowa City, state legislator of ‘Ames and now president of the Iowa Democratic. Party.
Parades are a great way to “make real connections with voters, especially if you don’t have a lot of money or a lot of notoriety,” he said.
Building that connection with voters is important in rural Iowa communities, where there are few elected Democrats, said Wilburn, who has participated in several parades around the state this summer.
“It’s a great way for party leaders to meet with Iowans, to remind Iowans that Democrats are everywhere,” he said.
That’s because retail politics will always be important, according to Brett Dinkins, a consultant at Victory Enterprises, who advises Democratic and Republican candidates. The value of free exhibition cannot be understated, “and voters love to see their elected officials and candidates in action and interact with the public.”
State Representative Bobby Kaufmann R-Wilton greets spectators on Saturday at the Solon Beef Days Parade. (Nick Rohlman / Independent)
Been busy after last year’s break
In a State House district that includes parts of three counties – Jones, Jackson and Dubuque – Cascade Republican Steve Bradley said participating in parades last year would have been part of his strategy as a candidate for the premiere. times defying a longtime incumbent “if not for COVID -19.”
Most of the summer 2020 parades and festivals were canceled during the pandemic. Some groups, including Linn County Democrats, are still limiting attendance at in-person events due to the pandemic. Many more are returning in parades, even though the next election is not until 2022.
Bradley looks forward to the County Fairs succession to “meet a lot of people and ask them what is important to them, to the district.”
Rep. Eric Gjerde, D-Cedar Rapids, has been to the Linn County Fair and Ely Firefighters’ Pancake Breakfast so far this summer. He agrees with Bradley that attending these events is good for two-way communication.
“I think it’s important in the area that we’re in, you know, representative democracy, that I attend events and hear what people think,” he said.
During the legislative session, Gjerde receives hundreds of emails and telephone messages. At this time of year, with the annual session coming to an end, the pace is a bit slower and allows him to have conversations with voters, Gjerde added.
Attending community celebrations gives office holders the opportunity to hear from people other than politically active people while demonstrating their accessibility, said Melissa Deatsch, spokesperson for Iowa House President Pat Grassley, R -New Hartford.
Melissa Fath hands out American flags to parade attendees on Saturday during the Beef Days Parade from Solon to Solon. Fath, a longtime Democrat and Johnson County Democratic Party volunteer, walked in the parade in support of her husband, Johnson County Supervisor Rod Sullivan. (Nick Rohlman / Independent)
In politics, show yourself to account
It’s unclear whether that translates to votes, but Linn County Democratic Party Chairman Bret Nilles believes the opposite could also be true.
“People might notice when you’re not there more than when you’re there,” he said. “You don’t want them to ask, ‘How come I haven’t seen you? Against them remembering that they shook your hand.
Failure to attend can be seen as a snub and damage a candidate’s reputation with local leaders and voters, Dinkins said. “If a candidate is not running for the community, why should the community be expected to run for the candidate on election day?” “
Upmeyer doubts the parades on foot will shift the votes from candidate to candidate, “but when you run it certainly gives them a good feeling towards the candidate.”
Parade veterans have plenty of advice for candidates.
“Bring more water than you think you need,” Wilburn said.
State Representative Bobby Kaufmann R-Wilton hands out notepads to spectators on Saturday during the Solon Beef Days Parade. Kaufmann and his supporters handed out nearly 3,000 notebooks and several hundred pounds of candy during the parade. (Nick Rohlman / Independent)
Johnson County Democratic Party Chairman Ed Cranston hands out American flags to spectators during the Solon Ox Days Parade. (Nick Rohlman / Independent)
Some parades do not allow participants to throw candy for safety reasons around a float. But if they do, “Don’t run out of candy,” said Upmeyer, a veteran of nearly 200 parades.
Bradley, a dentist, covers his bases with candy and toothbrushes.
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Supporters of Iowa Republican Representative Bobby Kaufmann wave to spectators during the Solon Ox Days Parade. (Nick Rohlman / Independent)
Representatives of the Johnson County Democratic Party marched in the Solon to Solon Beef Days Parade on Saturday. (Nick Rohlman / Independent)