May 12, 2016
Our trackers are our eyes and ears on the ground, and they are essential partners in the DNC’s fight to hold Republicans accountable for their extremist views. We hope you enjoy reading about their time on the trail!
What cycle/time frame were you a tracker for the DNC? What was your role (IE: what did you “track”)?
Tracker 1: I tracked in Iowa from August until the Caucus. Afterwards, I tracked events in various states including New Hampshire, Nevada, Oklahoma, Michigan and Ohio.
Tracker 2: I started tracking in early 2015. I tracked presidential candidate events in Florida and recruited volunteers for tracking in Florida and states in the Southeast and West.
Tracker 3: I started tracking in April of 2015 in South Carolina. At that point I tracked all 17 of the GOP candidates until they dropped out of the race. I would also cover VP prospects when I had the chance.
Tracker 4: I tracked the Republican presidential candidates in New Hampshire from July of last year through Primary Day in February. Then, I continued on to other early primary states through the middle of March.
Can you give an example of how your role made an impact on the campaign/election?
Tracker 1: I got footage of Ted Cruz telling a DACA recipient that she would be deported in a Cruz administration.
Tracker 2: A volunteer I recruited to attend an event got footage that was recently featured in the news. Every day the Tracking team holds the opposition accountable, that’s a win for Democrats!
Tracker 3: My role impacted the primary cycle because we were able to get into events and have access to information that we might not have been able to have.
Tracker 4: I managed to get a volunteer inside an event where a top campaign staffer admitted some major limitations of their candidate and their campaign. That candidate wasn’t in the race by the end of that month.
What is your favorite aspect of being a tracker?
Tracker 1: I think my favorite part was being able to see things firsthand. Having the opportunity to see and sometimes meet famous politicians (despite ideological differences), their staff, and their supporters and experience all the excitement at events is pretty powerful.
Tracker 2: My favorite aspect of the job was getting to see the opposition candidates work. You’re getting an understanding of what running for president actually is like, the sacrifices it entails. You also come across some interesting characters.
Tracker 3: My favorite aspect of being a tracker was seeing other places that I probably wouldn’t have.
Tracker 4: While most of the people I interacted with on a day-to-day basis were Republicans, they were generally hard working, top professionals in their field. And I learned a lot by getting to see how they ran events, interacted with media, and worked with their candidate.
What advice would you give to current or aspiring DNC trackers or political tracking professionals in general?
Tracker 1: Always keep your composure and take things one event at a time. And keep a folder on your computer with pictures of you with candidates.
Tracker 2: Be prepared to hustle and really try and get a feel about how these candidates see things. As Sun Tzu said “If you know the opponent and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”
Tracker 3: Always have a backup plan. Things happen out in the field. I’ve had volunteers show up late, equipment malfunction at the most inconvenient time, there’s always a chance that event times could change, or I’ve been kicked out of events by the candidate’s staffers.
Tracker 4: If you’re someone who is going to be tracking multiple events with the same candidate, the only real tool you have to work with is your personality. You can’t presume you’re always going to be an anonymous face in the crowd forever, and if a candidate is hosting private events, you have to rely on professional and respectful opposition staffers to allow you to stay at the event. Being friendly, respectful, and persistent got me into a lot of events I didn’t expect to get into and a couple the other trackers didn’t.
Please note – names have been changed per request.