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Going Green to Get the Votes

by Brendan Woodward


54 Politics | Canadian Edition

ith environmentalism firmly in the mainstream, you don’t have to press your body against a sappy tree or show your toes in a pair of Birkenstocks to prove you care about protecting the planet. Cam- paigns can win over millions of voters with a po- litically neutral environment-friendly message. Going green will distinguish you from your opponent and connect the campaign’s message to voters with an effective call to action. If you do it correctly, it’s an inexpensive and easy way to build support among your constituents. Many of the steps you take to harmonize your race with the environment will also save money, earn media attention and improve your relationship with sup- porters. However, do it incorrectly and your ef- forts will seem phony and effectively backfire. Follow these nine rules and recommendations for the best results.

Rule #1: Going green is for all parties

There are voters you need to reach with a positive environmental message regardless of your party af- filiation. A Gallup poll released in March 2009 at the height of the economic crisis shows that be- tween 70 and 80 percent of people are still wor- ried about environmental issues despite the poor economy.

Rule #2: Narrow your focus

Because the environment can be a broad topic, you need to limit your message to issues that can be addressed within your district. Begin your green initiative by connecting it with the values and en- vironmental concerns that affect local voters. Want to talk about clean energy and water? If

your district is urban, consider purchasing renew- able energy for your office and touring a rooftop rain garden.

If your district is rural, meet with

farmers who are successfully conserving water and producing renewable energy. Wherever you are lo- cated, there is something green going on that you can be a part of.

Rule #3: Going green is interactive

Begin by asking your supporters what they do to help the environment, and then schedule a cam- paign event that focuses on their feedback. This could be a trip to the local wetland to learn about water quality, a carbon footprint survey sent to your email list or a roadside litter clean-up outing with volunteers from your campaign. Invite your supporters to join the campaign’s effort and put a report on your blog and in a press release.


demonstrating tangible leadership, you will estab- lish your credibility with voters and environmental interest groups.

Rule #4: Tap into more green from your donors

Analyze the action steps you can take to go green and ask donors to sponsor this effort. Most campaign donors are flooded with the same fundraising appeals every election cycle, but by asking them to sponsor specific elements of your green initiative—such as efficient yard sign distribution, reducing paper waste with microtargeting or cutting and balancing carbon pollution—you will give them a better reason to send dollars to your race.

Rule #5: Go public with your effort

Connect the campaign’s message with voters by sending them news updates about your efforts to go green. Include tips from the lessons you have learned with your fundraising letters and relevant direct mail. Monthly emails describing your prog- ress to use less paper, decrease your carbon foot- print or help improve a local stream or park will remind voters and the media that your campaign is determined to improve your district. To maintain your green credentials, always use either 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper or paper that is certi- fied to be from sustainably managed stock.

Rule #6: Make every event green

Whether it is your kickoff breakfast or an evening

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