Time To Get Off The Fence



Fence sitting hurts!  It may be a decent vantage point, but not much gets done, and you likely walk away leaving the solution to someone else….and sore.  We get closer by the day to the primary election (18 June), early voting (20 Sept), and the general election (5 Nov).  We are just short of the Line of Departure to a summer season of politics with known candidates, clear issues, and even clearer consequences. 

Actions in the assembly area, pre-flight checks, preparations to get underway, getting your act together, or whatever you might call it, it’s time to prepare to win elections.  Each individual voter, or in the case of American Veterans Vote (AVV), each Veteran and Veteran supporter has a role to play.  Each has their own decision to make regarding time, work, family, and other priorities.  All good.  The AVV model suggests a gradient of useful efforts to win at the ballot box – Vote, Volunteer, Lead – all action verbs!

Candidates and campaigns are very busy in the runup to the primaries.  But one thing about primaries is certain.  It’s a binary outcome.  On 19 June, there will be those selected by the voters and those who aren’t. But remarkably, another truth of primaries is very low voter turnouts, in many cases less than 25%.  It’s that initial primary skirmish that sets the stage for the real battle ahead, where anything less than a 65% turnout results in defeat.  In a presidential year, anything less than an 80% turnout is disaster, regardless of party. Necessary action – VOTE.

With the candidates selected and the field winnowed, big money comes aboard, arguments are sharper and more personal, just as the summer saps the energy and efforts of even the most determined campaigns. Incumbents roll out their supporter lists and trumpet their accomplishments.  Challengers shift from internal brawls and focus now on a known opponent.  They are desperate to gain funding, identity, and momentum. Necessary action – VOLUNTEER.

In this phase of post primary campaigning, there is opportunity to gain leverage over the political opponent who assumes too much about the “end game” in September and October.  The funding, identity, and momentum in this stage are built on small but influential steps around networking, exposure, and organizing.  In this new era of prolonged early voting (45 days), early voting signups right now cannot be overemphasized!  This effort begins at home for all AVV members, Veterans, and Veteran supporters. It extends to friends, families, and associates.  So too is the effort to ensure new Veteran voters are registered. Why?  A reminder about the number of Veterans in Virginia helps to explain.  411K Veteran voters are on the voting rolls.  The VA estimates 650+ K Veterans are in the state.  Therefore, 200+ K Veteran voters are on the fence and likely just getting sore.  All the tools needed to register and obtain a ballot for early voting and track your ballot are captured in the QR codes at the bottom of this newsletter.  Veterans are by nature problem solvers.  They are ever prone to step forward, influence, and take the necessary action – LEAD. 

Momentum is built around a combination of intention, planning, opportunity, and synergy.  The last key element is time.  The more time available to create this synergy, the greater the potential impact on a successful outcome.  The key shortcoming in today’s campaigns is thinking the timeline extends to election day.  Wrong.  The timeline now extends principally to the beginning of early voting.  To leave early or absentee voting out of any plan for election success leads to likely failure.  Hate it or not, only winning elections can ultimately change this reality. Changing minds is a leadership task.  Building momentum for the end game through early voting to election day is a leadership task.  Converting skeptics who promote hopelessness or dismissive disdain is a leadership task. 

In this election cycle, find your role, large or small. Realize that Every Veteran, Every Vote is THE powerful leverage behind the momentum necessary to achieve change through the ballot box. Vote, Volunteer, Lead.  Commit to get off that fence! Don’t be a sore loser.

Veterans Forward!

Bob Wood


CEO, American Veterans Vote