Best Free Technology for Political Campaigns

here’s recently been an explosion of technology built to meet the needs of political campaigns. From door knocking to texting to digital ads to voter registration, there’s likely an app or software product that will help your campaign to save time, effort, and money.

Before we get to the free options, let me put in a plug for Victory Guide, the best-in-class option for managing your campaign’s field operations. Victory Guide eliminates the need to cut turf, make call sheets, or manually organize your voter contacts and data. Campaigns that use Victory Guide, save hours and hours of time—time that can be better spent talking to voters.

In addition to technology specific to campaigns, there are many great free tech tools available to help you. In this blog post, we explore a few.


MailChimp allows you to easily design beautiful email blasts and newsletters without being a graphic designer. It’s free if you have less than 2,000 subscribers.

Yet Another Mail Merge is a great way to send personalized emails in bulk directly from your Gmail account. It lets you easily set up a mail merge to customize the recipients name, organization, donation amount, etc. You can send up to 50 emails a day for free.

Upcoming Webinar on Political Technology

Every candidate running for office in 2019 has the opportunity to run an effective, efficient, and winning campaign, especially if they make use of the growing number of technology products for Democratic candidates.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you are a first-time candidate or are running for a non-partisan office or have a small budget that you can’t run a best in class campaign. There is a new generation of political tech designed to meet the needs of 2019 candidates for local offices.

Need help navigating the options? Join us for an upcoming webinar on technology for down ballot political campaigns.

On May 29, 2019 at 1 pm (Eastern), we’ll be hosting a free webinar to showcase the technology options available for political campaigns.

Reserve your spot on the live webinar at

Can’t join the webinar? Sign up at the above url to receive a link to a recording of the webinar.

Best Down Ballot Technology

Campaign and Elections has recognized Victory Guide as the best down ballot technology solution for political campaigns in 2019. This award identifies the best technology to assist candidates running for local and state offices.

Victory Guide is a digital campaign manager that provides daily advice and automates the most time-consuming parts of running, like cutting turf for door knocking and organizing your campaign data.

This is the second year that Victory Guide has won this award, making us the only repeat winner (within a category) of a Campaign and Election award. The team at Victory Guide is delighted to have our work recognized again!

The 2019 award winners were announced at a ceremony in Washington, DC on April 25, 2019.

Congratulations to all of the award recipients!

How to Earn Political Endorsements

Every candidate knows that endorsements are useful to her or his campaign, but how do you go about earning them? This blog post will cover the how to’s as well as possible sources of endorsements for your campaign.

Why Endorsements Matter

Endorsements are a useful metric for voters to quickly assess what you stand for. This is especially true in primaries, down ballot races, and other low information elections. Research has shown that endorsements (or otherwise listing various issues you’ll work on) allow voters to scan the information and see the issue/cause they identify with and to realize “Oh, they care about [insert an issue] too. This is my candidate.”

Endorsements are also a way for savvy voters and potential donors to assess the viability of your campaign.

Some endorsements come have the added benefit of coming with resources, such as money, volunteers, or publicity to the organization’s membership.

Possible Sources of Endorsements

  • Local newspapers

  • Unions (labor, teachers, firefighters, police, etc.)

Canvassing 101: How to Knock Doors

alking to voters is one of the two most important things a campaign does, other than raising money. Speaking to voters at their home is an effective and low cost way to distribute your message, persuade voters to vote for you, and identify supporters. Research consistently shows that door knocking is the best way to earn voters and to increase voter turnout.

Canvassing can also be an efficient way for a candidate to learn about the concerns in the community and to begin to formulate policy positions. It’s also a great way to prepare for candidate debates, as you never know what a voter may ask you at their door!

What to Expect

  • A canvasser can reach 20 doors per hour in a suburban area

  • One in three doors will be answered

  • You’ll need to contact 15 voters to generate 1 vote, plus a spillover effect of 1-2 additional vote from others in the household

Your Must Have Accessories for Campaigning

A special blog post from Victory Guide’s CEO Julie Palakovich Carr.

As a three time candidate for office and local elected official, I've personally knocked on close to 20,000 doors in the past five years.  In that time, I've fine-tuned what I bring with me to go door knocking. Here’s my go to list of accessories that make door knocking easier.

  • A portable charger for recharging your phone on the go. If you haven’t used one of these devices before, it’s a game changer. You can go out canvassing all day and not worry about your phone battery dying. I have an Android phone and used this model, but similar devices exist for iPhones. The best portable battery will hold enough charge to fully recharge your phone and will be small enough to fit into your pocket.

Running for Office: Expectations vs. Reality

At the start of every campaign, the candidate and the people close to them have expectations about what the campaign will be like, how much work it will involve, and how running will impact their personal lives.  Although some aspects of campaigning are what you would expect them to be, other elements may come as a surprise.

In this post, we draw upon the experiences of Victory Guide’s CEO, Julie Palakovich Carr, who is herself a three-time candidate and local elected official, as well as other candidates for office from across the country.


Running for office is hard and practically no one jumps into a race not expecting to work a lot.  But not all work is created equal.  The golden rule for candidates is that they should be spending their time talking to voters and raising money--everything else can and should be delegated to other people.  But that’s often easier said than done.  People on your campaign team may try to draw you into decisions and activities that are not the best use of your time, such as finessing the language on a blog post or posting frequently to social media.  Enable your staff and volunteers to make small decisions themselves and to only go to the candidate for bigger issues.

Where to Get a Voter File for Your Campaign

Getting a list of the registered voters in your district is one of the essential things that every political campaign needs to do.  Without a voter file, you can't target the right voters.

There are a variety of options of where to obtain a voter roll, including your city/county/state government or a commercial data vendor.

Regardless of where you get the data from, be sure to request the voting history for each registered voter for at least the last three comparable elections.  For instance, if you are running for city council in 2019 and elections for this office are held every two years, you would want the voter history data for 2017, 2015, and 2013.  Although these records don't tell you how a voter voted--the ballot is secret after all--this information is vital in determining which registered voters actually vote.  That's especially important since only roughly 40% of registered voters vote in mid-term elections (e.g. 2018) and the turnout is even lower for primaries, special elections, and odd-year municipal elections.  For instance, turnout of 20% or less is not usual for local elections.  

Door Knocking Made Easy with Smart Walk Sheets

We're delighted to announce a major new feature in Victory Guide: the ability for a canvasser to pick their own walk sheet in the area of their choice.  It's like being able to cut turf on the fly from within the Victory Guide app.


A user simply pans to the part of the district that they want to knock in and taps the smart walk sheet button.  The system will recommend clusters of doors in that area that are actually walkable--no crossing busy roads or impassable barriers like waterways.  If the user doesn't like the first walk sheet that was recommended, they can preview other walk sheets in that area.

Each smart walk sheet is customized to the canvassing schedule of the user.  If a user is scheduled to knock for 1 hour that day they will see a smaller walk sheet than someone who is scheduled to knock for more time.

As always, doors that have already been knocked by the campaign won't be included in a walk sheet nor will doors that another canvasser selected for the day.

Want to see smart walk sheets in action?  Contact us for a demo.

Interview with Our CEO

Victory Guide CEO Julie Palakovich Carr was recently interviewed by IdeaMensch as part of a feature on social entrepreneurs who are working to improve the world through their work.

They define social entrepreneurs "people who establish an enterprise with the aim of solving social problems or effecting social change."

Victory Guide definitely falls into that category. Our team has a goal of making it easy for any progressive candidate to run for elected office and to win. We created this software in order to help other progressives with the drive, passion, and motivation to serve their community as an elected official.

Read the interview.

Victory Guide Wins CampaignTech Award

Campaigns & Elections has recognized 12 companies with 2018 CampaignTech Awards. Victory Guide won for "best down ballot technology solution."

The winners were recognized at an awards ceremony in Washington, DC on April 26 and represent "truly exceptional" political campaign technology, according to Campaigns & Elections, the leading trade publication for political campaigns.

Among the winners were two other companies that were part of the Higher Ground Labs startup accelerator with Victory Guide. Congratulations to MobilizeAmerica and Tuesday Company on their wins!

How to Hire Campaign Staff 101

How to Hire Campaign Staff 101

Your campaign is ready to make the leap and to hire paid campaign staff.  Whether you are making your first hire or staffing up your campaign, here are some resources to help you.

Assess Your Campaign’s Needs

The first step is deciding what help your campaign currently needs or will need down the road.  Ideally, you should be looking to fill a core campaign need(s) with the person you hire.  What are the duties that you as a candidate are struggling with?  Is it formulating campaign strategy?  Is it staying on track for fundraising?  Whatever it is that you need help with, make a list to include in the job description.

Check out this example of a job description for a campaign manager.

Be aware that prior campaign experience is helpful, but not always necessary.  Finding someone who is enthusiastic, self-motivated, and eager to take on new tasks is just as important, if not more so.

Knock, Knock: Why Canvassing is the Best Way to Reach Voters

As a candidate for elected office, it can be overwhelming to try to figure out how to best reach voters.  Should you spend your time knocking on doors or calling voters?  Is attending community events worthwhile?  Maybe it’s better to focus on fundraising and to spend the money on direct mail?

You may also be getting conflicting advice from your campaign advisors, from other people who have run for office, and from vendors.  Each person has their “war story” of how they won an election using some particular tactic.

But how do you know what strategy really works?

How to Knock 10,000+ Doors Without Breaking a Sweat

If you are running for state legislature, county or city council, or school board, you will need to personally talk to a lot of voters. These races for lower levels of government are not big, impersonal machines like presidential or congressional campaigns are. Down ballot races are won and lost by the outreach their candidates personally do.

The science is clear that the best way to persuade voters is to talk to them in person, especially by knocking on voters’ doors.

I know what you’re thinking: knocking on doors takes so much time. And that’s true. But there’s an easy way and a hard way to do door knocking.

Upcoming Webinars

We're holding two webinars in March.  Join us for these free events.

Webinar: Jump Start Your Political Campaign

MARCH 6, 2018


If you are running for office this year or considering it for a future election cycle, this webinar is for you. Learn how to get your political campaign off on the right start and find out the five biggest mistakes candidates make.

Webinar: Best Practices in Voter Outreach

MARCH 14, 2018


Learn the best ways to persuade voters and to get them out to the polls. This webinar will cover the efficacy of various methods of outreach by campaigns and will provide guidance on how to target voters.

Free Training for Democratic Political Candidates

Whether it’s your first time running for office or you are an experienced candidate, it can be helpful to brush up your skills on how to run an effective campaign. Luckily, there are plenty of options available for progressive and left-leaning candidates, many of which are free.

For All Democrats

Wellstone has been the major player in this space for years. Camp Wellstone teaches practical skills to candidates and campaign workers. (Note: this program charges a fee to participate.)

The National Democratic Training Committee offers free online training for any Democrat running for any office in the U.S. They cover everything from calculating your win number to writing a fundraising plan to organizing get out the voter operations.

Understanding Campaign Finance Laws

Campaigns need to thoroughly know and understand the laws regarding campaign finance. Nothing can get a campaign into trouble like running afoul of campaign finance laws. The candidate, campaign treasurer, campaign manager, and anyone else who is helping with raising money or involved with spending money needs to know these rules.

Campaign finance laws differ in every jurisdiction. Even two candidates in the same state may have different sets of rules. For instance, a candidate for city council may adhere to the rules created by the city government, whereas a candidate for state legislature follows state laws.

Before we go any further, a general word of caution: consult your local board of elections for the applicable laws in your race.

Find a treasurer

Most campaigns are required to have a treasurer. This is the person who is officially responsible for the campaign’s money and who prepares and files the required campaign finance reports to disclose donors and spending. Your treasurer doesn’t necessarily need to be a bookkeeper or account, but the ideal pick will be someone who is detail oriented and very organized. They are going to need to track every dollar your campaign receives and every cent that the campaign spends.

Technology for Political Campaigns and Movements


The 2018 election cycle presents new opportunities to engage voters through online and digital means. Whether you're trying to help inform voters about candidates or ballot measures, mobilize political volunteers, or make your canvassing operations even more efficient, new technologies can help your campaign or grassroots organization achieve its political goals.

We're hosting a free webinar on February 22 to discuss the changing political tech landscape. Learn about the cutting edge technologies that are available to help progressives during 2018 elections and beyond.


  • Shola Farber is Chief Operating Officer for Tuesday Company, which is bridging the gap between digital and field organizing. She previously worked with the Obama Administration’s National Economic Council, POLITICO, and was a Regional Director for the Clinton Campaign in Michigan.

  • Alfred Johnson is the co-founder and CEO of MobilizeAmerica, a platform that allows progressive organizations, volunteers, and Democratic campaigns to connect and win. Alfred previously worked on President Obama's '08 campaign, in the Treasury Department, the White House, and in technology and finance.

  • Alex Niemczewski is CEO and co-founder of BallotReady, an award-winning voter guide to every race and referendum on the ballot. She was recognized in Crain’s Chicago Business “20 in their 20’s” list, Techweek100, and as a Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation Fellow.

  • Julie Palakovich Carr is CEO and co-founder of Victory Guide, a digital campaign manager for down ballot candidates. Julie is the youngest woman ever elected to the Rockville City Council in Maryland and is currently serving her second term. She is also a candidate for the Maryland State House.

Register for this free event:

15 Questions All New Candidates Should Ask

You’ve decided to run for office. Congratulations! But now what do you?

One of the first steps you should take is to research the rules, regulations, and laws that govern elections in your jurisdiction. The best place to start is with the Board of Elections or City Clerk, County Clerk, or State (depending on what level of government you are running for). Take a look at their website or give them a call. They likely have a resource packet for candidates.

Some questions you should ask:

  • When is the filing deadline?
  • What paperwork do I need to complete to officially file as a candidate?