I Worked on a Hopeless Campaign. Why?

This year, I was an organizing intern for Merav Ben-David: a Jewish woman, a climate scientist, a Democrat. She was running for Senate in Wyoming, which also happens to be one of the most solidly Republican states in the country. According to polls, the odds of her winning her race were a whopping 0%. The race was called for her opponent just three minutes after the polls closed.

Because of the pandemic, our organizing operation was confined to our childhood bedrooms across the country. We didn’t knock on doors, we didn’t host rallies: instead, we called, we
texted, and we tweeted. Our campaign office was a bustling Slack channel. We hosted watch parties over Zoom. I became close friends and political sparring partners with people I haven’t yet met in person, and might never.

For me, working for Merav wasn’t about this election at all. Obviously, we know that polls can fail spectacularly, so winning was not completely out of the question. But what wasn’t a pipe
dream, what was real were the people I talked to every day. The Wyoming Democrats who had not been this excited about a candidate in decades. The Republicans who were disillusioned and convinced their neighbors to vote for Merav as well. The Independents who switched their party affiliation. If just one person shifts their values or their political engagement because of Merav’s candidacy, then I consider our work worth it—and I alone talked to hundreds of people like that. Multiply that number by the—at least 20 people—working on this campaign, and it doesn’t feel so hopeless anymore.

We ultimately lost the race but, in a state with about 40,000 registered Democrats, our candidate received over 70,000 votes. We changed over 30,000 minds. I worked on a hopeless campaign, but I am incredibly hopeful.