Swamp Stories Episode 7: Beating the Machine

“These candidates flipped the script that money matters most in campaigns. And in the end, a message was sent to big donors: that the one half of 1 percent who are used to picking winners and losers in our politics, well, that game is changing.”

The latest episode of Issue One’s podcast, “Swamp Stories,” covers how recent candidates for office — like Reps. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) — have run campaigns that built small-dollar fundraising networks, digital-first strategies, and grassroots armies.

The part that’s most crazy about these campaigns? They took on the political machine and the odds-makers and they won.

Listeners will hear from Crenshaw about the campaign he ran in a Texas race for Congress against a number of candidates, including one backed by big names like Sen. Ted Cruz (TX) and donors with deep pockets. He did it by running a microtargeting campaign and holding events like CrossFit classes so he could get to know folks in his district.

You’ll also meet Lisa Gilbert, Vice President of Legislative Affairs at Public Citizen, a nonprofit focused on defending democracy and ensuring our government works for its people, who discusses the advantages that incumbents have in elections. And you’ll hear from Michael Malbin, Co-founder and Executive Director of the Campaign Finance Institute, a think tank that examines money in politics in federal and state elections, on why we’ve seen such a rise in the number of small-dollar donors over the past few years. 

Small donors and digital organizing are changing campaigns as we know them.

Learn more in this week’s episode, “Beating the Machine.”