Robert Paulsen has been busy this summer working as an intern with Judge Linda Morrissey and volunteering his time with the Dewey Bartlett campaign in Tulsa. Urban Tulsa Weekly sat down with Paulsen to get his thoughts on the importance of volunteer work.
Published by Urban Tulsa Weekly
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Raising Their Hands
Mayoral campaigns rely on volunteers
By Jaime Adame
In the campaign, the last hours go by fast.
“It was definitely a blur,” said Robert Paulsen, a 23-year-old student at the University of Tulsa law school.
Paulsen served as an enthusiastic volunteer for Mayor Dewey Bartlett, waking up before 4am on election day as part of a final push to put up signs and then make calls reminding people to vote.
“I definitely would say that I made a difference,” said Paulsen, who estimated he spent about 30 hours volunteering in the final two days leading up to the June primary election.
If there’s one thing Bartlett’s campaign and former Mayor Kathy Taylor agree on after a bruising primary, it’s the importance of volunteers
Undecided voters are “more likely to be persuaded by a friend or a volunteer,” said Taylor. From a candidate’s standpoint, “that’s what makes a successful campaign,” Taylor said. “They’re out giving our message because they believe in the cause.”
As a volunteer, Paulson described the rejection that every political caller faces: “Getting hung up on 10 times to just talk to that one person who’s uninformed and wants help making the decision,” he said.
Phone volunteers start out with a script. “You’ve got several bullet points you want to get across,” he said. “After that, it’s just you and that person talking.” On a personal level, Paulson said he enjoyed the opportunity to “step into their world for a little bit.”
He described his efforts as paying off. On nights when he’d work the phones, “I had about five people a night that were on the fence that ended up definitely voting for Dewey, or I would have three or four strong in another camp, and I would at least draw them in the middle,” he said.
Such results, if multiplied by a few hundred volunteers as passionate as Paulson, could no doubt influence a tight race.