Election Season 2018 U.S. Poverty Action

October 1, 2018

[PDF version]

Tell Candidates to Make Ending Poverty a Priority

Engaging face-to-face is the most effective action you can take to influence your members of Congress and election season offers a chance to build those relationships while future members of Congress, or incumbents running for reelection, are out on the campaign trail. You can make sure that candidates prioritize anti-poverty policies by attending campaign events and raising issues you care about. The key to a successful candidate event is asking a powerful question. Below are examples of questions you could ask candidates at events based on our slightly longer laser talks. We encourage you to personalize questions with stories and local data. Also, if you plan to attend a town hall or candidate event, or secure a face-to-face meeting, please contact Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) to get coaching on how best to prepare.

Town Hall Question: Housing and Closing Racial Wealth Divide

I am deeply concerned about wealth inequality in the United States. Sadly, government policies over our country’s history have worsened inequality and created a staggering racial wealth divide. For example, median wealth for white families is 10 times greater than African American families and eight times greater than Hispanic families. To close the divide, we can start by increasing access to affordable rental housing and supporting homeownership. What are your priorities when it comes to increasing access to affordable housing, especially for communities of color? What are your thoughts about bipartisan proposals to establish a Housing Task Force or increase the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit? 

Town Hall Question: Protect Food Assistance

Many families in our community struggle to put food on the table, and SNAP is the cornerstone of our anti-hunger policy. The Senate has a common sense, bipartisan Farm Bill that protects and strengthens food assistance — while the House’s partisan proposal takes food away from 2 million Americans. If (re-)elected, will you work to strengthen SNAP and oppose efforts to take food and other basic assistance away from working families?

Town Hall Question: Focus Tax Policy on Working Families

As an anti-poverty advocate, I’m concerned about the impact of Congress’s recent tax legislation. We’re already seeing higher budget deficits from the 2017 tax law and, as a result, Congress is threatening investments in basic health, nutrition, and education assistance programs. Unpaid-for tax cuts widen the gap between the wealthy and those struggling to make ends meet, and yet the House just passed another huge tax bill that again primarily benefits those at the top. Will you oppose any tax legislation that increases the federal budget deficit and threatens programs like Medicaid and SNAP? Instead, will you focus on effective tax policy that helps working Americans, such as expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit?

Engage New Volunteers During the Election

Candidate engagement is a fun, exciting way to engage new volunteers. Talking to people during election season about the work you’re doing with RESULTS, when they are paying attention to the issues, is a great way to lay the groundwork of new volunteer engagement after the election.

Laser Talk: Talking to people about RESULTS during election season

Elections give us a chance to decide what kind of future we want to see. By voting, we make our voices heard and take a stand on things we care about. But change doesn’t happen just because we vote. It doesn’t happen just because there are new faces in Congress. It happens because we tell lawmakers what we care about and what we want them to do about it. We make calls, we write letters, and we meet with them.  Change happens because we demand it.

As a volunteer with RESULTS. I am part of a movement of passionate, committed everyday people, using our voices to influence political decisions that will bring an end to poverty. [Include information about your personal RESULTS work] Election Day is just the beginning. As an advocate with RESULTS, you can help write the rest of the story. You can do that too. Are you interested?

Ideas for reaching new people during election season

  • Make sure you introduce yourself and raise anti-poverty issues at public campaign events – and offer to tell fellow audience members more about your work with RESULTS
  • Strike up a conversation with someone you can identify as a potential ally (i.e. someone at a candidate town hall or local organizing meeting)
  • Volunteer for a candidate or issue on the ballot in the upcoming election and talk to fellow volunteers about your work with RESULTS
  • Offer to do a candidate engagement training for a local group or school (contact Jos Linn ([email protected]) for resources)
  • Check out what friends are doing on social media and reach out to ones talking about the election
  • Host an “Election Night Watch Party” and talk about your RESULTS work as the returns come in

I’ve got people interested… what do I do now?

  1. Tell them about a quick action they can take that will make a difference and send them the link to our Action Center (https://results.org/take-action/action-center)
  2. Contact them a few days later to see if they took action and ask how they felt about it. Answer any questions they have about RESULTS
  3. Invite them to review the RESULTS New Advocate Orientation series
  4. Invite them to attend your next RESULTS group meeting and do a reminder right before
  5. At the meeting, carve out time at the beginning to welcome new people and set an agenda that welcomes them to participate in the discussion

Pre-Election Meeting Sample Agenda

Below is a sample meeting agenda for your group before the election. The agenda should take about 60 minutes. Adapt the elements to fit your style and timeframe.

Welcome and acknowledge people for being there.

  • Welcome everyone to the meeting and thank them for taking time to get together
  • Welcome any new people, ask them what brought them to the meeting, have someone give a brief history of the group’s work with RESULTS, ask if they have any questions about RESULTS
  • Review agenda for the meeting

Celebrate recent success

  • Ask group members to share any recent activities and successes

Issues & Action – Candidate Engagement

  1. Take a few minutes for everyone to read the October Action Sheet (above) and ask if anyone has questions
  2. Review the candidates running for office in your area and ask people to volunteer to take the lead on finding any events for each candidate and coordinating prep for each one
  3. Take a few minutes to review the websites in the Action Sheet to find any listed events
  4. If you find any events, ask who in the group can attend and who will e-mail Meredith Dodson to set up a lobby prep call ([email protected]). Review the current RESULTS Laser Talks for potential questions to ask

Issues & Action – Community Engagement

  1. Review your groups 2018 goals about outreach
  2. Brainstorm how you can use election season to engage new people in RESULTS (see Action Sheet for tips)
  3. Create a plan for action including what roles/responsibilities each person will play

Set date and time for next meeting and close the meeting

Monthly Action Network Message – Oppose New Public Charge Rule

Please have your Action Network Manager send this message to your local action network this month.

The Trump administration has released a proposed new rule that would deny permanent residency to immigrants in the U.S. for merely receiving Medicaid, SNAP (formerly food stamps), federal housing assistance, and other public benefits. This is not only bad policy – it’s cruel and immoral. Families might forgo essential assistance, even if they or their kids are legally entitled to it, out of fear of being deported. We must act.

Go to www.protectingimmigrantfamilies.org to submit your official comment opposing the new rule and then submit letter to the editor urging lawmakers and your community to do the same.

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