Get Off Your Ass: How A 20-Something Is Swaying The Presidential Vote

by Alexandra Svokos

If you think you've been doing a lot for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign by tweeting #ImWithHer once or twice, you should really talk to Sarah Horvitz.

Horvitz is 26 years old and one of the many millennials out here in Iowa working on the campaign, trying to make their candidate the first across the finish line. She's an organizer for the Clinton campaign in Ankeny -- a city just outside of Des Moines, the state capital.

Iowans are the first in the nation to vote for their party's presidential nominee, and the vote is coming up on Monday, February 1. We visited Horvitz at the Ankeny office, a makeshift space in a strip mall, and talked to her about her work.

Alexandra Svokos

Young people like Horvitz are major factors in the outcome of voting across the country. They're the ones setting up campaign offices, staffing events and literally walking door-to-door trying to convince neighbors to vote for one candidate over another (and yes, also tweeting #ImWithHer).

Supporting a candidate can involve varying degrees of participation. For some it's as simple as stopping by a field office to pick up a lawn sign or bumper sticker. For others it's spending hours inside the field office working a phone bank and calling up potential voters.

For Horvitz, it was moving halfway across the country to organize the Ankeny office. She moved out here from San Francisco back in July.

I was really comfortable in San Francisco -- I had been working there for a while, I had a lot of friends, a great life there -- but I think the experience to work on a presidential race for someone like Hillary can't pass that up.

Horvitz has been motivating volunteers to support Clinton. She explained:

A lot of what we do on the field team or as organizers is basically go out in the community, start meeting with people, find Hillary supporters and help them help get involved.

Most of the people in the Ankeny office, Horvitz said, are younger than 30, including a group of high schoolers who have been volunteering on the campaign.

You don't need any special resume to get involved in a campaign. But Horvitz didn't try to sugarcoat -- if you really want to support your candidate, it's going to take time and effort. She said:

If you are passionate about a candidate and you want to work on a political campaign and you're willing to work hard -- because this job is never particularly easy, we work long hours, we're often tired -- but if you're driven and passionate, call the campaign. Show up to a field office. Say that you want to volunteer and get involved. It's that simple.

Many young volunteers go out and knock on doors to make their candidate's case. Horvitz said:

Literally there's probably 15, 20, 30 people out there right now knocking doors here in Ankeny. They stop in here, they grab their clipboard, they grab a walk packet, they put it all together, we give them a quick training and out the door they go, ready to knock doors.

Even on zero-degree days out in Iowa, Horvitz said, they've got volunteers dedicated to the cause walking around neighborhoods.

Alexandra Svokos

This is especially impactful in Iowa, which has a caucus rather than the typical ballot vote. In a caucus on the Democrat side, the number of votes a candidate gets depends on how many people physically show up and go stand in a corner for their candidate. As Horvitz said:

Here in Iowa, when you're talking about a caucus, one or two extra caucus-goers can mean an extra one or two delegates for a certain candidate in a precinct. That's winning or losing.

Horvitz isn't sure exactly where she'll end up after the caucus on Monday. But win or lose, she's sticking with the Clinton campaign and will be out there “wherever we're needed.”

Alexandra Svokos

Before working on the campaign, Horvitz worked at a political consulting firm and on races. She's been involved in politics for a long time, having participated in school board politics back in her home in Maryland.

One of the big issues there was sex education, including women's health. This is one of the reasons she's so dedicated to Clinton.

Hillary Clinton has always been a fighter for women. I mean, you know, you saw her in 1995 in Beijing standing up and saying 'women's rights are human rights.' I've always admired her for that. That's incredible work.

She added that Clinton has consistently been fighting for children and families and is someone who “can get results.”

Whatever your motivation is for whichever candidate, you can get out there and help them get votes. You don't have to dedicate quite as much as Horvitz has, but you have a role to play -- even if that role is just going to vote.