What is bird dogging?

Presidential candidates are flocking to Iowa to court our vote. But where do they stand on our issues? Bird dogging candidates is an effective way to find out where they stand on the issues and shape the national debate. Read this guide and let the bird dogging begin! When you’re ready, we have three starter bird dogging questions to take to your next event.

     What is bird dogging? To bird dog something means to seek out, to follow and watch carefully. When used in the context of campaigning, it means to seek out and attend candidate events and ask them specific questions on key issues you care about.

     The beauty of bird dogging: Imagine the impact we could have if candidates are hearing the same questions multiple times from hundreds of people. By raising the same issue at multiple campaign events, we can get candidates to address our issues. And, when candidates address our issues, it is more likely that media and other Iowans will pick up on it as well. By bird dogging, we can help define candidates on our issues.

     The art of bird dogging:

  • Seek them out. Find out where your candidates are going to be and be there. Check candidate websites, subscribe to their email lists, watch the newspaper and check with the county or state party.
  • Attend candidate events often and arrive early. Arriving early ensures you’ll get a good seat – one where you’ll be easily called upon for a question. Take a few people with you, it’s more fun and makes it easier to have support.
  • Have your question prepared. Know what you are going to ask and keep it short and to the point. Be prepared to ask a follow up question if you feel the candidate dodged your first one
  • Ask your question early. Many people do not raise their hand immediately. Getting your hand up fast will help ensure you get to ask your question.
  • Take advantage of opportunities. If the candidate is walking through the crowd and shaking hands, position yourself where you can shake their hand and ask your question, especially if there is no question and answer period at the event.
  • Take notes. Keep track of what the candidate said. Also, take note of why they do or not support something; it could help you frame your question the next time you ask it of that candidate.
  • Be prepared to talk to the media. Press often likes to speak with people who have asked a question. Seek out the media, if possible. It is a great way to keep the issue in front of the candidate and the general public.
  • Share what you’ve learned. Tell others who care about your issues.  Consider having a friend record your bird dogging questions so you can share them online. And, let CCI Action staff know what happened and what the candidate said.
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