Keegan Goudiss is Managing Partner at Revolution Messaging. Founded by the people involved with the winning Obama campaign in 2008 and the Bernie movement in 2016, this progressive agency help deliver authentic stories to voters. Keegan served as Bernie Sanders’ Director of Digital Advertising for his 2016 presidential campaign and helped to quickly build Sanders’ supporter list. As the election season comes to a close in the US, I could think of no person better positioned to fill us in on what the progressive side are thinking ahead of polling day.
Ciara: 2018, what a year to follow politics in the US. Looking ahead to the Midterms, are you feeling excited? Nervous? Angry? All the above?
Keegan: There are a lot of emotions this time of year that I feel, but the one that is most prevalent is apprehension. I've worked with Democratic campaigns for 20 years now and typically find that overconfidence is a recipe for disaster - people relying on a wave doing all the work are making a mistake, so I want to work as hard as possible and not declare victory too early.
C: Let’s begin with progressive politics, what are the key battles that everyone should be watching closely if the Democrats are going to cause an upset?
K: The key will be in the states on the east coast that polls close earlier, like Florida. How are Democrats performing against historical averages? We'll be able to tell pretty early whether it's a wave and how big the wave is?
C: Blue Wave has been trending heavily in opposition with #Trump all year. Just how powerful has social media been in the US this year? Are you loving/loathing anything in particular?
K: Political communication is driven entirely by social media now, at least among those that are abnormal humans and enjoy discussing politics on a daily basis. I love the fact that something like putting migrant children in cages can't be hidden as easily anymore, but I loathe the fact that those that oppose Trump let him drive the narrative on social media so often. From my perspective, we give Trump too much power by taking the bait.
C: Globally, politics has reached peak partisanship. Are you aware of the political upheaval in Europe (Brexit, populism etc) or does US politics take up so much space that it can be draining looking across the water?
I was hoping at one point if fascist-nationalists succeed in the US that my family could seek refuge in Europe, but I am worried that there is going to be no refuge on the globe for people who believe in justice, equality, and the importance of truth. I'm very aware of the political upheaval in Europe, and the trend globally is troubling. I am forever an optimist though and believe that a counter-movement is brewing of those who may disagree on some political fronts but agree that a future that relies on the dehumanization of others is one to fight against.
C: You have been at Revolution Messaging since 2009, that’s a lifetime for many! What have you learned over the years when it comes to political advertising in the progressive space?
K: It isn't restricted to just the progressive space, but most waste their money on political advertising. A lot of the "experts" I work with are stuck on tactics that worked well in the 90s, but 30-year-old tactics applied to a digital world aren't as successful as some would hope. In Democratic circles, the old guard in advertising won the majority of budgets in 2018, setting up a massive opportunity for candidates ready to eschew tradition in 2020.
C: Finally, have you any last words for people who are going to polls in November?
K: Yes! Your act of voting is an act of heroism, and you have the power to ensure more vote. Nothing is more powerful than an individual convincing their friends and family that they need to vote.