Success in a Virtual Congressional Campaign
Through the REAL program, Political Science major Abby Roubal ’21 deepened her understanding of politics as an intern on a congressional campaign.
Sarah Stoddard ’23
On Election Day in November of 2020, Congressman Jason Crow of Colorado was reelected by over 17 percent and held onto his seat in the House of Representatives. Just two years prior, he won the seat for the first time, becoming the first Democrat to represent Colorado’s 6th congressional district. Amongst his campaign staff this election cycle was Santa Clara University’s Abby Roubal ’21 (Political Science) who worked as an intern funded by the REAL program. This internship gave her the opportunity to see a side of politics she hadn’t yet seen up close. Due to COVID-19, the entirety of Crow’s congressional campaign was conducted virtually—an amazing accomplishment, Roubal says, especially amidst the hardship that came with 2020.
Roubal has been passionate about Democratic politics ever since she began volunteering on local campaigns during high school. “The values of equity and social justice have always been extremely important to me, and pursuing Democratic politics through my internship and in past roles has allowed me to do work that aligns with these values,” she says. At SCU, she has gotten the opportunity to learn about these topics as a Political Science major. Roubal has previous experience working on the legislative side of politics, but since it was an election year, it was the perfect time to gain experience on the campaign side. Being from Colorado, Roubal says, “I have always been passionate about Colorado politics, so working on Congressman Crow’s campaign in Colorado’s only swing district was something I was really excited to pursue.”
Throughout her internship, Roubal worked on tasks such as donor research and outreach, drafts of endorsement questionnaires, policy summaries, press releases, and more. With hard work and coordination, the campaign was successfully run completely virtually. Roubal explains that it was no easy feat, but that the staff was still able to find numerous ways to engage with voters online. Typically, a campaign will consist of numerous in-person events such as canvassing, fundraising, and an election night celebration. “It took a lot more creativity to convert these events into virtual get-togethers, but we were able to host tons of online events, had hundreds of volunteers attend our virtual phone banks each week, and did our best to connect with voters and donors virtually,” Roubal says.
Roubal explains that it was extremely rewarding to see how many voters the campaign was able to reach, even amidst the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. There were plenty of volunteers eager to help out, people willing to donate, and voters who were thankful for the hard work of everyone on the campaign. To others who are studying political science, Roubal says, “I would recommend getting experience in as many areas of politics as possible! [This] can give you a really well-rounded perspective on how all these parts come together to comprise the political system.” For Roubal, working on this campaign gave her experience in a new area of politics. She plans to work in public policy after she graduates, but after this internship, she hopes to spend time on a campaign again at some point in her career.
About the REAL Program
The REAL Program provides paid experiential learning opportunities for undergraduate students in the College of Arts and Sciences. Developed to allow students to discover their interests, gain a rich understanding of a particular field, discern their career goals, and explore future employment fields, the program has distributed nearly $1.7 million to more than 300 students across all majors since its inception in 2018. Placements range from non-profit and community service organizations to research labs, governmental organizations, and beyond. Learn more at www.scu.edu/real/.