Columbia Democrats Annual Campaign Trip

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The annual campaign trip of the Democrats is coordinated by the four lead activists of the College Democrats

The trip is held over the Election Day break and is completely free for Columbia students, as it is paid for by the respective political campaigns.

The first campaign trip took place in 2004 and was the work of Elizabeth Brown and Seth Flaxman. The trip to Lorain County, Ohio, was bankrolled partially by Sherrod Brown and was enormously successful, though the rest of the state was less fortunate.

Subsequent trips included:

  • 2005: Virginia and the successful gubernatorial bid of Tim Kaine
  • 2006: Ohio, for Brown's successful senatorial race against incumbent Mike DeWine
  • 2007: Kentucky, for the successful gubernatorial bid of Steve Beshear
  • 2008: Virginia, for the successful Presidential bid for Barack Obama
  • 2009: Virginia, for the unsuccessful gubernatorial bid of Creigh Deeds
  • 2010: Pennsylvania, for the unsuccessful congressional bid of incumbent Patrick Murray
  • 2011: Ohio, for the successful referendum of the Ohio Collective Bargaining Limit Repeal
  • 2012: Ohio, for the successful Presidential reelection bid for Barack Obama
  • 2017: New Jersey, for the successful State Senate bid of Vin Gopal
  • 2018: Pennsylvania, for the successful Congress bid of Susan Wild

Preliminary Process

Traditionally, students must submit an application to the lead activists of the Dems, who subsequently select students to go on the trip based on the time they submit their application and the funding they receive. Once selected, students must participate in a four week training session, held on Sunday afternoons, in which they are taught how to canvass and work for a campaign. Students are then instructed on what they are allowed and not allowed to bring on the trip. A popular suggestion is that no "giant ass bags" are brought on the trip, as space in the vans is very limited.


Typically, there are two committees that help the leads in planning certain aspects of the campaign trip.

Social Committee

The social committee is in charge of planning all of the social events that occur during the campaign trip. This includes planning bus games, night time activities, parties, and motivators. Throughout the Campaign Trip, the social committee is also in charge of putting on these events, as well as having big smiles on their faces all the time.

Research Committee

The information committee is in charge of putting together a research packet for the campaign trip about the issues one might face. This includes the candidate's stance on the issues or, as is the case of Campaign Trip 2011, information about the referendum itself. These research packets are very helpful in assisting participants to increase their knowledge about the issues they will be facing and need to know about.


The campaign trip has various traditional activities that occur throughout the week.

Van Bonding

Campaign trip team, otherwise known as van, bonding is a very important aspect for the campaign trip. Vans are decided upon by the lead activists and typically include a lead, a driver, and other students. A van dinner occurs the night before the campaign trip, where CD's are distributed for the subsequent ride. Many times, there are competitions between vans to see which one is better. These often get very competitive and have led to lipstick on other van's windows as well as leaving salad in a warm van. Vans are also canvassing groups, as students canvass in the same groups as their van.


Because canvassing requires waking up early in the morning, motivators are created by the social committee of the Campaign Trip in order to motivate students and get them excited for the day ahead. Except for Campaign Trip 2012, in which buses were used instead of vans, there is usually a run of the Cupid Shuffle, in which van leaders do the dance on the roofs of their respective vans. Other motivators include red light, green light and a dance to Gangnam Style.