With over 60 potential candidates being bandied about and 12 serious candidates already in the race it is well-known this Presidential primary will be one of the most difficult in our Party’s history. 1976 was the last year that we had a Democratic slate of candidates in the double digits. While this time period is worth studying, its historical significance as the first election using a primary and caucus system, as well as its dated nature means we would be ill-advised to use this year as a strategy model. Obviously, we can extrapolate some modern-day strategies from the 2016 Republican primary however it is important to keep in mind the differing cultures in our Party infrastructure and membership customs as we do so.
Campaigns will operate in waves shaped by two primary forces: the primary/caucus calendar as well as the monthly debate schedule from June 2019 — April 2020. The final primary/caucus calendar will be solidified in May 2019. We can expect the great majority of candidates to go through similar phases regardless of the timing they begin Phase 1. This many variables and outside influences means the atmosphere will remain chaotic and choppy the majority of the time. To create stability and functionality during the tumult a candidate must have a secondary goal they keep their staff and supporters focused on. This secondary goal should be an evident winner to maintain morale at all times.
Traditionally money has been the predicting factor in many primary races. Both current political culture and the crowded field will make this sole factor harder to rely on. What candidates spend their money on will be equally important to how much money they raise.
State of the race: Never before have we seen the variety in possible candidates for President. Trump’s profile has blown the boundaries off any pre-conceived notions of what qualities and resume one must possess to run for President. This gives an advantage to anyone who is ambitious. Being thoughtful, strategic and intentional is more important than ever before. There are every demographic, geographic, and ideology represented in the field being currently discussed and many in multiplicity. This is great news for America and shows just how quickly our culture has evolved. It makes it just that much harder for anyone considering a campaign. Figuring out how to set yourself apart and rise above the din will be difficult and require courage and a willingness to take risks. More than 50% of the names on the list for potential candidates are white, males which makes their job even more difficult.
Candidates who perform the best will be leading the pack not going whichever way the wind blows therefore polling and social media tracking should be used to inform materials not shape them. It will be essential to pick a handful of tactics that are innovative and specific to the candidates profile. Getting sucked into ideology and issues will be a losing battle as candidates will be constantly forming, shaping and changing positions. Focusing on a set of core values and expressing those with specific tactics and stunts will give a candidate the ability to individuate oneself.
Successful candidates will gain advantages with each of the following items:
- A large following
- Known public profile
- Ownership of a clear base of support
- Ability to stay on message; repetition and consistency is key
- Charisma required to persuade
- Ability to control the media and news cycle
- Creative strategies and tactics
- 10. Ability to control spending to focus on impact
- 11. A personal profile that sets them apart from other candidates
- 12. No personal baggage
- 13. Self-control to ignore attacks
- 14. Self-control to run on their platform rather than against others
Political climate: We live in a post-truth era where anything is possible. The everyday American is focused on survival and surrounded by fear. For decades propaganda has taught us that politicians are crooked, government is broken and it’s a waste of time to participate in the political process. Many times a day media shows us examples reinforcing these positions. People of faith and hope have a difficult time believing this is the reality we are living, even as it unfolds before their eyes. This amount of chaos and unfettered societal standards are difficult for most. It causes the majority of folks to keep their head down and focus on what they can control in their immediate environment. Our democracy is threatened by hacking, gerrymandering, lack of poll access and Republican controlled electoral supervision.
The reality of the longest government shutdown in history, impeachment proceedings, children in cages, border injustices and more isn’t going away. However, we are also seeing more people than ever rise in consciousness and engage in political processes. People pushing through their own obstacles and inconveniences to rise up and help others, build awareness and resist injustice. People who have embraced this new reality and mold it to their benefit are achieving great results. There is a path forward out of this declining societal state. It requires courage, leadership and evolution of thought and solutions. We must focus on solving the problems of tomorrow rather than the problems of today. If we allow ourselves to get caught up in the chaos and devolution we will only create more of it. We must rise above the everyday course of events to fight for solutions for our future problems. A leader who can create an aspirational, inspirational vision of a thriving world for our children can break through and guide us forward.