WHAT IT TAKES AND HOW TO WIN AN ELECTION
Every campaign starts with the question, “How can I win?” It’s important for each and every campaign to map out the strategy that will get them there… the theory of how to win. Far too often, a campaign begins with no clear vision of how to get there, and too many candidates let things be to just see how things turn out — this is NOT a strategy to win.
Running for office can be a very lonely feat, and you should always anticipate to do the majority of the hard work on your own. Personalizing your campaign will be of the upmost importance, telling your story of why you are running and providing value to the voters will be what gets you elected. No matter the size of your campaign, there is a general step-by-step process that should be taken in learning how to win an election. Follow along for our top recommendations to success!
DOES IT EVEN MAKE SENSE TO RUN?
One question you must ask yourself before filing to run for office is, “Do I even have a chance of winning?” Do the voters know who you are yet, will you be able to get on the ballot, is there anything that will get in the way of your campaign? These are all things that you need to think about before running to make sure it’s a good decision to run for office. Know how many votes you will need to win, and determine if it’s going to be attainable.
START OFF STRONG AND CONTINUE STRONG
Too many times we encounter campaigns that either don’t have the right idea, or they do but they don’t continue with their strategy. A strong campaign stands out among the other candidates and proves that you truly are the right candidate to help your community achieve incredible things. The beginning of your campaign should focus on two things: Raising campaign contributions and organizing a campaign plan. Start there, and you will finish strong.
SET YOUR BUDGET AND STICK TO IT
This point can go along with the previous. Make sure that if you’re starting strong, you have enough budget to continue strong after your first initial push. When you’re beginning to form your budget, you may need to go out and raise more contributions. Some campaigns are candidate-funded, but if you can ask people to donate money and receive contributions then that allows you to go out and talk to more voters. Make sure you will have enough budget to service your campaign from finish to start.
YES. WE SAID, “FINISH TO START.”
Voter outreach is most effective in the final 2–3 weeks of an election. This is when the voters are most aware of campaigns, and most vulnerable to your advertising. We recommend starting to plan your election backwards — from end to beginning. Always make sure you have your GOTV messages and voter contact services planned out ahead of time. These forms of outreach will happen in the last few weeks of the election, and it’s important to make sure you reach out to the voters during this time. Plan to have your mailing and digital campaigns fill the gaps, and supplement the rest with meeting voters in person, knocking on doors and attending events. Here’s a list of services in the order that we find them best to be used:
- Polling | Before — Start by finding out where you stand. This should be done at the very beginning to help let you know if it even makes sense to run.
- Digital Advertising (Geo/IP) | Entire Campaign — Digital advertising spans throughout the entirety of your campaign to familiarize the voters with your name and campaign.
- Door Knocking/Neighborhood Walking | Entire Campaign — Always be knocking on doors and talking to your voters. A personal experience will gain a vote, almost every time. If you’re talking to the voter one-on-one, the likelyhood they vote for you increases exponentially.
- Yard Sign Placement | Entire Campaign — Again, always be finding new places to put your yard signs. If you talk to a voter, ask to put one in their yard. If you get an endorsement, ask to put one at their location of operations. Seeing support all around town can really send a positive message to people, and that’s what this does. Another way to place signs effectively is through a press-1 robocall campaign!
- Emailing | Periodically — Email campaigns can be periodically throughout the campaign. An email is good for gaining awareness of a current issue at hand, an upcoming event, or even a GOTV message. Use these when you see fit.
- Direct Mail | Periodically Toward The End — Mail brings authenticity to your campaign. Seeing a good quality piece of mail tells someone you are official. A mail project is good to use when you receive an endorsement, when there is controversy over a topic or as an introduction to your voters. A good campaign typically sees 1–3 mail pieces per election.
- Live Calling | Periodically Toward The End — Live calling can be a great personal way to reach the masses quickly. Typically a political call center will train their agents on each campaign they work with, so the agents can really advocate for the campaign effectively. A Live Call project is good for raising awareness and building support, GOTV messages, Voter ID projects, yard sign placement and more. The options are endless when you can dictate what your agents are saying and offer comprehensive scripts for them.
- Robocalling | Final Two Weeks — Robocalling is known nationwide as those annoying calls that everyone gets in November. The nice thing about robocalls is that they’re super affordable… and well, they work! Robocalling is perfect for those last minute GOTV messages, telling voters about an upcoming event, or even sign placement with a press-1 robocall.
- Texting | Final Two Weeks — That final push is the most important, and texting is one way to get it done. Almost everyone has access to a cell phone these days. Easily reach thousands of voters with a personalize text message that can persuade them to vote (and vote for you). Texting is great for GOTV campaigns, persuasion messages, and any type of outreach.
LISTEN TO THE VOTERS
Remember, the voters are the ones who get your elected. If you listen to them and support their needs, they will return the favor and vote in your favor. Your campaign should be able delivering results for your community and you are the method of transportation for the voters to do that. Don’t lose track of the reason you’re running — for the voters and the community, not for the campaign experience.
If you lose yourself along the way, always go back to square one. Divert to your written plan, your allocated budget, your reasoning to run and your expectations of the race. Don’t be afraid to ask for help along the way, voters will appreciate you admitting that you don’t have all of the answers as long as you are willing to put the work in to to figure them out. Always continue working, and don’t give in to the “set it and forget it” mindset. A campaign is a lot of work, and you need to be fully invested in it.