The Importance of Self-Research for Political Candidates

by The Campaign Workshop

importance of self-research

Know Thyself and Self-Research

We teach a lot about research on campaigns, and most candidates see the benefits and try to make room in the budget for polling. But although many candidates will do research on their opponents, what many first time (and second and third time) candidates don’t do is get a self-research book done on themselves. Why one may ask, would I need research done on me? I know my background. Here are 3 reasons why self-research is much more important than it may seem.

We don’t always remember everything: That tax lien from 15 years ago you blocked from your memory after countless hours spent on hold with the IRS? Yeah, your campaign team is going to want to know about that. We all have spotty memories, especially when it comes to our own lives.  Best to leave the past up to the professionals.


What you thought wasn’t a big deal could wind up being a powerful negative against you: Holding public office is tricky—and there are plenty of pitfalls along the way. One “present” vote on a politically motivated abortion bill in a blue state, with proper context, can seem reasonable. But, without that context, that vote gives fodder to your opponent. And NARAL. And Planned Parenthood. You see where I’m going with this.

If your researcher can find it, the opposition can to: You need to know what’s out there, your digital footprint is a real thing and these days your past can take on many forms from tweets to articles to an old myspace or dating page. If your research team finds out about it, you’ll need to be prepared to respond, because that means your opponent can find out about it too.

It’s 2018 folks: we live in the digital age. If you have anything unscrupulous or otherwise in your past, and we all do, you need to know what’s out there from an objective standpoint so you can figure out how to best respond. The smart campaigns do the self-research and create a proactive strategy around it. And the bad campaigns become fodder for late night talk show hosts when caught unawares.

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