10 Signs You Are on a Losing Political Campaign

Warning Signs from Losing Political Campaigns

Can you spot a losing political campaign? People plan and launch political campaigns with the best intentions, but sometimes they get off track. Here are some warning signs I have heard from losing political campaigns:

10. “We can’t take a stand on that.” Don't run not to lose. Sometimes folks spend the majority of their time worried if they are doing the wrong thing. Take some bold stances and calculated risks. If you spend all your time worrying about saying the right thing, you are not being bold enough.

9. “I refuse to dial for dollars.” Losing political campaigns don't do enough call time. The candidate avoids it, so the staff spends countless hours creating strategies to raise money without the candidate. If you are on a call trying to figure out how to raise money without doing call time, you are on a losing campaign.

8. “I just bought some great drink coasters and fortune cookies with my name on them!” The best political campaigns are the most disciplined ones. They have the focus and understanding to know that they can only spend money on a few things: defining why voters should vote for them and not their opponent. The worst candidate campaigns waste money on things that don't communicate a contrastive message.

7. “I don't trust my political campaign team and think they make bad decisions.” Politics is a team sport. You cannot win without the right players, so think long and hard about who is on your political campaign team and whether they can help you. Also think about whether you have a good structure and the right roles exist.

6. “What is a vote goal and how can I buy one?” How many votes does it take to win and where will those votes come from? You need to be able to answer this question. If you can't, your political campaign is in big trouble.

5. “Somebody made up my vote goal but I don't know who those voters really are.” You must know the voters who make up your vote goal and who make up your winning coalition. Figure that out.

4. “What should we talk about today?” What you are talking about in the campaign must connect you in a clear way with the audience you need to move. You can't just make it up on the fly. Be thoughtful and think how your message connects to your strategy lack of disciple is a clear sign of a losing campaign.

3. “I don't want to mention my opponents name—sssh! Don't tell anyone he is running.” Folks need to know the difference between you and your opponent. If you can't articulate that difference in six words, keep working until you can.

2. “I will be the first Democrat to win in a 70 percent Republican district, please give me money.” Before you put everyone through a political campaign, make sure you can win. If you can't win the race, do not run.

1. “My mother won't return my calls and my wife begged me not to run.” Beyond paid staff and consultants, make sure your friends, family, issue groups, business leaders, unions, etc. on your team fully back you. You must build a real coalition of the right people in order to win a political campaign.

Have you heard warning signs of a losing political campaign? Add them here.

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