Seven questions with "The Campaign Doctor" Craig Varoga
Craig Varoga provides public affairs assistance and campaign services to a select group of public, private and non-profit organizations. His firm offers clients strategic guidance in analyzing public opinion and developing strategies to achieve long-term goals. He answered seven questions on his experience with campaigns.
1. How long have you been writing The Campaign Doctor column?
Since mid-1994 – when Bill Clinton was President, Newt Gingrich was leading his first failed revolution, and I managed to find time to see both “Pulp Fiction” and “Forrest Gump” in a theater.
2 How did you begin doing it?
There was a brief period when the magazine had guest analysts answering questions. I was fortunate enough to get a second audition, and then some.
3. What do you wish people knew about political campaigns?
For voters, that there's a lot of work behind the scenes, sometimes years before an official announcement or a single vote is cast. For staff and consultants, that -- yes, campaigns benefit from using game theory to analyze options -- but no, they're not games and, in fact, the country lives with the consequences of our advice and handiwork. For candidates -- duty comes with honor, and the good of the country is always more important than expediency or short-term tactics.
4. What is the most common mistake folks make in politics?
Letting "yes" people create an echo chamber and believing things are going great, when in fact, they’re going down the tubes – quickly.
5. What do you think is the most under-rated campaign tactic?
One, admitting in a moment of authenticity that you actually have an opinion or policy position that is not supported by the polls or research-tested public opinion. And two, going positive.
6. If you could change one thing about the current political system what would it be?
Make it easier for citizens to vote. Get rid of (vote out) the cynics who make it hard to vote.
7. What is the funniest question you ever answered in your column?
Guy wanted me to endorse his company in an answer and offered to share a portion of any profit resulting from the promotion. After trashing the question as inappropriate, I saw its unintended, weird, mind-boggling humor.
Bonus Question: If you could do anything else other than politics for a living what would it be?
Figure out how Joan Ginther does it. The ex-professor has won four different multi-million-dollar lotteries over a ten-year-plus period. But the odds of that are...
What is your advice to folks trying to communicate in the current political environment?
Be candid. Tell the truth. Don't bore people. Disagree without being disagreeable. Keep at it, even when it seems like you're hitting your head against a wall.
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