As spectators of political debate and electoral politics, we’ve all seen it before. Our favorite candidate takes a turn and ends up going on either a rant, long tirade, or ultimately veers far off the path of his or hers intended candidate messaging. As spectators we can only watch in horror as this trainwreck happens. In the world of social media, these moments are captured more often than not.
By the title, this could be the shortest post in the history of our blog. The typical answer to this question, and the way I teach candidates about political campaigns, is that a political candidate has two jobs: to raise money and meet voters. But these tasks are easier said than done.
A political candidate’s perspective is that message, fundraising, and strategy come from her or him, so not involving the political candidate in those decisions could be disastrous. Anyone who has been involved in a political campaign knows there are many levels of involvement. So let's dig into it. I’ll chat about the candidates role in each element of a campaign and some of the pressure points in between.
How Democrats Can Jumpstart Their Campaigns for the Future
Races are heating up, but there are a number of exciting opportunities for Democrats up and down the ticket. Here are some tips to jumpstart your Democratic campaign:
1. Do a thorough self-assessment. Are you ready to run? Does your family support you? Does your community support you? Have you done your politics? These are important questions to ask and know the answer to before you even file to run. If you can confidently answer, “yes” to these questions, you are ready to jumpstart your campaign.
2. Plan, plan, plan! The biggest mistake a candidate can make is failing to create a campaign plan. Your campaign plan should include a vote goal, budget, timeline, and message. Campaigns themselves are living, breathing animals once they heat up, but your campaign plan should pretty much stay the same.
3. Focus on the right stuff. It’s really easy to get caught up in the back and forth of a heated race and allow that to throw you off course. The best Democratic campaigns stay focused on directly communicating their message with targeted voters and turning them out. Period. Everything else is just noise.
4. Do the work. Running for office is hard. Doing what it takes to win is often even harder. Spending hours on the phone, asking for money every single day, is tough. Knocking on every targeted voters door is exhausting. But this is usually what it takes to win. The best way to jumpstart your campaign is to embrace the work and lean into it. You’re probably running because you want to represent your community—use this time to get to know them and ask them to join your campaign.
Candidate Recruitment Doesn't Happen the Way You Think It Does
Candidate recruitment is a lost art form. There is a lot of lore and legend about candidate recruitment we are here to give a more realistic view of candidate recruitment. Contrary to popular belief, someone from the DNC does not appear one day, out of the blue on you doorstep, and say you should be the next representative from Omaha.
As a First-Time Candidate, You'll Need to Sort Facts from Wishful Thinking
As a first-time candidate, you’ll likely have a steep learning curve and a lot of information thrown your way. Whether you’re still deciding if you want to toss your hat in the ring, or you’re just starting to get your campaign moving, it’s important to embark on this process with your eyes wide open. Here are a few things you’re likely to hear that should cue you to take a beat and assess their accuracy.
Campaign Message Tips: Stay on Message Even When It Is Personal
Staying consistent with your campaign message is not easy. When first entering into politics some people may tell you to “never take it personal,” referring to the awful things people may say about you or your issues. "Stay on Message" "You need to have campaign message discipline" - is something you hear over and over again but that is easier in theory than reality.
If we lived in a world that was devoid of feelings and emotions then this could be possible, but luckily we do not. We want our representatives to have an emotional attachment to their constituents and the issues affecting them. There is, however, a time when we must try not to take it personally and battle a brick wall that will never move.
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