Nasty words and blistering attacks are inherent to a competitive political campaign. How to anticipate what your opponent will do, and hit back when the nasty starts to fly.
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Once you have constructed your political campaign message, it is time to take a full assessment of the political landscape, the minefields you may encounter and how your opponent is going to react to what you do and say.
The first step is to take a clear measure of your opponent:
Look at their voting record, where their money comes from, their biography and the truthfulness of what they claim about degrees they’ve earned, and places they’ve worked. What are their issue positions, or times they have been inconsistent? What have they said in social media posts, in TV or newspaper interviews?
I could spend hours talking about surprising things I’ve learned about candidates of political campaigns through the years, including those who have served long in public office. Suffice to say that many have exaggerated their record, embellished their resume, and more than a few have been less than truthful about degrees they’ve earned. Examining your opponent is not a frivolous exercise. It is an essential task.
When you’ve finished the research on your opponent, do the following:
Examine yourself and jot down what you believe to be your natural advantages and strengths. What about your biography, moral code, story or issue positions do you think voters will find appealing? What would you consider your weaknesses? What is the principal difference between you and your opponent?
Next, Examine your opponent. And be brutally honest. What are your opponent’s natural strengths? Does your opponent have a better resume? More money. A longer record. A fervent following among certain slices of the electorate? What about your opponent in a political campaign do you consider to be their greatest weakness?
Next, anticipate what your opponent will do as you gain steam and traction during the course of your campaign:
How might your opponent seek to impugn your integrity, question your veracity, assault your moral code or assail your issue positions? Might they assert that you are unqualified, unprepared, ill-suited for the job, out of touch with people in your jurisdiction or wrong on important issues.
Then War Game:
Develop a plan to respond to everything your political campaign opponent might do, how you will counter the attack, change the subject or hit back with something you have discovered about your opponent.
Can you win a race without doing this? Yes, if you live in a district where victory is a foregone conclusion. But if you are running in a competitive jurisdiction, the political candidate who does the best job in the boxing ring is the one who nearly always comes out on top.
Political consultant Jay Townsend works with smart, passionate candidates who want to run for office, win elections and make a difference. He has successfully helped candidates learn how to run for the U.S. Senate, how to run for Congress, how to run for Mayor and develop a winning campaign marketing strategy.
How to win an election:
Running for office and knowing how to win an election is a challenge, especially for first time political candidates just learning how to run for office. Discerning the fine points of how to campaign, raise political contributions, and execute a political campaign strategy often requires the help of someone who has served as a political strategist or who has experience as a political consultant.