Over the last couple weeks, I’ve talked with more than 20 candidates who want to run for office. There is a common request. All ask for an explanation, a big picture view if you will, of what is entailed in a political campaign.
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Today, I’ll provide the overview to you in less than 5 minutes. In the coming weeks I’ll go into greater detail about elements of what I call the road map of a political campaign.
There are three major components:
The message, the means you will use to disseminate the message, and the preparation that you should do before you begin the campaign.
Your message has five components…information voters expect you to tell them. What is your rationale…the reason people should vote for you. What is your story, as in what have you done or accomplished that qualifies you for the job. What are your values…your deeply held beliefs and convictions. What is your position on important issues of our time? And what makes you better than your opponent?
The means you use to disseminate your message can take many forms. You—as in the speeches you give, the photo ops and the press conferences you have, or the doors you knock on. Your website. Social media. Internet ads. Television. Radio. Persuasion mail. Telephones. Newspaper ads. Volunteers that distribute your palm cards or flyers. Yard signs. And the coverage you generate from the press.
Then there is the preparation that should be done before you step outside your front door as a candidate. Research on the district—the partisan affiliation, age, income, education level, turnout patterns, race, religion, ethnicity, and the major employers. Issue research—so that you know what you are talking about when you are in public.
- A preliminary budget, so that you know how much money you’ll need to raise.
- A fundraising plan, so that you are not left with a stack of unpaid bills.
- A press list, so that you know the names of important reporters and press outlets.
- Opposition research, so that you are familiar with the statements and voting record of your opponent. And in large and complicated races, you’ll also want to do a benchmark survey before putting the finishing touches on your advertising strategy.
So there you have it. The elements of a political campaign in less than 5 minutes.
During the coming weeks I’ll be doing a deep dive into each of the items I just mentioned… how to tell your story, convey your values, articulate your issue positions and deal with your opponent. How to make sure that you pick the best and most efficient means to disseminate your message. How to ensure that you are well prepared and ready to put your best foot forward before the campaign begins.
In the meantime, if you have questions or comments, hit the comment button, call me at 845-458-1210, or email me at Jay@JayTownsend.com.
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.