Over the past few months we have discussed the components of your message and the many ways of disseminating your message to the political marketplace.
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Today, we turn to some of the things that need to be done, or known before you ever leave your front door as a candidate for public office.
First up? Demographic research on your jurisdiction.
I am continually amazed at how little candidates know about the places where they are running. That is like embarking on a long trip without a clear destination or any notion of how you are going to get there. That’s not very smart, and candidates who try it usually run out of money or commit some colossal mistake that sinks their campaign.
What do you need to know about the voters you are marketing yourself to? Start with some easy to find basics. Party affiliation, ethnicity, race, religion, age, income, education level and gender.
Then break it down and categorize it by partisan affiliation. Do the Republicans differ from the Democrats? Do non-enrolled voters differ from those who have a partisan affiliation? Look at turnout patterns. Who votes in low-turnout off year elections, versus high turnout even year and Presidential year elections? This is important because it affects your appeal, your budget, your targets, and just about every other component of your campaign.
Dig down. Who are the major employers? What is the median household income? The unemployment rate? Is this a white, blue collar or mixed district? What is the ratio of private versus public sector employment? Are there big differences in income and employment levels in different geographic areas of your jurisdiction?
What percentage of the people are on public assistance or dependent on the government for health care, food and housing?
What percentage of the people have health insurance and who are the major health care providers?
What is the state of education? Teacher salaries, graduation rates, proficiency in reading and math?
Are there important military installations, or a significant number of people who derive their living from military spending?
If you are well versed on your journey before you start… If you’ve studied the maps and know what you are likely to encounter on the trip, the more likely it is that you will arrive at your destination without going over budget, or get lost on a detour that throws your campaign off course.
There are plenty of horror stories about candidates who did not plan their trip. Or know what they needed to before they started their journey as a political candidate. They now reside in very large political graveyard reserved for the ill-informed and ill-prepared. Those there carried to their grave the pain of unfulfilled promise. Don’t let that happen to you.
Have questions? Call me at 845-458-1210. Or email me at [email protected]
Last Week’s Video: Running for Office? Using the Press to Communicate Your Message
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.
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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.