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No candidate is ever in sync with the electorate on every issue. Sometimes, you will find yourself on the wrong side of an important campaign issue. In this video, how to defend yourself when your position is unpopular with the electorate.

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Former Governor Mario Cuomo was a steadfast opponent of the death penalty, at a time when New York voters were in favor of it.

Governor Chris Christie is pro-life, but has twice won in pro-choice New Jersey.

Likewise, Donald Trump refused to release his tax returns, even though a majority thought he should. And a majority of Americans disagreed with Mrs. Clinton’s open borders position.

How do you handle it if you are on the wrong side of a campaign issue important to voters?

  1. Don’t wear your unpopular position on your sleeve. Talk about issues in which you are in sync with voters.
  2. If you are asked about an unpopular position on the campaign trail, or in a newspaper, television or radio interview, give a quick answer, and pivot to an issue that gets you votes.
  3. If you cannot escape a discussion of an unpopular position, there is an art to defending it…

I’ll use Mrs. Clinton as an example. She said unfettered immigration was fine with her and also asserted that trade with Mexico has been good for the Mexican people. It is true that some immigrants do jobs that many Americans don’t want to do—It is also true that trade has lifted wages in Mexico, and in turn lifted many out of poverty. But, this is the “but”. Those kinds of intellectual arguments may work at an academic seminar, but they are death on the campaign trail.

Never defend your position by talking about why it is good for someone in some faraway place. If you are defending an unpopular position do it by talking about why it is good for your constituents. Voters in your jurisdiction want to know what you are going to do for them. That will not change any time soon.

This issue is just one of several topics I have covered in my new My New E-book“10 Timeless Lessons from the 2016 election.” IT’S FREE.


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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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