A YOUNG GUN’S GUIDE TO SEEKING OFFICE
TO RUN, OR NOT TO RUN, THAT IS THE QUESTION by TOM MURRY
Why are you running for office?
If it takes you more than 30 seconds to articulate a response to this question, then take a step back, and rethink what you’re doing. Running for office may not be the job for you.
You are a candidate — not a professor, not a radio host and not a long-winded televangelist. You do not have the luxury to take all day and explain your positions. Be prepared to answer questions, even the complex ones, in 30 second or less sound bites. This takes practice, but it is essential to effectively convey your message.
LOOK AT YOUR DISTRICT
Ask yourself some more basic questions: How many votes do I need to win in my district? How much money do I need to raise to get my message to voters?
These are questions of message and mobilization. They mean everything in your campaign. Can you sell your message and confirm it with votes in the ballot box?
This is not advice to change your positions or philosophy, but it is about how to persuasively present your message to likely voters.
Calculate your chances of winning before you even consider challenging your potential opponent.
Make certain that the number of votes required for victory can be won with your message and your party’s platform. Develop a path to victory from the outset.
FINDING VOTERS AND AVOIDING PITFALLS
Where do you find voters? How do you reach them?
If you are your party’s nominee, you should have access to extensive voter lists. Additionally, you can purchase lists from consultants, but be careful not to pay too much.
If they support your opponent, mark this down in your database, do not waste time communicating with them again, and hope they forget to go vote on Election Day. DO NOT TRY TO PERSUADE THEM. Your time is severely limited and extremely valuable — focus on your supporters and undecided voters.
If they are undecided, mark this down in your database, and focus your message and outreach efforts to earn their vote.
The undecided vote is where elections are won and lost. You and your opponent are competing for this vote, so you should give them the most attention. Hone your message and target your communications to engage these undecideds and earn their support.
Finally, walk, walk, walk. Knock on doors and talk to voters as often as you can. But don’t just knock on everyone’s door. Generate walking lists from your voter lists and target undecided households.
VOLUNTEERS AND SUPPORT
Encourage them to attend grassroots training and prepare to play an active role in your campaign. Even if they can only dedicate a few hours a week, never turn away a volunteer — no matter what. There are always meaningful ways for any volunteer to contribute: licking envelopes, making signs, or answering phone calls are a few examples of tasks anyone can complete.
Independently-wealthy candidates routinely do well, but it is unlikely that you are in a position to fund your own campaign. So you must make plans to raise enough money to win. Remember, elections are all about numbers: dollars, volunteers, and voters.
Your message should be clear and concise, especially online. Always remember that studies have shown people have about half the attention span online than they have when reading print materials.
Printed materials are also an important outlet to share your endorsements. You can send them in the mail or pass them out on the streets. Always have clear, straightforward campaign literature with you and your staff at all times. You never know when you may grab a vote or a donation — running for office is a 24/7 commitment.
In order to run a successful campaign, you must devise a strategic battle plan from the start. Ask yourself the right questions, and be reasonable with your answers. In fact, walk through this process with a close friend or confidant who will give you an objective, honest assessment of your chances for victory.
Campaign season runs at a frantic pace. Unless you have a well-orchestrated plan to implement your strategy, your campaign may crash and burn quickly. But if you invest your time wisely and provide your campaign with clear direction, victory may be in your future.
THE REAL NATURE OF POLITICS
MANDATORY LESSONS FOR OUR MOVEMENT by MIKE ROTHFELD
Forget everything you think you know about politics and prepare to question your outlook towards government power.
In the next issue of YAL’s Winning on Principle Newsletter, seasoned political strategist and campaign consultant Mike Rothfeld bluntly explains “The Real Nature of Politics.”
If there is one newsletter you must read, Mike’s is it.Published in