Start a Political Campaign… A political campaign can be an exciting experience. A great deal will happen between now and Election Day and with a little forethought and planning, you can be prepared for all the twists and turns and, in many cases, control the situation. This article is designed to help you anticipate what will happen and be better prepared.
This article has been developed to assist political parties and candidates in taking these steps to become this type of winning campaign. You should read through the entire manual once so that you have some understanding of the whole process. You should then go through the manual step by step so you will have a good start on your political campaign plan.
Every campaign is unique. While certain basic principles can be applied to each campaign, it is important to have a complete understanding of the particular situation and the conditions in which your campaign will be waged.
At some point in almost every campaign, someone says, “it is different here” or “you’re not taking into account our particular situation.” “Step One: Research” is where you start and where you take into account the differences and peculiarities of each campaign. It is here that you have the chance to demonstrate just how different your situation really is.
The first step in developing a winning strategy must begin with a realistic assessment of the political landscape in which you will be running. It is true that you can never know everything about your district, your opponents, and the voters.
However, by using your time wisely and setting clear priorities, you will be able to compile the kind of information you need to develop a good strategy and be prepared for most events in the coming campaign. There are a number of factors that should be understood as completely as possible as you prepare to write a campaign plan:
- What is the sort of decision and what are the rules?
- Secondly, What are the attributes of the area?
- What are the qualities of the voters?
- Further, What has occurred in the past election?
- What are the principal factors influencing this election?
- In addition, What are the qualities and shortcomings of your opponent?
- What are the qualities and shortcomings of all the suitable opponents?
SETTING A GOAL
The ultimate goal of almost every political campaign is to win elected office. What you need to do here is determine what must be done to achieve that victory. Too often campaigns forget to calculate how many votes will be needed to guarantee victory and determine where these votes will come from.
They then spend their precious resources of time, money, and people trying to talk to the whole population instead of the much fewer voters they will actually need to win.
Here you will reduce the number of voters with whom you need to communicate to a much more manageable size.
As part of your research, you should determine the total population of your district, the total number of voters, the expected votes cast, the number of votes needed to win, and the number of households in which these voters live.
Some of the answers that are needed here require you to look into the future and make some educated guesses. Use your best judgment and the information you have found from past elections.
TARGETING THE VOTERS
Once you decide how many votes you need to win and, therefore how many voters you need to persuade to support your candidate, you need to determine what makes these voters different from other voters who will not support your candidate.
This process is called “targeting the voters” or simply “targeting.” The point of targeting is to determine which subsets of the voting population are most likely to be responsive to your candidate and focus your campaign efforts on these groups of voters.
You will remember when you worked on “Step One: Research,” you were asked to break voters down into more manageable groups. It was said then that you would use this information when you targeted particular voters. That time has come.
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DEVELOPING THE CAMPAIGN MESSAGE
Once you have decided who your target audience is, you need to decide what you will say to persuade them to vote for you. This is your campaign message. It tells the voters why you are running for this particular office and why they should choose you over your opponents for the same office. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
Well, once again, it is deceptively complicated. For example, let us start off by saying what a message is not. A campaign message is not the candidate’s program of what they will do if elected, it is not a list of the issues the candidate will address, and it is not a simple, catchy phrase or slogan.
All of these things can be part of a campaign message, depending on whether or not they will persuade voters, but they should not be confused with the message, a simple statement that will be repeated over and over throughout the campaign to persuade your target voters.
DEVELOPING A VOTER CONTACT PLAN
Once you have decided whom you will be talking to and what you will be saying, the next step is to decide how you will be saying it. In other words, how will you get your campaign’s message out to voters?
Before you look at the various methods for reaching voters, there are some important points that apply to all of the methods. First is the rule of finite resources, which means that you must determine how much each method will cost in terms of time, money, and people.
Second is the interchangeability of the resources and the methods, meaning that you can often accomplish the same task using different resources. Finally, there is the effectiveness of each method at persuading voters, identifying supporters, and turning out your vote.
It is important to plan well in advance for each phase of the campaign, including turning voters out on Election Day.
MAKING IT HAPPEN
You have done the research, set the goal, targeted the audience, developed the message, and figured out how you are going to deliver the message. You have also started to figure out how much time, money, and people all of this will cost.
Where will these resources come from? In this final step, you will look at the roles of the candidate, campaign manager, and other professionals you may have involved in your campaign. You will look at ways to recruit and keep volunteers.
You will develop a campaign calendar and discuss scheduling. Finally, you will develop a campaign budget and figure out how the money will be raised.
The most important concepts on how to start a political campaign are the following:
- You must begin to look at the campaign as a whole and then break it down into easy-to-accomplish parts.
- You must develop a realistic strategy for winning and you must write that strategy down in a realistic campaign plan.
- In addition, you must develop or maintain a good political structure. And make your campaign covers the whole autonomous communities or voting centers that will make up the total number of votes.
- Finally, you must follow through on that campaign plan, doing the hard work of contacting voters and persuading them.
Following these steps will make your campaign much more efficient at using your resources of time, money, and people. Similarly, following these steps will make your campaign much more effective at persuading voters to vote for you. Following these steps will start you well on the road to victory.