15 Tips to Increase Your Chances of Winning a Political Campaign

It’s early January and you’ve made some New Year resolutions. One of these might be doing what you can to change things for the better.

So you decide to run for office or at least help someone else do it.

For most of us, this would not be an easy undertaking, and it would be nice to have a lists of things you can do that would help you win. Well, glad you’re here! Shall we get started.

  1. Make sure your family is on board. This might be the most important piece needed for a successful campaign. The phrase “happy wife equals happy life” is a good way to look at it (even if you have to get your husband on-board).
  2. Resign yourself to hard work. The most effective campaign tactics are physically and mentally demanding.  Voters trust and support candidates who work hard and earn the job. Stamina is a job requirement.
  3. Have a written plan. Think back and remember that whenever you were most successful in life – you probably started that effort with a detailed plan. It’s a roadmap that keeps you on track and under budget.
  4. Find a winnable office for which to run. You’re going to invest a lot of time, money and effort in this endeavor. Don’t choose an office that you have no shot to win. Going from novice to running for US Senate is probably not a smart move.
  5. Probably best not to start too high on the ballot. Currently, 8 out of 100 US Senators had never held office before running for the Senate. Only 24 people since 1980 have this distinction. Remember that most higher office holders started as city councilperson and moved their way up.
  6. Pick a side. Much more often than not either a Republican of a Democrat wins any given campaign. It’s just the way it is. See next point.
  7. Be involved in local party politics. This is how you learn how things work and start to understand why they work that way. These are the people who will be helping you as your start your campaign.
  8. Raise money then raise some more. Unless you’re independently wealthy, you’re going to have to be an excellent fundraiser. Many times your donor base is strongly correlated to your support base. We didn’t say you had to like it, just that you have to do it. No one ever wins on “I can overcome the money with grassroots support.”
  9. Use quality voter data. This matters a lot. If you get your data for free or from any government official, you may want to call me. Too many things can be  linked with voter data, and much of the extra stuff that comes with it comes from quality vendors.
  10. Realize that smart targeting is better. At 300 yards, a rifle is a million times more accurate than a shotgun. If you target smartly, you will save money, time and resources while amplifying your efforts. Example: never knock on every door.
  11. Be empirical and not anecdotal. This is not just me being a data geek. Leave the anecdotes for the comedy club. You would be surprised how many times assumptions are just flat wrong. What’s that old saying about what assuming does…?
  12. Survey research is your friend. In an effort to be strategic and resourceful, polling is the most helpful. Have it done well, and do it often. It’s important to check the temperature of your campaign. The middle is never like the beginning ,and the end is going to way different if everyone’s doing a good job campaigning. Just don’t overpay for this service.
  13. Don’t sacrifice 1:1 engagement. Phone calls and door knocks are the most important voter engagements you can make. They are also the hardest. Don’t fall prey to thinking you can advertise more to make up for less 1:1 engagements.
  14. Advertise in ways that make sense. Lots of money is spent on TV, radio, print and now-a-days digitally. For most down-ballot campaigns, you have to think more strategically about advertising to have bang for your buck, but don’t do it at the expense of your grassroots.
  15. Really think about digital. In today’s crowded political cycles, cutting through the noise is a seemingly impossible task. It takes good research and decisive judgement to act quickly, yet remain flexible in order to optimize your results.

At Cygnal we do more than just recommend tips. We help you institute them. If you have a data or digital need, we have a solution. No project is too big or too small. Reach out to us today to further increase your chance of winning.