Category Archives: campaign manager

4 Concerns that Every Aspiring Candidate Must Overcome

We all aspire to change our communities for the better; to right the wrongs we perceive in the places we call home. On the local level, perhaps we want to push for better schools. On the national, a better tax system. Regardless of the specifics, every candidate enters into the political ring with the determination to enact a specific change for the better. In our current gossip-laden political culture, it’s often all too easy to forget the determination and bravery pushing an agenda to a skeptical public requires; the task can seem more than a little daunting to those with minimal political experience. That said, running for office is nevertheless a productive step for those who have ideas and passion enough to see them implemented. Below, I’ve listed four concerns that every aspiring candidate will need to overcome in order to succeed in their political endeavors.

 

Inexperience in Politics

A successful career in politics doesn’t need to begin with a degree in government from an Ivy League school or an internship with a high-flying Senator. While connections and packed resumes certainly help establish authority, candidacies are built on ideas. Moreover, the stereotype of the common “lawyer-politician” is becoming increasingly hollow; according to research from Harvard Law School, the number of lawyers in politics has dropped from 60% in 1960 to under 40% in 2016. While those without backgrounds in law or government are fewer than those who do in the Senate and House, it is possible for those from other fields to achieve high political office. Now more than ever, message and personality takes precedence over resume on the campaign trail.

 

That said, those interested in running for public office should consider volunteering and networking with campaign veterans to get a better understanding of what running a successful campaign entails before launching themselves into a race.

 

Cultivating a Message

Candidates need a strong message that appeals to voters. Relatively brief, this platform should highlight a candidate’s strengths and preferability without seeming boastful or critical of an opponent. Most importantly, it must be consistent; a recent Stanford University study found that voters tend to punish candidates who “flip-flop” on issues, and that they often refuse to acknowledge a candidate’s new position even after politicians disavow their previous ideas. Candidates need to seem stalwart and trustworthy if they want to succeed!

 

Launching a Fundraising Campaign

No candidate enjoys spending hours upon hours fundraising, but the efforts are necessary. Campaigns need money to run; according to Campaign Finance Institute’s analysis of Federal Election Commission, an average senatorial race cost over $10 million in 2016. The expense, of course, will vary depending on the office, but the need for fundraising skills will always remain.

 

Steering Clear of Negative Politics

Sometimes television has it wrong. The day-to-day workings of a political office are far less Machiavellian than some films might suggest; however, some aspiring politics still fear being drawn into the so-called “dark” side of politics. However, that distaste for corruption and machination is exactly what voters want in an honest candidate. No candidate needs to sink into dirty politics in order to get ahead!

 

Launching a campaign demands effort, determination, and passion from political newcomers and veterans alike. Those who have ideas to better their communities and the drive to see them implemented should make their voices heard by throwing their proverbial hat into the ring. Obstacles abound on the campaign trail – but successful politicians have the tenacity to overcome any barriers in their path to leadership.

 

Age Restrictions & Requirements in Politics (A Global Look)

How old does a leader need to be to have our trust? The answer varies across nations; some say the voting age of 18 is old enough even for a president. Others urge caution and set the age bar  as high as forty. Oftentimes, elected offices in regional and local offices also have determinations for how old a candidate must be before presenting themselves as a candidate. Differences aside, all nations lay out specific requirements for their leaders. I outline just a few of the nation-specific guidelines that aspiring leaders must adhere to in the post below.

 

Canada:

All candidates who seek public office must be at least 18 to run in an election. The exception to this is for senators, who must be at least 30 and own a minimum of $4,000 worth of land in their appointed province. Candidates must additionally possess property or assets valued at $4,000 more than their totaled debts and liabilities.

 

Current President: Justin Trudeau, age 45. Trudeau is the second-youngest president in Canada’s history behind Joe Clark, who was sworn into office on the eve of his 40th birthday.

 

France

In France, presidential candidates must be at least 18 years old. Interestingly, this is below the 24 years required of a senatorial candidate.

Current President: Emmanuel Macron, age 39. Macron is the youngest president in France’s history.

 

Germany

Candidates for the German presidency must be at least 40 years old at the time of their candidacy. All other local, regional, and national elected positions require their candidates to be 18 and over.

 

Current President: Frank-Walter Steinmeier, age 61

Current Prime Minister: Angela Merkel, age 63

 

United States

Presidential and vice-presidential candidates must be at least 35 to run for office. The requirement stands at 30 for senators and 25 for representatives. On the regional level, states set their own rules regarding age specifications for positions such as the governorship. Usually, though, these candidates are required to be 18 or 21 in order to run.

 

Current President: Donald Trump, age 71

 

United Kingdom

Excepting Scotland (whose age limit is set at 16), candidates must be at least 18 years of age to run for all parliamentary, assembly, and council positions. This rule applies not only to national-level UK positions, but also to those at European, devolved, or local level. The age for candidacy was 21 until 2006, when it was officially lowered by the Electoral Administration Act.

 

Current Prime Minister: Theresa May, age 61

 

Who Now? The Importance of Name Recognition

 

Over the course of a campaign, volunteers and staffers alike spend hundreds of working hours pounding the pavement. They knock on doors, talk over voter outreach tables, and even make cold calls to people who are more likely to hang up than listen beyond that first hopeful greeting. It’s exhausting, stressful, and difficult work – and for many volunteers, utterly worth the trouble.

 

Most campaign workers don’t take up their roles for the pay and an extra line on their resumes; they sign on because they truly believe in a candidate’s values and leadership potential. With such a focus on reaching potential voters, the last thing that an exhausted, optimistic campaign worker wants to hear after floating their candidate’s name to a voter is: Who? Never heard of them.

 

Name recognition matters, and any candidate worth their campaign pin knows that they can’t afford to dismiss it. It sounds intuitive: voters trust those they find familiar. According to a 2011 study conducted by researchers at Princeton University, voters who enter the voting booth without a significant understanding of how candidates’ positions align with their own are more likely to opt for the most familiar name. Think about that for a moment – in a community of less- or moderately-involved voters, a greater awareness of a name could actually define the outcome of an election.   

 

That said, this finding hinges on the assumption that voters won’t do their research before heading to the ballot box. Let’s consider the issue optimistically, and ask – does the value of name recognition still hold true if voters are engaged?

 

The short answer is yes – but not in the same way. The ideal voter does their homework, and moves towards the candidate whose positions align well with their own; but at the end of the day, they choose a person, not a laundry list of political issues. Generally, people tend to vote for people they feel they know – and for some, “knowing” a candidate can be as simple as exchanging a smile or handshake after a speech. Name recognition goes beyond simply recognizing the name, and becomes a recognition of the person and personality behind the name. It’s difficult to put faith in a distant persona; voters gravitate to those they feel they have connected with. Thus, name recognition opens the door to voter trust.

 

With this in mind, it’s easy to see that the work those tireless campaign staffers do is vital to creating a healthy campaign. At its core, political elections are human efforts – it isn’t enough to just push an agenda or position. Campaigns also need to focus on helping voters connect to the person behind the name; to trust that the candidate they vote for will represent them well.

Office Talk: 8 Key Roles in a Campaign Office

A campaign is often defined by a single person – but it takes the help of considerably more to run well. Depending on the size of the effort, campaign staff sizes can vary from a few dozen to a few thousand paid and volunteer workers. Successful political campaigns rely on the dedication and effort provided by their workers. However, even the most eager staff needs leadership to function effectively; rampant disorganization can tank a campaign effort just as quickly as a painful media misstep. The following are a few of the most vital managing positions necessary to build a strong, effective campaign office.

 

Campaign Manager

The best campaign manager acts as the glue that holds the various pieces of the campaign together. Anyone who takes on the job must be able to juggle responsibilities under pressure; tasked as they are with managing day-to-day operations, hiring, communicating with the candidate, and implementing fundraising efforts, a campaign manager can’t afford to be disorganized. Excellent interpersonal skills and charisma are a must.

 

Communications Director

A person in this position must feel comfortable around the press. A campaign’s communications director is responsible for building a positive relationship with the media, drafting campaign communications and literature, and establishing press opportunities for the candidate. Ideally, a director will already have a significant number of media connections that they can use to further the campaign’s reach.

 

Fundraising Director

A campaign needs money to make progress – and the Fundraising Director is responsible for making sure that it never grinds to a halt. A staffer in this role must prepare and oversee all fundraising events, and make sure that the candidate is meeting their fundraising goals.

 

Field Director

A person in this position is responsible for organizing direct voter contact and outreach efforts. They must develop an effective strategy for identifying and convincing undecided voters to cast ballots for their candidate. A person selected for this role must be high-energy, and able to effectively organize volunteers, staff, and tremendous amounts of data on a daily basis.

 

Legal Advisor

A campaign’s legal advisor makes certain that the campaign is safely within legal bounds at all times.

 

Political Director

The ideal political director seeks to communicate positively with a diverse array of constituencies, as well as to forge relationships with the organizations which represent them. Additionally, they must work in tandem with the field director to build and implement outreach plans with the goal of expanding a candidate’s support base.

 

Scheduler

A candidate’s schedule is demanding, and can be chaotic if improperly handled. The campaign’s scheduler is tasked with ensuring the candidate is briefed and ready for events, and is further responsible for accepting, declining, and seeking out potential appearance opportunities.

 

Office Manager

There’s no avoiding it – campaigns can be hectic. The Office Manager is responsible for making sure that the office itself is well-run even as the campaign erupts into freneticism. The staffer appointed to this position makes sure that the office is well-staffed, supplied, and organized on a day-to-day basis.
These are only a few of the many positions required for a smoothly-run campaign; but without even one of these leaders, even the most well-meant efforts would undoubtedly fall into disorganized chaos. Maintaining excellent leadership, dedication, and organization is key to successful political efforts.

Political Fundraising 101

Elections are a multi-billion dollar business. In fact, in 2016, candidates for all federal offices spent more than $6.8 billion in the hopes of getting elected. Before candidates could rack up campaign expenses of that size, however, they had to raise all the money. As a veteran of countless campaigns, I know just how challenging fundraising can be for any candidate, from presidential hopefuls to small-town mayors. If you’re trying to improve fundraising for your campaign but don’t know where to start, take a look at this list of potential strategies.

Minimize Costs

Ironically, fundraising costs money; as a result, you’ll need to dedicate a portion of the money that you bring in to pay for the costs of your fundraising efforts. With that in mind, try to reduce the amount that you spend on fundraising in order to increase the amount of money that you have to spend on the actual campaign. Perhaps instead of having your next rally or reception catered, you can have a cookout or even a potluck with your supporters in order to shrink the bill.

Set Various Tiers for Events

Try as you might, you won’t be able to finance your campaign solely by hosting $500-per-head dinners. Instead, you’ll need to diversify your fundraising efforts, which you can do by creating different categories of events that target different classes of donors. For example, you can design a suite of VIP events—like formal dinners or cocktail receptions—that target high-value donors, and at the same time, you can develop initiatives that engage a broader audience but generate smaller contributions, like social media or direct-mail campaigns. This way, you’ll be able to run fundraising efforts simultaneously by targeting multiple groups, and you’ll prevent yourself from tapping out a certain donor base by putting all of your fundraising eggs in one basket.

Leverage Relationships

People don’t like to be cold called, let alone cold called and asked for money. It’s far more effective to reach out to a potential donor with whom you have an existing relationship or connection. When you begin your fundraising efforts, make a list of all the potential high-value donors that you have a relationship with and ask your staff to do the same. Reach out to these individuals first: You can use your relationship or connection with them to ask for a contribution or to ask if they can put you in touch with their friends or colleagues who might be interested in supporting your campaign. In doing so, you can cultivate an entire network of engaged donors who feel personally connected—and, with any luck, invested—to your campaign.

Political Polling: An Introduction

When you watch or read the news, you often encounter a myriad of statistics describing the public’s attitude on any number of issues or events: 56% of the country supports a bill currently before Congress. 48% of Americans want reform on a given issue. 61% of voters approve of a speech given by a major candidate. You may be wondering where all of these statistics come from, and the answer is simple: polling.

Public opinion polls have been staples of political campaigns for decades. The first opinion poll was conducted in 1824 by a Pennsylvania newspaper and showed Andrew Jackson ahead of John Quincy Adams in that year’s race for the White House; Jackson went on to win the popular vote but lose the election. Unlike the straw polls that predicted a win for Jackson, today’s polls are highly sophisticated and can forecast electoral victories, describe public opinion, and more while controlling for various factors, including age, gender, education, race, socioeconomic status, and so much more.

The complexity of modern polling requires thorough planning before a poll is even put into the field. This begins with the question of the poll’s purpose: What information do you want to learn, or what attitude do you want to measure? Will the poll guide your campaign’s strategy or is it simply intended to take the public’s temperature? Furthermore, it’s vital to consider the poll’s audience—will it be for the candidate’s eyes only or for public consumption? And, of course, you’ll need to develop the language for the questions you’ll be asking, which can be a difficult task.

There are also various mediums of polling, so political operatives and pollsters must consider the most effective medium to structure and conduct polls. While telephone-based polls were the standard method of polling for much of the twentieth century, they’re much less of an viable option today since fewer and fewer people actually answer their phones. Instead, many of today’s polls take place online, which are radically less expensive and faster. Online polls can offer campaigns a wide range of additional options, but they do present their own challenges, including issues with surveying representative samples of the population in order to achieve the most accurate results.

Despite the challenges and investment of effort required to conduct polling, however, most candidates and strategists agree that polling is an invaluable asset for any campaign. If you don’t believe that, we’d be happy to put a poll together to prove it.

The Art of Campaign Ads

The ultimate idea of a political campaign is to engage communities. Candidates give speeches, for example, that they hope will resonate with their constituents-to-be and inspire them to vote. Today, thanks to the proliferation of new technology, there are more ways than ever to engage members of the public through avenues like social media, the internet, and of course, campaign ad videos.

These videos, which are typically about a minute long, allow candidates to present their position or attitude on an issue, discuss their philosophy, and speak directly to voters. One of the many benefits of campaign ads are their tremendous reach: In presidential elections, for example, campaign ads can reach as many as 87 percent of American adults, which makes them an invaluable medium for candidates who want their message to reach the largest audience possible.

Campaign videos first came onto the political scene during the 1950s, as more and more Americans were bringing television sets into their homes; in 1952, Dwight D. Eisenhower became the first presidential candidate to incorporate video ads into his campaign, and they were wildly successful.

Since the 50s, the popularity, scale, and scope of campaign videos has increased dramatically. Today, they are a fixture of races at every level, from presidential contests to local elections and even referendums or ballot initiatives. In fact, Lincoln Strategy Group develops campaign ads for its clients, including these two videos which were designated Gold Winners in the 2017 AVA Digital Awards.

We were honored to receive these accolades for our work, but beyond that, we were particularly proud that we were able to present such a strong articulation of our clients’ message, whether it was in support of clean energy initiatives in Nevada or for quality leadership in Arizona. And we’re happy to say that both campaigns were successful!

While there are myriad approaches to producing a political campaign ad, many voters tend to dislike ads that “go negative,” or deliver ad hominem attacks against specific candidates. Instead, voters prefer positive or optimistic ads, such as President Ronald Reagan’s 1984 campaign ad, “Prouder, Stronger, Better,” more commonly known as “Morning in America.” It remains one of the most celebrated campaign ads in American political history.

Before the Oval Office: The Careers of Former Presidents before Politics

A candidate for President of the United States is expected to have a wide range of expertise, knowledge, and leadership experience if they hope to win election to the highest office in the land. But how exactly does a president-to-be go about accumulating the necessary experience to hold the job? Is there a precise formula of work history, education, and civic engagement that brings on a win in the electoral college? Not exactly—in fact no two presidents’ former careers are the same. Take a look at the careers of several former presidents before they ascended to the Oval Office.

George W. Bush (2001-2009)

After service in the Air Force, in 1977, Bush founded an oil exploration company called Arbusto Energy that was later renamed Bush Exploration. The company then merged with Spectrum 7, another oil company, and Bush subsequently became Spectrum 7’s Chairman and CEO. In 1986, Harken Energy Corporation bought Spectrum 7; Bush was appointed to Harken’s Board of Directors, a post which he held until 1993.

Bush also famously purchased a controlling interest in the Texas Rangers in 1989, and he served as the managing general partner for five years. He was a common face at many games where he enjoyed sitting in the stands with fans.

Ronald Reagan (1981-1989)

Following his graduation from Eureka College in 1932, Reagan moved to Iowa and found work as a radio personality and announcer for Chicago Cubs games. While traveling with the Cubs in California, Reagan began his career as an actor by signing a seven-year screen contract with Warner Brothers Studios.

By 1939, he had appeared in 19 films, and thanks to his performance as George Gipp in 1940’s Knute Rockne, All American, Reagan earned the lifelong nickname of “The Gipper.” His favorite role, and perhaps his most famous, was as double-amputee Drake McHugh in the 1942 film King’s Row. In 1947, he was elected President of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and he was reelected to the position seven times.

Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961)

Eisenhower attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army after graduating. He served at bases across the country as well as in the Panama Canal Zone and the Philippines. During World War II, he was promoted to the role of Supreme Allied Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe, where he planned the invasion of Normandy and oversaw Allied operations until Germany’s eventual surrender in 1945.

After World War II, Eisenhower served as President of Columbia University in New York City. In 1948, he returned to active military service as the first Supreme Allied Commander Europe of the newly-formed North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

How to Discuss Politics on Social Media

It’s often said that there are two topics you should never discuss at the dinner table–religion and politics–in order to keep conversations civil and polite. Social media users never got that memo, however: According to a study published by the Pew Research Center, more than 30% of social media users feel “worn out” by politically-oriented posts, and over half of them characterize digital interactions with people of opposing political viewpoints as “stressful and frustrating.”

Political conversations on social media become even more likely for people like me who have made careers out of politics and campaigning, so you quickly learn how to turn these moments from stressful and frustrating to rewarding and informative. Take a look at some ways that you can responsibly and politely discuss politics on social media!

Consider Your Purpose

Whenever you post on social media, whether it’s about politics or not, there’s a reason behind each post. You might share a photo from your vacation to let everyone know you had a great time on the beach, for example, or you might want to post a status inviting people to an event you’re hosting. When you post about politics, keep your goal in mind. Are you trying to raise awareness of a particular issue? Are you trying to declare your support for a candidate or a policy? Are you trying to change people’s minds or to see what they have to say? So, before you post, think about the purpose of the post and how you can best communicate it.

Stick to the Facts

The best political arguments–as in arguments that are well-constructed and well-phrased–rely on evidence to support their claims. If you refer to the dangers of a certain proposed bill, for example, make sure that you have the most up-to-date information about it and that you’re laying out that information for your digital audience. One of the best ways to do this is by including links to articles, videos, statistics, and other sources in your post so that people can educate themselves on the issues.

Never Make it Personal

If people are already going to be agitated when they encounter political posts on social media, you don’t want to fan that fire by insulting them. Don’t fall into the trap of calling someone stupid just because they don’t understand or agree with you and avoid blanket statements like “Anyone who supports Senator Smith is an idiot.” While these comments might momentarily inflate your ego, talking down to someone who disagrees with your point of view doesn’t help spread your message or convince people to change their minds. Instead, being insulted will only make people dig in their heels and turn what could have been a positive discussion into a screaming match about politics.

Of course, it’s OK to disagree with someone’s opinion and to tell them so, but don’t do it by insulting them. Always keep your focus on what they have to say about the facts, and avoid typing out of anger.

Join Private or Closed Groups

One way to ensure political conversations never get out of hand is to keep these discussions to small circles of informed, respectful individuals. Consider creating a private group and inviting people you trust to ensure that people will remain cordial even when opposing viewpoints are being discussed. You can add more people to the group as time goes on, but starting off with a select few will give you an opportunity to share ideas in a respectful space while also developing your skills discussing politics on social media.

The Importance of Local Politics

If you walk up to someone and ask them to name the President of the United States, they’ll be able to answer your question in the blink of an eye. If you ask them to name their congressional representative or their senator, however, you might be faced with blank stares, and some people may be unable to answer. Ironically, in fact, as you ask people to name their local officials–their state senators or legislators, their city councilmen, and so on–they have a harder and harder time responding.

For a nation that was founded on the idea of citizens’ direct access to representatives, this lack of awareness about local officials is ironic. After all, while their jurisdictions may be smaller than that of presidents and senators, local officials arguably have more influence in people’s daily lives than commanders in chief. Of course, presidents and national leaders have much more of an ability to set the political agenda, but local officials have a tremendous power of their own in terms of how they deliver government services to citizens.

For example, does it matter more that the president signs a bill into law strengthening police forces, or does it matter more that your mayor and city council get to decide how to spend money on the police and how many officers patrol your neighborhood on a daily basis? And while senators may campaign on the importance of creating jobs, local officials play a role as well by offering incentives to attract new businesses to town and by passing laws, such as ordinances and zoning codes, that can determine what jobs are available in their communities.

This actually gives local politicians surprising influence during state or national elections. As a result of their work to provide government services to citizens, mayors, city council representatives, sheriffs, and other local leaders develop strong relationships with voters, which they can use to mobilize those voters in support or against particular candidates for higher office; therefore, mayors can offer state or national-level candidates important endorsements and help energize voters to go out and volunteer for them as well.

Local politics may lack the glamor and spotlight of national campaigns, but despite this, local politics play a pivotal role in the operations of the government and nationwide elections. President Ronald Reagan once remarked of America’s local communities, “That’s where miracles are made, not in Washington, D.C.,” and there are thousands of mayors, state legislators, sheriffs, and other local officials who would surely agree with him.