Category Archives: Political Campaigner

Upcoming SCOTUS Cases

No voter wants their representative to be stuck in yesterday’s news cycle. While many might not realize it, important cases are argued and ruled upon every single day; the Supreme Court alone reviews around 7,000 – 8,000 cases per term. Each of these cases has the potential to spark public interest or open the door to vital legislative reviews, making it vital for any politician worth his office to keep his ear to the ground and take notice of high-profile Supreme Court cases. I find this to be especially important today, given our currently intense political atmosphere.

 

Below, I have listed a couple of important Supreme Court cases currently under review. However, if you wish to delve deeper into these and other current cases, visit the Supreme Court of the United States’ blog for more information.

 

Collins v. Virginia

 

Case Granted: September 28, 2017

Current Status: Pending

 

Context: This case questions whether police officers violated Ray Austin Collins’ fourth amendment rights when they lifted a tarp covering a motorcycle in his driveway during the course of investigation to determine whether the motorcycle was the same one used to elude police detainment on several previous occasions. The officers arrived at Collins’ residence after seeing him violate several traffic laws while riding the motorcycle. After confirming that the motorcycle was the one they had seen, the officers waited for him to return home. Under questioning, the defendant admitted to having bought the vehicle despite knowing that it was stolen.

 

Question at hand: Given that the police crossed onto Collins’ private property and lifted the tarp to confirm the motorcycle without a warrant, should the motorcycle be suppressed as evidence or upheld under the automobile exception to the fourth amendment?

 

Class v. United States

 

Case Granted: February 21, 2017

Current Status: Pending

 

Context: In May of 2013, Rodney Class represented himself to the District of Columbia Circuit and pleaded guilty to possessing three firearms on United States Capitol Grounds. He later appealed this ruling under the argument that his conviction was unconstitutional, though the appellate court affirmed the original guilty ruling.

 

Question at hand: Does a guilty plea bar a defendant from arguing against the constitutionality of his conviction?  
These are only two of many intriguing cases; those who wish to keep current on Supreme Court cases and rulings should bookmark the SCOTUS Blog as a resource. The SCOTUS Blog not only provides a record of cases on and beyond the docket, but also offers informative posts and insights into ruling implications.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Press Conferences

 

Holding a press conference is a little like setting off a flare. Attracted by the noise and the promise of a good story, reporters will flock to your venue in the hopes of finding the next morning’s headlines. These media events serve as useful opportunities to share information and take ownership of potentially inflammatory stories before political rivals or unfriendly foes do. However, like flares, press conferences have the potential to burn a candidate if enacted incorrectly. In this post, I’ve outlined a few of the basic do’s and don’ts of holding press conferences for new candidates.

 

DO

Have a good reason for holding one.

Never hold a press conference to share banal information, and only hold media events when necessary. Reporters’ time is valuable; if media representatives don’t think attending your press conference will lead to a good story, they won’t attend. Save your candidate the potential embarrassment of an empty room by only holding press conferences on subjects you know will draw a crowd. Schedule an event if you need to share big news or if the office phones are ringing non-stop for comment – but find other means of communication for day-to-day news!

 

DON’T

Show up without a plan.

Press conferences place a candidate and/or his representative under intense media scrutiny. An off-the-cuff comment or half-considered remark can dominate the news cycle for days – so prepare appropriately! Have remarks and talking points prepared, and keep any communication brief. Keep in mind that press conferences should never drag on for over 45 minutes.

 

DO

Have a press release and press kit prepared.

If you don’t provide reporters with a narrative about the news you share, they’ll likely dig for one themselves – and you might not like the story they settle on. Make sure that you present members of the media with documents that outline your positions and reasonings in a good light. Candidates should at the very least provide a press release overviewing the news they plan to share – however, putting together a press kit is preferable. Expensive as they are, press kits are useful; they contain background context for the issue at hand, the candidate’s position, argument highlights, related news stories, and biographies of conference speakers.

 

DON’T

Answer unrelated or inflammatory questions

As I mentioned earlier, an unfortunately worded answer can negatively dominate the news cycle for days at a time – and often, reporters try to throw speakers off in order to get a juicy comment. If a media representative asks an unrelated or inflammatory question that has the potential to yank the conference off-track, make sure that the conference moderator shuts down the conversation before it becomes damaging to the task at hand.

 

Remember, the press is an invaluable resource for any candidate – but communication with it must be conducted with careful thought and strategy.

Office Talk: Qualities to Look for in Potential Campaign Staffers

 

Building a campaign team is no small feat. Finding the right people to fill vital roles can be one of the hardest parts of setting up a campaign office; those you hire will have to be prepared to handle the fast-paced schedule and occasionally exhaustive work required to keep the movement organized and on-track. It’s often difficult to gauge whether an interviewee is up to the job they applied for – but they need to display a few basic qualities to pass muster.

 

Tenacity

Campaign staffer can’t wilt at hard work. The jobs in a campaign office often entail long hours, hard work, and sharp deadlines. Those expecting to work a set schedule and take frequent social media breaks will have to look elsewhere for a job. The ideal candidate will understand that the job requires a wholehearted commitment, and will hold steady through the period of the campaign.

 

Flexibility

Even the most organized campaign requires a great deal of flexibility from its staffers. The job often requires travel and late nights. Applicants should know that working a second job or attempting to stick to a set schedule will most likely fall to pieces within a week. Recruiters need to through sort their applicants for people who can commit and have flexible enough schedules to work with a campaign’s intense scheduling needs.

 

Creativity

The best campaign staffers are those who can think outside the box and be creative under pressure. Sometimes, new ideas are just the thing to jumpstart a  static strategy and put new life into engagement efforts. Managers should look for staffers who can be thoughtful and innovative while working productively within the campaign’s organizational structure.

 

Intelligence

Staffers must be intelligent, have excellent instincts, and possess the requisite technical and interpersonal skills for their position. The ideal candidate is able to juggle their responsibilities with poise, intelligence, and charisma, and work productively within the team. The best staffers will face problems rationally, and offer methodical solutions in a timely manner. Moreover, their emotional intelligence must be as sharp as their book smarts; given the interpersonal nature of the job, staffer will often need to engage productively with stressed staffers, argumentative community members, and alert reporters.

 

There’s no doubt about it – picking the right people for positions in a campaign office is difficult. But campaign managers who put in the extra effort to build a strong team will find their work rewarded with a better-organized and more productive office.

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.

How to Make Your Voice Heard

Contacting U.S. elected officials to ask questions and share your opinions is an important element of democracy, but it can often feel like your voice isn’t heard or valued. Representatives are hard to get a hold of during their busy schedules, and a form-letter response you may receive after sending a letter or phone call to their office can make it seem like you aren’t getting your point across. Here’s a list of tips you can use to help make your voice heard by your elected officials.

Visit their Office

It can be hard for your representatives or members of their staff to read and respond to every letter or telephone; after all, since the size of the average congressional district is more than 710,000 people, your letter or call will be one of thousands—perhaps millions—in a year. But while a call or letter can be overlooked, it’s impossible for your representative or their staff to ignore an actual human being in their office. Learn the location of your representatives’ offices and make a point to visit regularly so that you can ensure your voice gets heard and isn’t lost in the shuffle of a busy office.

Join a Group

If there’s an issue that you’re passionate about, do some research and see what groups in your area are working to bend the ear of your representative on that topic. These groups have more of a chance to make contact with representatives or catch their attention since they can leverage the work—and potential votes—of large numbers of people towards a common cause; this makes it easier to broadcast a message since it’s carried by many voices. Your group can visit your representative’s office, attend their town halls, or even invite them to one of your own meetings. Or, if you can’t find a group that’s right for you, go ahead and start one yourself!

Write Letters to the Editor

If you’ve made several attempts to contact your representative but haven’t made any progress, you can consider writing a letter to the editor in a newspaper explaining your view and asking your representative to respond. While you can shoot for a national newspaper like the Wall Street Journal, you have a greater probability of being published in the local paper—plus, since your representative will be concerned with the press coverage they receive within their own district, they’ll also be more inclined to respond to you, either directly or in a follow-up letter of their own.

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.

How to Craft a Campaign Message

If you’re getting into politics as a candidate for office, there’s probably a particular issue that you’re passionate about or that inspires you. This passion is a powerful asset, but it’s not necessarily enough to propel you to a victory on election day: You also need a campaign message that communicates that passion to voters as well as your plans on how to move forward or craft a solution. While crafting a campaign message can be one of the most challenging elements of your campaign process, in my experience, it’s also one of the most important. Take a look at what you can do to craft a strong campaign message!

Identify Your Issue

Before you can develop a message, you need to figure out what your campaign will focus on. This might seem straightforward, but if there are multiple issues at stake in the race or if there is more than one topic you want to discuss, you’ll need to figure out which one is most central to your campaign. While it’s not necessarily a problem if your issue is open-ended or broad, it helps if your issue is specific and clearly defined.

Consider Demographics

Your next step will be to determine the demographics of your community so that you can begin thinking about how to make sure that your message appeals to the voters. For example, if your issue is educational reform and you live in a district where 20 percent of residents are teachers, then that will influence how you frame your campaign message. Understanding demographics helps you understand what issues matter to the voters, how you can persuade voters to support your campaign, and much more.

Write a Draft

Now that you’ve chosen your primary issue and learned about local demographics, it’s time for you to start developing drafts of your campaign message! Ideally, your message will discuss your issue, why it matters or what is at stake by failing to address it, what solutions you propose, and how you will mobilize the voters around the issue.

Test and Revise the Draft

Once you’ve drafted a message, feel free to test it out! If you have the resources, you can hire a pollster to work with voters and see how well they react to the message, or you can simply ask members of your staff who weren’t involved with crafting it to offer their feedback. You shouldn’t feel compelled to change your core beliefs or ideas in response to their answers, but definitely consider rephrasing in order to make your message clearer and more appealing.

Campaign Game Changers: Four Winning Components of a Successful Campaign Plan

If you want to succeed in your political campaign, you need to have a solid plan that will help you win. Candidates who head into campaigning without a concrete strategy and hope to figure things out as they go along do not have a good understanding of how to run a successful campaign. There are various strategies people use while campaigning, but some are more successful than others. Here’s an overview of four strategies that can really help out your campaign plan.

Define your goals

Before you begin writing out your campaign plan, it’s vital that you and your team have a concrete idea of your ultimate goals for your campaign. Obviously you want to win your election, but what do you think needs to be improved in your district? What would you want to change? Where do you stand on hot-button issues? By creating a clear outline of what you want to accomplish and making sure your entire team is on the same page, you’re pushing yourself even closer to success.

Map out your campaign

Once you define your goals, you can map out your campaign plan. Identify major milestones that you’ll need to hit and when you expect to accomplish those. Knowing when you should achieve each step allows you to work toward your goals and break them down in a manageable way that doesn’t seem overwhelming.

Identify your vital supporters

If you learn who your strongest supporters are, you’ll be able to focus on them and find the ones who can influence other voters the most. Spend time growing your voter base and learn how you can use your strong supporters to appeal to other voters. Learn what kind of person you’re aiming to gain support from and use your best supporters to further your campaign.

How to finance

An incredibly important aspect of your campaign is financing it. You can have the best campaign plan in the world, but without enough funds, it’ll be difficult to achieve your goals and succeed in your campaign. Find donors and host fundraising events to raise funds for your campaign, so you can run a successful campaign and not worry about how much it’ll cost.