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Why Grassroots Matters

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As you can tell from the title, I believe grassroots campaigning matters.

To begin, we must define grassroots.

I consider grassroots to be all local or person-to-person efforts of a campaign. Typical elements of grassroots include but are not limited to phone banking and door-to-door activity.

Now, we need to address why that matters.

It matters because a grassroots campaign is the on-the-ground connection between the candidate and the voter.

Grassroots activities actually make a candidate and their message real and tangible to voters.

If you believe that it’s important for your campaign to create a personal connection with your target voters, then you need to devote the necessary time, talent and treasure to make sure your grassroots efforts are effective.

Two important elements of an effective grassroots campaign are the people and your messaging.

Grassroots campaigning empowers supporters and volunteers and shows voters that your candidacy has real-life supporters.

People...

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Why Are You Running for Office?

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The most important question to be able to answer during a campaign is why you’re actually running for office.

Whether or not you’re being asked this question directly, your ability to answer this question with clarity and confidence will be paramount to your campaign’s direction and can lead to your success and failure.

Far too many candidates seem to be caught flat-footed when I ask them why they’re running. Or they have a poor reason like “this is a logical next step in my career” or “I’ve always wanted to do this.”

The amazing thing is that veteran candidates and officeholders and first-time candidates all seem to struggle with this basic question.

If you don’t believe me, simply recall this infamous exchange between Roger Mudd and Senator Ted Kennedy that is still chronicled 35 years after his failed bid for the Presidency.

The key to your response is to be confident, honest and forthright.

The answer to “why...

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Developing an Effective Fundraising Mindset

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Starting out, very few candidates find fundraising easy. Frankly, longtime fundraisers still find it difficult. There’s good reason for this: political fundraising is not easy. The candidates who tend to do the best at it – and ultimately tend to win – develop an effective personal psychology in their approach to fundraising.

Whether we like it or not the amount of money and other resources a campaign can bring to bear has a significant impact on the campaign’s likelihood of winning the election. To be sure, the political environment, the match-up between each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses, and myriad other factors play a role. It also is not always whether a candidate has the most money, but whether a candidate has enough money to do what he or she needs in order to win the election.

For instance, if you are an incumbent U.S. Senator running in a competitive state in an election cycle where your political party is facing a tidal wave of public...

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What Does it Take to Run for Office? More Than You Think.

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The most common question I get from prospective candidates is what will it take to get elected. Most often, they’re asking about money. How much do they need to spend/raise? How much will specific services cost? What is actually necessary to win?

My answer to them usually makes them take pause.

I say, “More than you think.”

Then I always preface my responses with the words “at least.”

For example, if a candidate asks, “how much money do I need to win?” I reply, “At least “X” amount of dollars.”

I do this for a couple of reasons. First, I prefer to give my best estimate without inflating or deflating the answer to give the client what he or she wants to hear. Secondly, I’m making an estimate with the information I have available at that moment. Circumstances can and will change and alter a campaign’s needs.

Candidates, campaign managers, politicos and key supporters need to think differently than just the...

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Rule #1: It’s Not About You

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So, you’ve decided that you want to run for office.

This is a very personal and in depth process where you’re putting your name on the ballot and sacrificing your privacy to help make your community a better place to live, work and raise a family.

It’s your name on the committee, the yard signs, the campaign website, in the newspaper and it’s you who is standing in front of the cameras and audiences expressing your opinions on different issues that face your neighbors.

With all that said, the most important thing for any candidate to remember is that your campaign isn’t about you.

I know, I know. That’s counterintuitive.

If it’s not about you, then why is it my name, my privacy and my reputation on the line?

Campaigns are about the voters, not the candidates.

Because almost every campaign becomes a choice between the candidates running, voters struggle to decide who is the best person to represent their interests.

Every successful candidate...

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Glossary of Media Buying Terms

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The media budget for almost every campaign accounts for the lion’s share of that campaign’s budget. Yet, so many campaigns and even the media consultants they hire treat the media buy as a second thought. They focus on the creative; the glitz and glamour of the shiny ads they hope to put on the airwaves.

When it comes to traditional electronic media – TV and radio – when, where and how you spend your money has a deep impact on your campaign’s overall success.

The media buying operation helps make huge budgetary decisions: reserving airtime early to save you money; buying new airtime without losing your shorts during the heat of the campaign; and just as critically, feeding you important intel as to what the opponent, opposition party, and third-party groups are doing.

Campaigns that understand and maximize the media buying component of their campaign are likely to be more agile in a potentially rapidly changing environment at the end of an election...

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So, You Want to Run for Office: Setting up a Committee

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Every day in America, someone decides that they want to run for local, state or federal office. Regardless of which office they might be seeking, many people don’t quite know where to start.

Because I’ve seen the negative consequences of this play out far too often, I’ve decided to put the basic elements of what you would need in a series of blog posts.

This post focuses on one of the most overlooked needs of a campaign; the setting up of a campaign committee.

Once you’ve decided to run for office, you need to set up a committee for your campaign to raise and spend money. Sometimes this committee must be set up before you raise or spend a penny and sometimes there is a 15 day grace period after your first campaign activity.

If you’re seeking local office, this is usually done at the municipal building or county board of elections. For state office, you file the necessary paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office. At the federal level, you...

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