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How To Win Elections

How To Win Elections

On any given day, there will be a story on a US newspaper covering a large political campaign or candidate. They may be using the latest tech, have a fully loaded budget and be backed by some big industry names. The learnings from these larger campaigns sometimes get lost as we trickle down the line to smaller, more locally focused elections, which is a pity.

We have studied many campaigns recently and it is pretty obvious that what works for Federal and State races not only works for local races but actually works even more effectively.

Ciara and Brendan spoke about this in their recent video where they covered 5 core areas that local campaigns can focus on in order to maximise return at the polls.

Local political campaign tips

Political campaign messaging

As a candidate, it’s more or less written in stone that a catchy, positive, political campaign message is a requirement. People (Trump) usually opt for one liners such as “Make America Great Again”, which tapped into a feeling among a large cohort of voters that they had been left behind by the Obama administration. They can be powerful if you connect it to current societal sentiment or even more impactful if you tap into something that the electorate didn’t even know they were angry about yet! The best campaign messaging leads the conversation in society rather than just reacting to what people are thinking.

One of the stronger examples of political messaging we reference in the video is MJ Hegar's 'Doors' campaign. Hegar is a candidate running in District 31 in Texas who is a former war veteran who is part of the new wave of candidates that are being backed by the DCCC this year to capitalise on #BlueWave. Fighting against a Republican incumbent, Hegar gets her messaging on point and is reportedly doing well in appealing to Republican voters also.

Check out the video that went viral early this year below.

Voter targeting

Voter targeting is talked about a lot by large campaigns but can be overlooked in local races. Big budgets aren’t needed to get your targeting correct however. Oftentimes, local elections are won and lost on as little as a 100 votes and when these margins are so tight you need to examine your strong voting areas early on. Check turnout for elections in the last few years and set yourself targets for numbers of voters to contact. Focus primarily on these voters as trying to convince undecided voters can be of limited value to you on election day.

Social media for political campaigns

Social media should be part of every political campaign strategy. The positives completely outweigh the negatives if you are using it correctly. Check out our guide on how to use social here.

Some social media tips for campaigns

  • Social media won’t win you an election but it will be a large contributory factor when attempting to amplify campaign messaging.

  • Social media can be used as starting point when trying to grow support in your area and it is a great way to showcase any community work that you are undertaking. Use images on social media at any available opportunity.

  • Social media will be resource-heavy so make sure and set your parameters early on so as not to waste time.

  • Advertising on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter is far more budget-friendly that TV and radio advertising and is easier to track effectiveness.

Political team onboarding

Small campaigns often consist of the candidate, family and friends, and this is often enough. However, what we recommend to all campaigns is to assess how many people they will need in the week before election to run GOTV, door-knocking, poll-striking, managing social media, events and so on. When you know that number then add 20%. This is the target number of people you want to be volunteering with your campaign in the first few weeks. If you have this group together you will have plenty of time to ensure everyone is trained, on-message, and understands all the tech that you are using. No campaign ever failed because they had too many supporters and volunteers. Also, make team onboarding as simple as possible. No long forms to fill out or crazy 'asks' of volunteers and you should be right.

Ground Game

The evidence is in the studies, canvassing and face to face interaction is what works well for political campaigning. Getting people to the polls on election day is something which campaigns always detail as one of the biggest obstacles they come up against.

Green and Gerber ran a study in 1998 called the New Haven Experiment and it showed that having a conversation with someone would increase the turnout rate by 8% over mail drops and phone calls. Canvassing works exceptionally well when running a local campaign due to the fact that people will already have relationships with candidates. This should make the entire process of having a face to face conversation easier.

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