Why You Should Campaign Like Neel Kashkari

Guest post by Matthew P.

Today, the GOP candidate for Governor of California, Neel Kashkari, released a documentary video and accompanying WSJ op-ed detailing his experiences as a homeless man in Fresno.  He stepped off of a Greyhound bus, clean-shaven and presentable, with $40 in his pocket, a backpack with some supplies, and the clothes on his back. His goal was to spend a week living the life of a homeless man, in search of a job. Some people journey overseas on a mission of self-discovery; Mr. Kashkari didn’t have to travel as far.

Mr. Kashkari’s journey stands out as a supreme example of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes, complete with some reflections about what he has taken for granted over the years.  To his credit, this is not the first time he has embraced the poor.  Throughout the primary campaign, he slept in homeless shelters and worked picking produce.  He also paid numerous visits to churches and schools in poor neighborhoods. Many credit this unconventional approach for his come-from-behind primary victory.

The video and op-ed document his undercover experience, complete with his sleeping on park benches, eating at a church mission, and relying on the goodness of strangers to sustain him. The video is worth a watch, and I encourage you to read the op-ed as well. Much of it is oriented toward California’s current economic disorder, but the lessons are palpable.

In the course of writing this blog, we see many examples of good things candidates are doing. Earlier, we praised Rand Paul’s speeches at historically black colleges and universities, along with other efforts to take his message to ears who wouldn’t necessarily hear it in their normal course of life. That may require a few visits to hostile territory, but we encourage you, dear reader, to try it. Respectfully engage people who you may not agree with. Spend less time at Lincoln Day Dinners and more time speaking to ordinary people.

Athletes say, “practice like you play,” and we say, “campaign like you would govern.” It will help you build empathy and credibility among people you will one day serve as an elected official. Here, we roundly discourage the divisive “rile your base with red meat, and turn ‘em out” style of campaigning simply because, while it may win you one election, that model is very bad for your long-term prospects of governing.

Much criticism has been piled on Mr. Kashkari for his background in finance and his wealth. Sometimes candidates counter this kind of criticism de rigeur by discussing their charitable activities, and by doing community service on the campaign trail.  And, if you are the kind of person who has a charitable background and have legitimate involvement in community service organizations, then by all means let that part of your character shine. Mr. Kashkari has a strong history of service, but by taking some time to experience the hardships of poverty, he took the opportunity to build a better sense of the daily lives of these he would like to serve. Plus, he can legitimately build credibility while learning.

Now, we do not expect you, dear reader, to try homelessness for a week. But we do encourage you to take some time and reflect on how your past hardships have helped you to become the person you are.  If your background contains periods of hardship, dredge up those memories, as painful as they can be, and use those episodes to help explain your positions to the voters. Let your human side show. Voters yearn for authenticity, and have richly rewarded candidates who deliver.

In the end, half of all candidates end up losing. Perhaps this isn’t the time for Mr. Kashkari. But he, and you, dear reader, should take a longer view.  Campaigns are long and grueling. Campaigning takes you from your family, and saps your finances and energy. So, please take your time running for office seriously, and do your best to make yourself a better person along the way. It will pay dividends once the voting is done, win or lose.

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Republicans: Who We Are

Governor Andrew Cuomo tells conservatives to get out of New York

Here in the great state of New York, our governor, Andrew Cuomo, kind of put his foot in his mouth recently.  I’m not a journalist, so I’m not going to report the story to you, but you can listen to the whole thing here.  But here’s the important part of what he said:

“You have a schism in the Republican Party.  The Republican Party is searching for an identity.  They’re searching to define their soul.  Is the Republican Party in this state a moderate party, or is it an extreme conservative party?  That’s what they’re trying to figure out…the gridlock in Washington is less about Democrats and Republicans, it’s more about extreme Republicans and moderate Republicans.  The moderate Republicans can’t figure out how to deal with the extreme Republicans, and the moderate Republicans are afraid of the extreme conservative Republicans…their problem is not me and the Democrats.  Their problem is themselves.  Who are they?  Are they these extreme conservatives who are Right to Life?  Pro-assault weapons?  Anti-gay?  Is that who they are?  Because if that’s who they are, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.”

After this part he discusses some specific state issues, makes up some really, really bizarrely fake statistics, and kinda sorta endorses ‘moderate’ Republicans in general.  As you can imagine, conservatives all over the Empire State are riled up.  I could write a whole other post on how Mr. Cuomo could have more eloquently and less offensively made his point (which has been completely missed by all the media, it would seem), but I’m not here to solve his problems (although Peggy Noonan did a good job of it here).  I’m here to solve yours. At the end of this diatribe, Cuomo poses a really pointed question.  A question every Republican has asked themselves more than once over the past decade–

“Who are the Republicans?  And who wins between the extreme conservatives and the moderates?”

And if you’re running for office in 2014, this is the perfect time to ponder this question, because the success of everything you do from this point on – developing a campaign messaging strategy especially – rests on how you answer this question for yourself, and how firmly you’re willing to stand by that answer. Let’s take a look at the history of the GOP, shall we?

Technically, there have been two Republican parties in our nation’s history, and the first one cropped up in the 1790s when the founding fathers were still on the political scene as the Democratic-Republican Party (basically, Thomas Jefferson’s anti-Federalist party).  The party’s philosophy was much more nebulous than would be acceptable as a party platform these days, but generally revolved around Jefferson’s concept of “republicanism” which, by his definition, narrowly focused on the themes of liberty and equality.

“The republican is the only form of government which is not eternally at open or secret war with the rights of mankind.” –Thomas Jefferson

After the Federalist Party petered out and the Era of Good Feelings began, the Democratic-Republican Party faded away as well. Though the first Republican Party became obsolete, the principles behind it–freedom and equality–were the same values that prompted abolitionist political leaders to form the Republican Party that still exists today.  Abraham Lincoln is, famously, the first Republican president.  And is there a greater national representative for freedom and equality?

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” – Abraham Lincoln

Along the way, we’ve had a few truly legendary men to serve as bastions for the GOP.  But here’s the funny thing–the coolest Republicans have never fallen in lockstep with a boilerplate political platform.  They set new standards.  They think of republican principles first, and only after that do they define Republican platforms.  Teddy Roosevelt was an environmentalist, for example.  That’s not a value typically assigned to the Republican platform, but it should be noted it was there.

“I am an American; free born and free bred, where I acknowledge no man as my superior, except for his own worth, or as my inferior, except for his own demerit.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

Freedom, for our nation as a value but also for  individuals, is the one common thread that has held the Republican Party together for decades.  In his later years, when the issue was thrust onto the national political agenda, Barry Goldwater–the conservative standard-bearer Barry Goldwater–became an advocate for gay rights.  Some people think maybe he was off his rocker toward the end.  I think he understood the republican value that my rights only extend so far as they do not infringe on another man’s freedom.

“Equality, rightly understood as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences; wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism.” – Barry Goldwater

So when you’re determining your campaign’s key issues, when you’re interacting with voters–especially those who don’t completely agree with you–and when you’re trying to decide what “type” of “Republican” you’re going to be, please remember Thomas Jefferson’s original vision for what it means to be republican.

“I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts.” – Ronald Reagan

So what is the answer to Mr. Cuomo’s question?  Lincoln said “a house divided against itself cannot stand,” and that’s just as true today as it was when our nation was ripping itself in two.  Will the Republican Party split itself out of existence, leaving only moderate Democrats and Socialists to run the country?  Or will we find some common ground to stand on?  If you intend to be a candidate for office this year, no matter how big or small, you are an integral part of answering that question.

What kind of Republican will you be?  Hopefully one who thinks for himself.  Don’t allow yourself to be trapped by terms like “conservative,” “establishment,” “Tea Party,” and so on.  You can be a part of those things without being a slave to them.

“The ultimate determinate in the struggle now going on for the world will not be bombs and rockets but a test of wills and ideas – a trial of spiritual resolve; the values we hold, the beliefs we cherish and the ideas to which we are dedicated.” – Ronald Reagan

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Political Technology: Why You Probably Shouldn’t Care

Quick story:

One fine day, I was managing a campaign for a typical Republican candidate in a slightly left-leaning district when, about 48 hours before Election Day, I was informed that I’d need to take 30 of my volunteers off important jobs like phone banking, door-knocking, and giving voters a ride to the polls, and have them sit in the polling stations next to the Big Book of Registered Voters, using their cell phones to tick off the names of the Republicans who came in to vote for some new technological doo-hickey thingamabobber…apparently the state party had put this all together for all the Republican candidates.  I still don’t know what it was, because it probably hasn’t been used since.

Anywho, I tried to cobble together some kids to do this incredibly boring task, but when E-Day came, I had better things to do and, whoops, apparently my race was the ONLY one not popping up numbers on their fancy new thingy they probably spent WAAAY too much money on, and boy did I get an unprofessionally worded phone call from my napoleonic boss!

Oh, but I won that race.  By a significant margin.  And you know who didn’t win?  Every. Other. Republican. In the state.  Well, running for a contentious seat in the state legislature.  We lost a ton of seats that year.

And what did I get for my insubordinate success?

you're fired political campaign

Except Trump is way better looking than my then boss.

But I was like –

Whatever political campaign

Whatevs, sucka.

And I moved to DC and never looked back.  Luckily, this experience was on-the-job learning gold.  After that, I had a whole new set of rules and tools that helped me avoid future techno mistakes.

So without further ado, here are the 5 rules of political technology:

  1. Don’t be distracted by shiny new gadgets or digital online thingies that promise to make Election Day run smoothly and give you the biggest win since GW the original was nearly crowned king of the USA.  
  2. Facebook likes and re-tweets are not votes.  And they never will be.  Even national level candidates still need to learn this fact.  I’ve actually seen campaign plans that based their numbers on the idea that maybe they were.
  3. If it’s not already in the budget, don’t spend money on it.  
  4. Yes, there are a few ‘technologies’ that you should invest in, the first being a website.  But not a $3,000 website some scheister tries to sell you on.  One your teenage son makes for you for like $10 a month through Hostgator (like this one!) and then uses to double as his final project for computer class.  You should have a presence on Facebook and Twitter because it’s fun and it’s free and it’s a great way to communicate, but it is NOT worth spending ‘real’ time or money on.
  5. Don’t let the state party, local party, a special interest group, or any other entity or person outside your campaign push you into spending time or money on something that’s not in your campaign plan.  You may be a Republican, but that does not make you beholden to them!
  6. Bonus rule!  You are running for county commissioner (or an equally local race), dude.  You do not need some crazy start up business sending texts on your behalf to every cell phone in your area code!  Do not pay for that $h*t!
At this point you are thinking, “Great!  I now know to be leery of political technology.  But I’m really not sure what that is.”  Ah, well, I’m glad you brought that up!  The term ‘political technology’ doesn’t really have a definition yet, but what you’re on the lookout for is -
  • anything online, including email and online fundraising
  • anything on cell phones, like apps voters can have on their phones, or texting services.
  • most things that give you ‘data’ that you can’t somehow dig up yourself, like a voter database.

These are the types to avoid, at least, because at the local level they’re really not worth the money.  If you’re in a really hot race and they really are worth the time and money, I guarantee a friendly special interest group will be more than happy to shell out the cash and manpower to make it happen.  If they aren’t willing to pay for it themselves, it’s probably not worth paying for.

In conclusion, while technological advances have definitely changed the way campaigns are run and won at the congressional and presidential levels, they simply don’t make much of an impact below that point yet in most of the country.  In more urban areas, *free* technology (not specifically political in nature, however) like Facebook has proven to be a method of breaking through the noise to get some attention, but still has no real impact on election results.  Stick to the basics, the methods that have worked from our nation’s Day 1, and you’ll carve out a clear path to victory.

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Why You Should Campaign Like Rand Paul

Guest post!  Here’s some sage advice from former City Councilman Matthew P.  Enjoy!


Rand Paul at Howard University


“The highest form of success comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these, wins splendid triumph.”
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech before the Hamilton Club, Chicago April 10, 1899


I am not normally one to heap praise on any one politician in particular, but I will always point out good campaigning when I see it.  Rand Paul’s recent visit to Howard University is one of the best campaign moves I’ve seen in a very long time. He demonstrated why, at least once a month during your campaign, you should speak to a group of people who are normally aligned with the other side. By reaching out to people who aren’t part of your base, you do four things that will serve you well in the short and long run:

1. You bring the positive power of your ideas to a group of people who have only heard from your detractors.
2. You exercise your rhetorical muscles.
3. You build alliances with community groups.
4. You show that, although you may differ in some areas, the ties that bind us are stronger than our differences.


Most campaign advice that is dished out (on both sides of the aisle) follows this basic path:



This is darn good advice for winning, but lousy advice for governing.

My advice to you is simpler: Campaign like you would govern; meet with and listen to any opposition group who will sit down with you. Note I don’t say speak to or lecture. This is about listening and togetherness.

After President Obama’s reelection, his staff bragged on their massive voter ID and turnout efforts. And truthfully, he won because his ground game was better than Mitt Romney’s.  But he is struggling to govern because of the narrow way he campaigned. Had he engaged a broader swath of the public, and not demonized his opponents, he would probably be getting more done.

A light read of political history will show that people tend to vote like their parents voted, groups are continually dominated by one party or the other, and stasis is the normal course. However, read closer and you will find dozens of examples of individuals who personified their party and changed history. Insurgent candidates from Lincoln to Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower, or Reagan bucked party convention in one way or many. Each of these candidates (and Democrats too – Kennedy, Clinton) had just enough flavor of the other side in their platform and personality that they related to people outside of their natural sphere. This wasn’t by accident. Each of these Presidents spent time on the “other side” in one way or another. TR was a “westerner” born and raised in Manhattan; Reagan was a union president.

Broaden your base
The dirty little secret is, if you lead they will follow – your base is not the same as your party’s base. Examine your background and know where you fit in the bigger picture. If you’re a former firefighter or teacher running for office, you may be able to garner union supporters. If you have been active in supporting anti-poverty causes, you may have alliances in some populist groups. In every case, strong people with strong personalities and clear vision define political parties in America, not the other way around.


With that in mind, you need to go out there and define what it means to be Republican in America today. Remember that if you don’t tell people who you are, your opponent will.  You need to bring your message to new ears, not just to advance your cause, but because you believe that your solutions are the right ones for these times, and you need everyone’s support. If not their support, then reaching out may at least earn their respect.


Practice making your case
Primarily, you should speak to challenging groups during your campaign for the same reason that you should exercise your muscles.  Easy crowds lead to flabby arguments, and they don’t challenge you in any way. I don’t know anyone who left a Lincoln Day dinner better-equipped to convince a skeptical or undecided voter.


If you are speaking to more skeptical groups, you’ll be forced to make the case for your policies.  And, even more, you’ll be forced to make the most simple and agreeable case for yourself. So many times, when you talk to your allies, it’s like starting on second base. But, talking to almost anyone else, you need to build the case, step by step, from the beginning. And you need to do it succinctly and respectfully. That takes practice.


Start by listening, and explain that you are there to listen to their group’s concerns and ideas for your community. Approach the meeting from the perspective that they can win you over. You are, after all, potentially very powerful. If you win, you could make any group’s concerns a government priority. You may not agree on everything, but I guarantee that you will find common ground with any group. Even if you are meeting with a small communist book club, you may bond over a love of reading and community involvement.


You could find some votes in the next room
Once you’ve practiced your arguments and honed your speaking skills, you’ll naturally start attracting broader voter support, because you are gradually practicing yourself into being a better campaigner. So, maybe you don’t win over the communist book club, but the experience will help you to have more successful conversations down the road.


During your campaign, you will speak to dozens, perhaps hundreds, of moderate or friendly groups. This is where the real payoff from your practice comes into action.  All of this practice – building the case from scratch, simplifying arguments, and relating to diverse groups – makes the other parts of the campaign that much easier.


When you go door-to-door, you’ll be better prepared. In a debate, you’ll make your point more succinctly. And you made yourself familiar with a wide variety of issues by meeting with groups of experts.


You will govern better
After you follow my advice and win your election, you’re faced with the much less exciting responsibility of governing. After months of rallying your supporters at campaign events, your new job is to lead. But this will be easy for you, since you’ve spent months in dress-rehearsal for governing.  Professional athletes say “practice like you play,” and this is no different.  Having made yourself familiar with community groups, you can call on their support or champion a piece of their cause as needed during your term. And if you didn’t win them over during the campaign, that’s fine. They know who you are from having met you, not from whatever caricature your opponent painted.


Govern well, with fairness toward all of your constituents, and your life will be a whole lot easier.  Unnecessarily alienating your opponents may be a good strategy for a Chicago community organizer, but it divides the people and motivates your would-be opponents. Truthfully, “Hate your neighbor” is no way to lead. Any community group would rather be fulfilling their mission, and if you can help them succeed, even in a small way, then both sides win.


Define yourself 
So, get out there and meet with people. Meet with everyone. Listen, explain (concisely), and engage. These groups are currently only listening to people who aren’t your friends, and it’s time to change that. If you don’t, who will?

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10 Speech Writing Rules for Political Candidates

speech writing for political campaigns

In my experience, most candidates think they are already fantastic speakers.  They assume they convey their platform eloquently, speaking quite extemporaneously, just straight out of their head. The truth is, however, they really suck at it.

Typically candidates are so intimate with their own ideas that listening to them speak in depth about an issue is like trying to start a movie halfway through.  They often forget to ‘set up’ the audience before delving into the meat of the issues. This is where having a speechwriter is terribly handy.

I love writing speeches.  To me, it’s just as much like getting into the head of a character as writing a play or novel would be.  Of course, the character we’re talking about is an actual person, which brings me to my first rule:

1. Write in the candidate’s true voice.

Sounds good, right?  But what exactly is the “candidate’s true voice” and how does one capture it?  A candidate’s voice is defined not only by the tenor and tone of it, but also the regional accent he may affect, and the small idiosyncrasies in his personality that come through in the way he talks to people.

To know the candidate’s voice, the speech writer needs to be someone who is either relatively close to the candidate personally, or someone who’s intuitive enough to pick up on a candidate’s unique voice over the course of shadowing and interviewing him for a few days.

2.  Write in the local dialect.

Do the people in your candidate’s part of the country say soda or pop?  Or is it all just Coke?  How about lollipop versus sucker?  It may not seem like a big deal, but misplaced colloquialisms can trigger suspicion, consciously or otherwise, in the mind of the voters.

3.  Don’t write over the candidate’s head.

It’s important that your candidate knows the issues.  It’s not necessary to make him sound like he’s got a PhD in each one.  Newspapers and other written media are purposely written at about a 4th grade comprehension level so that they can be digested by the largest audience.  In the same way, you should write speeches so that the average Joe can easily hear and understand them.

4.  Don’t write below the candidate, either.

If your candidate really does have a PhD that favors your campaign issues – don’t dumb him down!  The key is to capture the true nature of the candidate and then put that into words on paper.  A political candidate must be genuine above all else, and a speech is simply a vehicle for delivering the campaign message in its purist form.  A well-written speech should give as clear a picture of the candidate’s platform as a snapshot would give of his face.  Does that make sense?

5.  Don’t try to change your candidate.

I’ve never worked with a candidate I 100% agree with, and I suspect I never will, thankfully.  It’s tempting to lean into your own ideological beliefs when you’re on a role, typing away, but be sure to keep the speech true to the character of your candidate in the end.  That’s what re-writes are for.

6.  Know the local taboos.

I once worked with a political consultant who want to drop President Bush’s name about 17 times in a speech given in Harlem.  You don’t have to be a genius (she really wasn’t) to figure out that one is a turn off.

7.  Stick to the structure.

If you were required to take a basic speech or communications class in high school or college, you already know the basic structure of a speech: introduction, body, conclusion.  But a political speech has its own structure within the traditional set up that takes a certain amount of wit and strategy to pull off well.  While you have plenty of room to get your point across clearly and succinctly, you should remain within the boundaries of the classic political speech.  It’s classic, after all, because it’s been proven to work.

8.  Consider creative delivery methods.

I’ll demonstrate this rule with two stories.

I once worked with a brand-spankin’ new candidate (my favorite kind) running for a county level elected office.  He was a likable guy, but stiff and awkward in front of a crowd.  I tried to get him to loosen up and walk around during speeches; he remained tethered to the podium.  I tried to get him to interact with the audience; the idea of speaking unscripted terrified him.

I worked with another brand-spankin’ new candidate the next election cycle who was running for a state representative seat.  This guy was gregarious, and had a huge presence in front of a crowd, but he was impossible to reign in!  Stay on message?  This guy was everywhere.

I learned to write well for both of these political candidates.  One needed every word – of not only speeches but also answers to potential questions – written out and rehearsed.  The other worked well with bullet points of the key campaign topics, and nothing more.

The point is, you’ve got to figure out early where your own candidate lies on that spectrum and adapt early.  You can change your writing style.  You can’t change your candidate.

9.  Don’t take criticism personally.

If you write for others for any length of time, you’ll likely get your work ripped to shreds at least a few times.  You simply can’t take it personally.  Maybe your writing doesn’t jibe with the candidate’s speaking style yet.  Maybe you don’t fully grasp his position on a particular issue.  More often the case, things ‘read’ better than they actually sound out loud (it’s a must to read your work out loud to yourself before you hand it over to anyone else).  And most times it’s just a couple of words, or a single awkward transitional sentence that throws the whole speech off kilter.  Whatever the case, take the criticism, resolve to fix it, and then do.  The only way to get better at writing is re-writing.

10.  Know your role. 

You are one player on a campaign made of many.  Speech writing is one (albeit very important) piece of the campaign communications strategy.  Take yourself seriously.  But don’t take yourself too seriously.  Candidates will mispronounce words, jump on applause, and poorly deliver joke lines.  Role with it, learn, and become better for it.

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What’s In A Name? Using A Crazy Name To Yourself Get Elected

funny names on political yard signs

My favorite posts to write are the ones that answer real questions from real readers of my blog!  Here’s one I received via GOP Campaigner’s Facebook page:

” I would like to run for office in the foreseeable future. I have always been very passionate about politics and serving others…but I have an unusual name that people usually find very uncommon. In your experience, how important is your name? I know this question is little weird but I can foresee it being an issue especially in conservative states, I am republican, however. I even thought about changing my name to something little more Anglican.”

My dear reader, don’t change your name!  At least, not if you like it, anyway.

There was a time when boring names like John, George, James, Thomas, etc. were the rule in politics, but that’s probably also reflective of the make up of the country at the time.  America is becoming more ‘ethnic’ by the day, and you need only take a look at the names of some of our current congressmen to see that.  Oh, and our current president is names Barack Hussein Obama.  Having a unique name doesn’t mean you have to abandon any hopes of running in a successful political campaign.

A funny name can actually be a good thing.  It’s different, so it stands out in a radio ad or on a yard sign.  Things that are ‘different’ are easier to remember, giving your name identification a boost.  There are a lot of ways to leverage an interesting name in your favor in your run for office.  Here are just a few:

  • Use word play to tie your name to your district, your platform, or the elected office you’re running for.  A little cleverness will not only help voters remember your name, but also a little about your campaign.
  • Use your nickname.  You can use any variation of your name that you choose on the ballot, including some nicknames.  If your state doesn’t allow using the nickname alone (“Smiley Smith”), they may at least allow you to include your nickname in the complete name on the ballot (“John ‘Smiley’ Smith”).  Not only are nicknames more memorable, they help to make you seem more relatable.
  • Shorten your name.  If your name is difficult to pronounce, consider finding a way to make it shorter or easier without changing the ‘essence’ of your full name.
  • Emphasize paid media that boosts name ID, like radio ads, billboards and yard signs, in your campaign planning and budgeting.

Whatever you decide to do, the most important thing is that you own your name.  You can be proud of your heritage and be a patriotic and dedicated public servant at the same time.  In fact, nowhere is that more true than in our great country.

The 2012 elections made it pretty clear that the Republican party knows it needs to embrace cultural and ethnic diversity within its own ranks in order to garner much needed ‘minority’ votes in national elections.  They just haven’t quite figured out how yet.  We desperately need brave Republican candidates from Latino, Asian, African American, Native American, Arabic, Jewish, and many other backgrounds to step up and plunk their funny sounding names on the ballot with a big fat (R) next to it.  Without them, the GOP will be going out of style along with names like Albert and Eugene.

And hey, just for fun, check out some of these funny political candidates’ names.

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The 3-Word Campaign Slogan Strategy

jackson 5 campaign slogan strategy

"Easy as 1-2-3." Get it?

The 3-Word Campaign Slogan is like the campaign manager’s Staples ‘Easy Button.’  It’s short.  It’s to the point. It gets the job done.    If you’re running a political campaign, it’s just the silver bullet you need.  So how do you pick the right three words?

Well, if you’re following the GOP Campaigner Planbook, you know that you need three main themes, or ‘points,’  to focus your campaign in a manner that aligns well with both your candidate’s values and the communities wants/needs.  You can also check out my post on campaign messaging.  This is accomplished by:

  1. Determining and prioritizing what’s important to the voters in your district.
  2. Prioritizing what’s important to your candidate/campaign.
  3. Finding the overlap on the above two lists.

Now you want to find the top three items on the list that match.  Keep in mind, your campaign doesn’t have to be about your candidate’s number 1 pet issue.  Likewise, choosing a second or third priority issue as your campaign’s focus doesn’t mean you value your first priority any less.  All this process does is line up your candidate’s priorities with those of the district voters.

Why do we have to go through this rigamaroo?  Well, you’re not going to win with an unpopular, boring or irrelevant issue, no matter how much the candidate pounds his drum.  Likewise, trying to get a candidate to champion an idea that he doesn’t truly believe in will come off fake and forced, not to mention he won’t be as capable at thinking on his feet about the issue – and that turns voters off.

So back to the 3-word campaign slogan.  Let’s use an example.  Say you’ve chosen these top three issues:

  1. Small businesses have been closing left and right. You want to incentivize entrepreneurship (we’ll call in a ‘incentive program,’ because voters like that sort of thing.  But we’re Republicans, so those ‘incentives’ will probably be a series of tax cuts and credits that roll back previous administrations’ tax hikes).
  2. The city parks aren’t well cared for, are run down, and thus attract a ‘bad element.’
  3. The public schools are filled over capacity.  Teachers are overburdened and under-equipped.

There are a couple of ways you can go – literal or conceptual.

The literal method works really well for executive offices like mayors and town managers, while the conceptual method works well for offices like councils and state representatives.  I think voters are more impressed with the literal method because it’s very honest and straightforward (which is the opposite of what they expect from a politician), but it doesn’t really matter which way you go, so long as you are reflecting those 3 key points you’ve chosen.  Rather than explain what each is, here’s an example that illustrates it:

  • Literal – Small business, Parks, Schools
  • Conceptual – Prosperity, Recreation, Education

Get it?  With the first, you’re putting a stake in the ground and saying ‘this is exactly what I plan to do.’  With the second, you elude to those things (which will be repeatedly expounded upon in your PR, advertising and public speaking) and you gain an added versatility with conceptual words that allows you to draw on others’ ideas and helps the voter accept the message with their own spin on those values.

The 3-Word Slogan is optional.  There are many other things you can do.  However, if you’re stuck for ideas, you’re trying to cram too much into one sentence, or you need to get the job done fast, the 3-Word Campaign Slogan Strategy is guaranteed to solve the problem.

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Winning Your Primary

This is a guest post from Sound Messaging, Inc., which has developed a platform for the easy delivery of personalized voice messages to prospective voters through social media, phone calls, and email. To learn more about Sound Messaging, Inc. and its services visit: http://www.soundmessaging.com.

For most first time candidates, primary elections represent the first real obstacle they must overcome on their path to office. Failure to prepare and strategize accordingly can result in defeat before your campaign gets off the ground. To help you get started and stay on track we have outlined three of the most fundamental concepts to follow.

Know The Magic Number

Once you have decided to run for office (or even before) you are going to need to get an immediate handle on the number of votes you will need to carry the primary and general election. This number is not just a goal but the entire basis for your planning and projections. To calculate this number you will need to do some research on recent elections. You will also want to understand voter turnout in different areas of the district and what tendencies a particular precinct might have. Voter participation in primary elections is significantly lower, and the amount of votes you need can be surprisingly attainable.

Make A Plan And Identify Your Target

With your needed vote number in mind you can begin the process of developing a campaign strategy. One of the most successful approaches involves a strategy called micro-targeting. Micro-targeting involves concentrating resources and effort on narrow voting segments to make a major impact. Identify precincts with high primary participation and analyze which groups would be most likely to vote your way. Concentrate all your resources on these groups during the primary season to secure the votes you need.

Another area you will need to especially focus on in a primary is GOTV (get out the vote). Votes in a primary tend to have a higher “weight” because of lower participation rates. Being able to mobilize your supporters more effectively than an opponent can give you the necessary swing needed to win. Many creative solutions exist to increase the participation rates of your supporters. One of the most effective includes delivering personalized audio messages in your own voice through telephone.

Build A Foundation

Winning your primary is going to require much of the same infrastructure as the general election, you just have less time to build it. This means you are going to need to fundraise, recruit volunteers, attend community events, study key issues, get your message in front of voters, and much more in a very short period of time. You need to start immediately and work very hard. Try and set goals in each area: “I want to raise x amount of dollars this month”, “I need to have this many volunteers for this particular event”. Rate your progress frequently and make adjustments accordingly. Most of all don’t procrastinate. You have a limited amount of time to make an impression on prospective voters, don’t waste it!

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3 Tips for Effective Campaign Sign Marketing

political campaign signs

Guest post by Megan E. – A Texas Marketing Enthusiast

One of the most cost-effective ways that politicians actively spread their message is through signage, particularly through famous campaign yard signs.

Here are some tips to creating the most effective campaign signs for marketing your political position:

          Choose an effective color combination

  • Choose colors that are easy to read like white on blue background or yellow on black background. You want people to be able to view the sign from a distance.
  • Stick with the same design. If you want someone to remember and recognize your campaign, make sure you are using a consistent message and design.
  • Don’t use negative colors alone. Colors like red or yellow can sometimes be viewed as negative like a stop sign or yield sign. This may be good if you are asking people to “vote no”, but otherwise, use another color with it to balance out the harsh connotation.
  • Be bold! Don’t use a white background with black lettering, let them see that your campaign has style and create custom campaign signs that show your unique style.

    Use graphics for appeal

  • Borders have been known to help focus a reader’s attention toward the information outlined within. Use a border around your sign or phone number to try and engage a reader to look at that information.
  • If you have a logo, or another graphic, add it to your political sign. Make sure you keep this graphic consistent across all of your signs so that your logo is easily recognized wherever your signs are. These work really well for recognition to those who are visual learners.
  • Don’t clutter with too many graphics, keep it simple. One logo or graphic is enough to make a sign pop, if you add too many then you risk creating clutter distracting people from your important message.

    Use good sign frames

  • One of the easiest ways to make your sign stand out among the rest of the political signs is by using a professional sign frame instead of a wooden stake. Wire stakes are also a clever and cheap alternative to the wooden stake that adds a hint of professionalism, but metal frames or “H-frames” definitely do the trick. You can find metal sign frames for cheap on most websites that sell signs.

Keep in mind that there are several other ways to get the word out about your campaign such as campaign rallies, building a website to help spread the word, and even social media like Twitter and Facebook. Let the world know your political opinion, and make the most of your campaign money by effectively spreading the word with cheap signs and clever branding.

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