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.

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!