It’s September – 5 Things You Should Be Doing Now

The beginning of campaign season!

It’s September!  Welcome to the semi-official beginning of “Campaign Season!”

“What?!?” you say?  “But I’ve been working my tail off for eight months already!?!?”  Yes, yes you have.  But not highly visibly campaigning.  Labor Day weekend kicks off yard sign, billboards, tv ads, and all the highly visual aspects of a political campaign, so let’s get to it!

  1. Door-to-door!  Hasn’t this been number one for the past 5 months or so?  That’s because face to face voter contact, real conversations, and hey, stumbling into barbecues!
  2. Yard signs!  Communications comes into play in a major way starting in September and continuing on through to Election Day.  All those people you talked to (and hopefully kept track of on a spreadsheet or something) that said ‘yes’ to having a yard sign – go deliver them!  In most towns the earliest you want to do this is around Labor Day weekend.  Some towns have ordinances dictating how early signs can go out – 30 days before Election Day, 60 days, etc.  If there’s nothing written in stone, Labor Day Weekend is the general rule of thumb.  Make sure to keep 10-20 in your trunk for giving them out when the opportunity arises!
  3. Coffees and teas.  Having a ‘coffee’ meeting in someone’s home with a handful of neighbors is a good way to come inside and have some deeper conversations on issues that are affecting your constituents.  Sometimes these events manifest themselves in other themes, but the general idea is to get together with a handful of voters for an hour or two.  Make a lasting impression and these people will be your biggest supporters, and the excitement will spread.
  4. Campaign Events.  I’m talking here about public events created and sponsored by your campaign.  This could be reserving a large room at the library or senior center and posting flyers inviting the public to a ‘town hall’ or ‘meet the candidate’ type event.  You can focus on a specific issue, if there’s a meaty one, or leave it open to respond to voters’ questions.  It’s basically an opportunity for direct conversation with the voters, and also, possibly some media attention.  Be sure, of course, the local papers and radio and TV stations are aware of any such campaign events.
  5. Fundraising.  Yep, this is STILL something you have to think about.  Money propels the campaign forward, and in the next two months, you’ll likely spend MUCH more than you did in the previous eight.

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The Nurse’s Song

My clever daughter discovered this gem of a poem in her stack of library books and shared it with me, and now I’m sharing it with all of you. Enjoy this Roald Dahl classic!

political humor

The Nurse’s Song
by Roald Dahl

This mighty man of whom I sing,
The greatest of them all,
Was once a teeny little thing,
Just eighteen inches tall.

I knew him as a tiny tot,
I nursed him on my knee.
I used to sit him on the pot
And wait for him to wee.

I always washed between his toes,
And cut his little nails.
I brushed his hair and wiped his nose
And weighed him on the scales.

Through happy childhood days he strayed,
As all nice children should.
I smacked him when he disobeyed,
And stopped when he was good.

It soon began to dawn on me
He wasn’t very bright,
Because when he was twenty-three
He couldn’t read or write.

“What shall we do?” his parents sob.
“The boy has got the vapors!
He couldn’t even get a job
Delivering the papers!”

“Ah-ha,” I said, “this little clot
Could be a politician.”
“Nanny,” he cried, “Oh Nanny, what
A super proposition!”

“Okay,” I said, “let’s learn and note
The art of politics.
Let’s teach you how to miss the boat
And how to drop some bricks,
And how to win the people’s vote
And lots of other tricks.

Let’s learn to make a speech a day
Upon the T.V. screen,
In which you never never say
Exactly what you mean.
And most important, by the way,
In not to let your teeth decay,
And keep your fingers clean.”

And now that I am eighty nine,
It’s too late to repent.
The fault was mine the little swine
Became the President.

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It’s February – 5 Things You Should Be Doing Right Now

valentine24

  1. Make reservations to have a romantic evening with your sweetie.  Check the Planbook, man, and keep your priorities straight!
  2. File for office if your deadline is in February – you should have checked on this in January; if you didn’t, go look it up real quick!  Remember, it’s usually better to wait.
  3. Start forming your ‘inner circle.’  These are people who are close to you and believe in you.  These are not necessarily people who are big-time politicos in your area or high dollar fundraisers.  If those groups overlap, great, but don’t mistake the party chair who’s pushing you to run for city council for your political BFF.  He may want you to think he is, but he isn’t.
  4. Draw up a rough outline of your campaign plan.  Now would be a good time to get the Campaign Planbook if you want a fill-in-the-blank easy, simple, straight-forward campaign planning solution.
  5. Breathe.  It’s still flipping cold outside.  There are no worthwhile public events on the horizon for months (unless the Knights of Columbus throw an awesome St. Patty’s day party like the one in my hometown).  So don’t stress about being “the Candidate” just yet.

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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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Cystic Fibrosis – A Brief Appeal

*50% off discount code: CFF*

I have a friend whose daughter has CF.

cystic fibrosis foundation

I have a cousin who died from CF at age 20.

I have a friend living with CF at age 50+.

My friend’s daughter is the same age as mine.  But mine will probably outlive hers 5 times over.  Unless the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s cure-finding research is fully funded.

So for the rest of May I’m offering a 50% discount on the Campaign Planbook, and donating 100% of the money raised to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  Discount code is CFF.  You can also donate directly here.

Here’s my friend’s blog.  You can learn more about living with CF there.

Use discount code CFF.  You get the Campaign Planbook  1/2 off.  The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation gets closer to a cure.  I get the joy of giving twice!  Help a mother out, will ya?  Buy the book.

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Campaign Calendar Planning Part 2: Voter Contact and Fundraising

I was once asked in an interview, “If you had to pick one, which would you consider more important: Grassroots or Fundraising?”  I think I him-hawed for at least 10 minutes before choosing grassroots.  In reality, they are both incredibly important – so much so that it’s hard to even put into words.  That’s why I’m lumping them together in this campaign calendar planning series.

Voter contact is immensely important, but very, very tricky to plan.  There are a few factors that must be taken into consideration:

  • Voters have short memories, therefore contact closer to Election Day is more valuable.
  • There are (usually) so many voters, it takes several months to sufficiently cover the district.
  • Personal 1-1 contact is exponentially more effective than group interactions.
  • Group interactions are still more effective than relying on advertising alone to make contact with the voter.

There are equally important factors to consider in fundraising.

  • Fundraising can be done very early – before you even ‘officially’ start your campaign.
  • A solid campaign ‘war chest’ relieves a ton of stress and worry.
  • Money = advertising = name recognition and message control.  The sooner you have it, the better.

Now on to the work of scheduling these tasks.  Generally, you’ll want to front-load your fundraising and back-load your grassroots.  Start with grassroots/voter contact and work from Election Day backward.  And in case you were wondering, you should be doing nothing but voter contact on E-Day.  Go ahead and put “meeting voters at the polls” in big red letters on that day for you and all your family members.

In the 4-8 weeks preceding the election, you’ll want to hold several campaign events that allow voters to come and meet your candidate.  These can be ‘meet the candidate’ events held by other organizations, debates with your opponent, community events that allow political candidates to use the venue for voter contact, or town halls, block parties, coffees, meet & greets that your campaign holds itself to get in the face of many voters at once.  Pencil all these things in first.  Depending on the size and scope of your campaign, you may have 3 per week or just a couple throughout the whole campaign.

Next, pencil in door-to-door walking for every evening and weekend.  Every single one.  Yes, some of them will get cancelled in exchange for a different activity, event or just because you need a break – that’s why it’s in pencil.  The idea is just to drill into your head that when you’re not actively involved in some other aspect of the campaign, you need to be talking one on one with voters.

And that’s how you schedule a killer voter contact campaign.  Obviously there’s a lot more that goes into planning voter contact, like strategizing where to do all that door-to-door, but that’s another post.

Fundraising needs to start as soon as your campaign does, ideally.  Ironically, fundraising is less formal when it comes to scheduling, because most of it involves working around other people’s schedules rather than your own.  So when you’re scheduling fundraising, you’ll want to chronologically put things in the following order:

  1. Send a fundraising letter – you’ll need to plan when you’ll write, print, stuff and send the letter, and schedule follow up phone calls and meetings.
  2. Call potential donors, including PACs.
  3. Meet with potential donors.
  4. Plan and conduct fundraising events.

Fundraising is an ongoing process.  A campaign always needs more money.  The idea here is to get as much fundraising into the start of the campaign as possible, when it’s really too early to do much voter contact.

Remember, fundraising and voter contact are the most important ways you will use your time.  Be generous in scheduling time for them, and before you erase a fundraising call or a door-to-door session from your calendar to do something else, ask yourself, “Is this really important?  Will this get me more votes than door-to-door will?”

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Summertime Campaigning: Putting Together Your Summer Events Calendar

summer political campaigning

Woohoo!  It’s my absolute favorite time of the campaign year – summer time!  Parades, county fairs, strawberry festivals, and more!  That’s right, folks, all those summer events you love to attend will still be on your calendar.  The difference is that you’ll be chatting up voters and handing out campaign collateral at the same time.

It’ll take some dedicated organization to make sure you use your summer hours as effectively as possible.  I highly recommend finding a college or high school student to intern as a Summer Events Coordinator (one of my first political jobs!) to keep your grassroots campaign effort focused throughout the summer months.

Putting Together The Schedule

Before summer gets here, you’ll need to put together a calendar of all the public events in your district – include everything, even the dinkiest little pie eating contest or watermelon festival.  You can make this a part of your ‘official’ campaign calendar, but it’s likely you’ll need a separate calendar exclusively for summer events just because there are so many – especially if you’re running for something like the U.S. House of Representatives and your district covers many counties (the county fairs alone could fill your calendar).

Prioritizing Your Time

Next you’ll need to determine what events the candidate will attend, which ones will have a campaign presence, and which ones you’re skipping.  Here are a few guidelines for figuring out who goes where and when:

  • The candidate can’t attend everything. Consider having the candidate’s wife, kids (if they’re old enough), or campaign manager be the official rep for the campaign at some summer events.
  • Be sure you know what’s required to attend the event.  List out the cost to attend, how many staffers/volunteers you’ll need, whether you have space for a campaign booth, etc.
  • Use your volunteers wisely.  You only need a couple of people manning a booth at the county fair.  You’ll need as many volunteers as you can get walking in an Independence Day parade with you.  Make sure your volunteer requirements are listed in your summer events calendar.
  • Estimate how many of your voters will be in attendance.  If your district has only one precinct in Madison County, it might be a waste of time and money to attend the Madison County Fair when there are several other counties comprising the lion’s share of your district.
  • Don’t under-estimate the importance of small events.  A smaller event in the heart of your district may be worth the while for a candidate to attend if you think it will have the most active voters in attendance.  It may get press coverage in the local publications, and if you’re the only candidate in your race that shows, all the better.

Bargain With The Rest Of The Campaign

Summer events are important, but all the other normal campaign activities are still important.  You’ll need to beg, borrow and steal time away from fundraising, debates, media events, etc. to make it happen.  The good news is that the summer stuff is fun, so it can double as great family time (every campaign kids live on funnel cakes/elephant ears/cotton candy/corn dogs/lemon shake-ups all summer – which is AWESOME).  Additionally, you’ll be getting a lot of face time with voters that are involved in the community, which makes up (to some degree) for cutting back on things like going door-to-door.

Don’t worry, after Labor Day the number of community functions drops off dramatically, so you’ll be back in the campaign office soon enough.  Of course, that’s when the REAL WORK begins.

Put Someone In Charge

And it can’t be the candidate.  This is an excellent role for the Summer Events Coordinator, and you may need a back up in case there are multiple events in one day.  Having a designated leader helps to make sure everything goes smoothly, the candidate is where he’s supposed to be, when he’s supposed to be there, and there are plenty of supplies to last the entire event.

Apply those tips and you’ll be well on your way to having tons of summer campaign fun!

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GOP Campaigner Is Back

Start expecting to see regular posts at GOPCampaigner.com again, I’m back!  Where did I go?

Reagan Elizabeth GOP Campaigner baby

Reagan Elizabeth at 1 week

Meet the newest addition to my family, Reagan Elizabeth!  Now that she’s settled in, I’ll be writing about once a week.  Keep up the good work y’all, and keep me posted on your progress in the 2012 elections!

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GOPCampaigner Christmas Giveaway!

I wanted to do something special for Christmas for my readers, so on Christmas Day, I’m giving away my Campaign Plan Workbook, which is selling for $5.99 here, totally free!

So here’s how it’s going to work:

  • You sign up for my blog updates and emails here:

 

 

 

  • You SHARE this post on Twitter, Facebook and through email with anybody and everybody that you think might want a copy.
  • On December 25th, you’ll receive an email with a discount code and link to get your FREE copy of the Campaign Plan Workbook!
  • This offer will ONLY BE GOOD DECEMBER 25 & 26!  So don’t forget to check your email and download it in time.
If you need a step-by-step guide to walk you through the process of writing your campaign plan with the Campaign Plan Workbook, you’ll need to purchase the full Campaign Planbook for $9.99.  But the workbook has everything you need to put together a winning document that you can immediately use for fundraising and executing a killer campaign.

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