Cooking up a campaign? Need a new recipe? You've come to the right place! The Campaign Cookbook offers tips to season your campaign, make the dough rise, and be prepared for when it gets hot in the electoral kitchen. Recipes tried and true, and innovative too, presented by GreenDog Campaigns. www.greendogcampaigns.com
As I've said ad infinitum on this blog, it's never too soon to start your campaign. Going to Holiday parties? Have something to hand out; even a business card with your name and what your running for on it. A remit envelope is handy too. And get those first fundraising letters to friends and family in the mail. Yes, your holiday card list is a good place to start. Why not? Send Aunt Rose a card and tuck a note with a remit into it. She probably doesn't know what to get you for Christmas/Hanukkah anyway.
You're doing her a favor.
Don't be shy. Even at the office party, the neighborhood block part, your union's big do; tell people you're running. They'll be thrilled. And it gives you a chance to practice your elevator speech with a friendly crowd. If you get business cards in return, dash a note on the back to remind yourself how you met and any other pertinent facts about the person, then enter it in your data base as soon as you get home.
Follow up. Your fund appeal letter can go to them; a friendly phone call, or maybe even a lunch scheduled after the holidays, if they seem open to helping out. You never know when you'll meet that next big donor or stellar volunteer.
Above all, have fun, keep it a little bit light in keeping with the season, and know you are getting launched on your next big endeavor.
Today is Election Day. You have voted or, more likely, not. They expect a low turnout as usual in an off or odd-year election, that is one with no major races on the ballot to stir emotions and partisan zeal. Races for Governor, Senator, Statewide offices. That's why the legislature in this state - California - decided to do away with them altogether and move all elections to even years.. There are only a few City council and special District elections today. I have one of them, in a small northern California town.
My candidate has never run for elective office before. But she has a long history of public service and community volunteerism, including positions on important local boards, the Parks and Recreation Commission and the Planning Commission. She will probably lose, because she is too qualified. We live in the era of the unqualified. Look at our so-called President, Commander in Chief, Leader of the Free World.
Just look at him and talk to me about qualifications to serve. And look at his cabinet. Or what's left of it; what's to come; they are dropping like flies, folding their wings and spiraling to earth; don't even need a swatter
What if he too spiraled out of the sky he imagines himself inhabiting; on top of; on top of his own world where he is the greatest.
He is the Muhammed Ali of his imagination, such as it is.
What if he tumbled like a giant baby with a diaper full of doo doo down the stairs, and oh oh, cracked his baby noggin on the cellar floor.
Oozing blood and bone and wads of putrid waste; we would dance in the streets, wouldn't we. We'd hold all night celebrations and drink ourselves silly with relief.
We'd hug our neighbors and their neighbors and the guy down the block, homeless and afraid; we'd take them all home and feed him like stray dogs rescued from the pound, that's how grateful we would be.
But I digress. It is now two days after the election. Alas, my candidate lost, she ran hard, two good mailers, that we did, and she walked a lot, but was just a little too shy and unwilling to ask for volunteers to help her walk and make calls. To schmooze at every event. And we needed to coach her better for endorsement interviews. She should have won based on her grasp of the issues and community service. One more mailer maybe? Phone calls for sure. And helpers. There were two incumbents and one associated with the incumbents. They won.
And that's hard to overcome. Without big issues, easily understood where you resonate with the voters and they don't. Next time, as I always say. Next time.
Why, you are wondering should you not listen to your closest friends? Aren't the ones who have your best interest at heart? Yes, but they are also usually the ones who know the lest about what works n campaigns. You will hear thing like "I never vote for candidates who send a bunch for mail!" or "if they call at dinner time, I just hang up."
Sometimes, it's the people with a little bit of campaign experience who have the worst advice. "Why don't you have more signs up?" You'll never win without the most signs." or "In this town, people don't like slick campaign pieces. They won't vote for anyone who uses consultants to design fancy mailers."
Those statements are all toxic to a good campaign. well-meaning maybe; heartfelt. They may feel this way, but they are not running your campaign. At least I hope they aren't. Let's take these statements apart:
"I never vote for candidates who send a bunch for mail!" These people wouldn't have voted for that heavy mail candidate anyway. If their candidate sent "a bunch of mail," do you honestly think they'd turn around and vote for the other guy, the one with little mail who has views they don't agree with? No. Mail works. It gets your message across to voters in the most visceral, physical way. Even if they toss it upon receipt they have to handle it and to glance at it enough to see, and register, your name, maybe even your three priorities listed below. Not mention your nicely designed logo and professional, but friendly, photo. Do it two or three more times, and you cement the relationship you started with that person. If they don't vote for you, they were never going to vote for you anyway. But if they don't know you, you've introduced yourself and told them why you would make the best choice.
"If they call at dinner time, I just hang up." Sure, but not before hearing your name. Or if they let it go to voice mail, they may hear your whole 30 second spiel. They'll be getting other calls at dinnertime too. And since everyone's dinnertime is slightly different, you can't always miss the dinner hour, without running into kid's bedtime, their favorite TV show, or even their own bedtime. Call when it works for you and your volunteers, so long s you keep it short and on point, they'll get the message.
"Why don't you have more signs up?" There's a famous poster used by the Obama campaign. "I'm a Yard Sign; I can't vote. Go knock doors." It's apropos to all campaigns. Sure, it's nice to see your name all over town on signs in windows and on lawns, but the people with the signs are those most committed to you. You'll likely see just as many or more for the other guy. The people without signs are the ones you need to reach. And spending time and precious money on "sign wars" isn't getting your message out to the voters. Hitting them at the door, on the phone and in the mail are the things that count.
"In this town, people don't like slick campaign pieces. They won't vote
for anyone who uses consultants to design fancy mailers." This may be my favorite one. It's heard in small towns across America. It may have at one time been true. Maybe when your friend ran for school board in 1987, she could do it with homemade signs and postcards printed at the local mom and pop shop. Today, all campaigns must be more sophisticated to win votes. Your mail must be sharp and well designed. It must catch the attention of the voters. And the competition at the mailbox isn't just with the other guy; it's with all the slick advertising you get every single day from a myriad of companies. So don't look at it as slick, but professional. Make your mail stand out. No, don't send one piece every day. hat wil get old and turn people off. Send three or four well designed punchy mailers that stick to issues. If you need to point out the difference between you and the other guy, do it in a clever comparison piece. You don't have to get nasty to make your point.
If there are several people running, it's even more important that you step away from the crowd and get seen and heard. All of these techniques are necessary to a winning campaign. The rule of thumb is you "touch" the voter 7 times, in small campaigns and large. In the mailbox, on the phone, at the door. If they come to a debate, that's great too, but most won't. You have to meet them where they live. Everyone has a mailbox, or a post Office box they check every day. Use it to your advantage.
Perhaps not incidentally, McCain himself is suffering from a serious condition, a brain tumor, which, under this plan, he may well have lost his insurance over. I hope that is not what it takes for other Senators to gain some compassion and humanity.
Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, won't you join McCain once more and make this thing go away?
I have written about the sign wars before. Now, I have seen everything. Along with the candidates' signs in a public location, commercial messages are popping up to compete with space; same size as the "real" signs.
A lot as it turns out. Now, I have run plenty of campaigns for underdog candidates who did not have the best endorsements in terms of elected officials or well-known opinion leaders, or major organizations, but they did have endorsements from their friends and neighbors, the people who cared about the issues they cared about. The people who could introduce them to other voters, donors, volunteers and provide locations for signs.
Here are a few things endorsements are good for:
1. Helping raise name recognition. So and so supports you. I know so and so, I'll support you too.
2. Finding other contacts. Ask your endorsers to provide the names of five others who might endorse or help out in some way.
3. Finding volunteers. The endorsers, their family, friends and colleagues who care about your issues can all be part of your network.
4. Money - Yes, ask those endorsers for a campaign contribution and to help you find others to ask as well.
4. Ask them to hold a house party. They invite their neighbors, you come and speak to a few interested folks, leave with sign locations, donations (usually small, but everything counts, right?) and even eager volunteers.
6. And it spirals. Go viral with the spiral of your growing contact list. Invite them to your website, your Facebook page and to invite their friends to "like" your page as well.
7. Now you have a campaign. These people believe in you. they are the ones to call for phone banking, walking, helping in a myriad of ways. They are invested. Use them. Remember, if they donated once, they'll donate again. If they walked one precinct they'll walk another. And so on.
Caveat - You have to ask. You have to pick up the phone and make the call, make the ask. Your new endorsers are waiting.
Database Maintenance: 4 Ways to Streamline Your Process
Aug 30, 2017
By Ken Christensen
(from Campaigns and Elections magazine)
(Interested in more? This is a great resource!) click here.
A communications database needs to be a part of the overall
infrastructure from launch. After the crowd leaves, have a plan in place
to constantly add and update individual contact information on a daily
basis. Given the day-to-day demands of a competitive race, that’s not
Here’s my best advice for streamlining database maintenance.
Draft initial lists ahead of time.
Democratic congressional campaigns, which are my specialty, should
gather lists like the follow: The candidate’s family, friends,
supporters, volunteers, donors, colleagues, Facebook friends, targeted
likely voters; national, state, regional and local labor union leaders.
Include Democratic County, township and ward chairs; local Democratic
precinct committeemen and first-time Democratic local, state and federal
candidates. I could go on, but you get the picture.
Itemize contacts by position and include at least an address, phone
number and an email address. Research will need to be done to gather and
verify contact information on each individual accordingly.
It’s a massive data-entry project, plan accordingly.
Management should recognize that the development of the campaign
communications database is a time-consuming project. Ideally significant
staff and volunteer resources should be assigned to the project during
the campaign infrastructure set up.
Entering and coding all the individuals and lists into the campaign communications database is the next step.
All the individuals and lists to be entered into the campaign
communications database must coded accordingly. For example, if an
individual is added that contact must be coded into an appropriate
category that the campaign determines. If an excel file list is
uploaded, it will need to coded accordingly. For example if it is an
excel file list of Democratic County Chairs it would be simply coded
“Democratic County Chairs.”
Coding individuals and lists makes it easy for a campaign to target
email messages when necessary to a specific group of individuals — a
press release to the “News Media” list, for instance. Naturally the
campaign will be able to send an email to the entire list with the good
news and progress of the campaign accordingly.
Trust but verify information.
Since the campaign will be gathering various lists of individuals, we
cannot count on the information on each individual in those lists to be
up to date.
The campaign will need to verify the contact information especially
email addresses on all the individuals in the campaign communications
database. Some information will simply need to be tracked down the old
fashioned way by calling an individual to get their email address for
example. If a phone number is needed, then research will need to be done
to get a phone number.
Initially volunteers could be used to reach out to individuals to
verify and update contact information. At the same time the volunteer is
on the phone verifying and updating contact information they could also
ask the individual to follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter and
to sign up for text messages.
Hire someone to update information on a daily basis.
The campaign should develop a plan to constantly add and update
individual’s contact information on a daily basis. The best way to do
this is to hire a database manager or appoint a volunteer with excellent
computer and organizational skills to manage the database.
Ken Christensen, who works in U.S. Congressional Democratic
politics, is the CEO of Christensen & Associates Inc., a Washington,
D.C.–based Democratic national fundraising and political consulting