Wednesday, November 13, 2013

You lost, What Now?

Don't despair. You put yourself out there and ran a good race. I've been there myself, many times. It can be demoralizing, but it helps to pick yourself up and think about the next time.

First take a look at some of these contributing factors to losing races. Of course, sometimes you are just outspent or out-campaigned. (Running against an incumbent is especially hard, no matter how accomplished you are.) They may help in your next outing.

1. Did you have a consultant? A good consultant can help you position yourself by identifying key issues for you to distinguish yourself from the field, targeting voters, so you mail only to those most likely to vote in your election and creating a good image and message for you to use throughout the campaign. She can also help you see pitfalls and obstacles that you need to overcome.

2. Did you run against an incumbent and fail to tell the voters what he was doing wrong? It's hard to run against an incumbent. They have name recognition and that all-important "I" beside their name on the ballot. You need to tell the voters why they should fire him and hire you. If there's no problem, it will be that much harder to win, without spending a lot more money and doing some "out of the box" thinking.

In a first time college board race for an unknown in a race with three incumbents, our candidate did just that, she outspent the rest, pointed out the real issues that were keeping the school from being its best and made sure her message was heard, in mail, on TV and on the web. She came in first in a 5 way race.

3. Is your material too wordy? The old saying "A picture is worth a thousand words" works in politics too. Show, don't tell. People will not read your long list of accomplishments in paragraph format, but they will pay attention to eye-grabbing graphics, headlines and bullet points. Of course make sure everything you say is relevant and important enough to hold their attention until they get into the voting booth.

4. Did you spend your money on signs and bumper stickers, instead of another piece of mail or handouts for a few more precincts? Signs and other campaign "swag" are fine if you can afford them, but make sure you have the bases covered first. The voting public must see your name and attach it to your message several times before it sticks. Just having the most signs is not enough. 
What you stand for, what you'll do for them, is what the voters want to know. Tell them, repeatedly, succinctly and graphically.

5. Did you make the most common mistake of all, not raising money? No one likes to ask for money. But remember without it, you will not be able to get your message to the voters. You don't need to have the most money, but you need enough to be viable. Practice with your friends and family, talk to other candidates who've run and won and start early, before the next race gets off the ground.

If you do these few simple things, you will be in a much better position the next time you run.
                                                             Candidate practicing her "Stump" speech