Politics have never been as competitive as it is in 2023, regardless of whether you’re running for office in a state-wide vote or just running for local office. It’s never been easier to get the message out to potential voters via digital media, which means more candidates can dip their toes in the water and more inaccurate information can be spread than ever. That means that if you’re considering a run, it’s never been more challenging to run a successful political campaign than it is right now.
Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned politician or preparing for your first run, it is essential to have a solid understanding of how a campaign works and the best strategies or tactics to use to gain momentum. In this article, we discuss the key elements of running a successful political campaign and all of the things that you should consider when running for office in 2023.
Before you can effectively run a campaign you have to stand for something. It’s important to think through what your beliefs are and how you can have a positive impact on those that you would be serving if you won the election. Depending on what office you’re running for, this could include outlining all of your stances on important political issues for the area as well as outlining your plan if you win the election.
Most candidates today, regardless of the office they are running for, put together a website on their candidacy so that there are no mistakes about their platform. They will share their campaign strategy, where they stand on important issues and a list of upcoming events or ways that supporters can volunteer or contribute to the campaign.
Before the message can get out to all of your supporters, you have to have a message to send. Crafting a compelling campaign message is one of the most critical tasks of the entire campaign because that message that you and your supporters will be pushing is the best way to convert potential voters. The message you choose needs to be a representation of your campaign and what you stand for. It needs to convey what you plan to do and how you plan to help the voters.
When you’re crafting any campaign message you should consider these important aspects:
How to resonate with your target audience
The simplicity of your message
Finding something that is memorable
The message needs to reflect how you will help the voters
All messaging needs to be clear, concise, and easily understood by potential voters. It’s important to understand that your campaign message is not a single statement or idea. Instead, it’s a full array of messaging that aligns with your overall vision for the office you’re running for and how much you can improve your local area for voters.
Once you have a message that you’re happy with then it’s important to test it before putting it on your website or making it a part of your campaign. You can use either a focus group or a small collection of trusted advisors that understand the voters you’re trying to appeal to and see how the message resonates with that group of people.
If your focus group doesn’t feel like it effectively communicates your values and priorities then you may want to try again or tweak the parts that aren’t hitting right. Any candidate will likely need to refine their message at least a few times.
Your campaign strategy is effectively the way that you and your team will go about getting your message out to your target audience and potential voters. It is a comprehensive plan that your team will use to execute in order to gain traction in your area. Your strategy should include ways to spread your message and how you’ll convince voters to not only get out to vote but to vote for you.
A good campaign strategy can effectively outline your plan to attract voters to your campaign and win support in your area. All campaign strategies will typically include these things:
Your campaign message
Team members you’ll need
Plan for attracting talent to the campaign
Your voter outreach plan
How you will fundraise for your campaign
Voter data and analysis with plans to build momentum in unfavorable areas
Campaign advertising plan
Any campaign strategy will consider your potential voters first and try to align those voters with the messaging that you’ve come up with. There are three key areas that many candidates will try to address in their overall strategic plan as these three areas have been keys to winning many campaigns in the past.
Mobilizing your base effectively means finding ways to align with the core supporters that should vote for you. These voters don’t always get out and vote, so it’s important to have a plan in place that helps you reach these voters and inspire them to vote for you. If you’re part of a political party then this typically refers to members of that party that typically always vote for that party’s candidate. Otherwise, it’s voters that align really well with your ideals.
A swing voter is someone who typically does not vote based on political affiliation and instead looks at each candidate to decide who they want to vote for. A swing voter is called this because they can swing an election in any direction based on how they vote, collectively. Understanding how you can align with swing voters in your area could be a good key to unlocking a path to political victory.
A ground game in a political race is the campaign’s ability to reach individual voters with someone representing the campaign. This can mean talking to voters at events, knocking on doors, or speaking with them on the phone. Many voters are more inspired when they have a personal interaction with the campaign so establishing and organizing a good ground game can swing many voters in your direction.
Fundraising for political campaigns is the lifeblood of the entire operation. Without enough money to operate then you can’t hire staff or get your message out to the voters. It can be a challenging task if you don’t have the political support and resources of a specific party. In order to be successful you should consider creating a fundraising plan that involves identifying potential donors and methods of reaching them.
Messaging is vital when thinking about how you’re going to raise money. For instance, some candidates will avoid certain topics during fundraising if their beliefs aren’t in line with their potential donors for those topics. Never lie about where you stand, but you may want to find ways to be politically savvy and focus on the things that matter and where you align with those donors. Finding the right messaging is key to getting people interested enough in your campaign to donate. Before you begin fundraising you should set realistic goals about how much money you should be targeting and what you can potentially bring in. This is going to vary based on where you’re located, who your target audience is, what your party affiliate is, and what office you’re running for. Obviously, someone running for a local commissioner’s office isn’t going to find the same political backing as someone running for a state senate seat.
Your fundraising plan should identify what fundraising tactics will be used to find the amount of money that you’ve budgeted for. It should identify your potential list of donors and who your target audience is so that you can adequately find ways to reach out to them and give them a chance to donate to your campaign. Include a timeline in your plan so that you can measure your fundraising to your goals and expectations.
There are numerous ways that you can go about fundraising for your campaign, as long as you don’t violate any laws or rules. Some of the best opportunities to raise money for political campaigns involve getting creative and finding the best way to maximize the number of people who can hear your message. Here are five of the most popular ways to fundraise for your campaign:
Host Events: One of the best ways to raise money for a political campaign is to host events for that specific purpose. Depending on what office you’re running for, there is an opportunity to get very creative with these events. You can hold a black tie event if you’re well connected or you can hold a local family-friendly neighborhood event to get your voice out to the community. It’s a great way for people to get to know you and get behind your campaign with both their voice and their money.
Crowdfund: Another good way to find the money for your campaign is to crowdfund the money. There is plenty of opportunity to raise money online through crowdfunding if you can establish a voice and a platform. If you have a strong social media presence and following then this could be a relatively low-budget way to find funds to kickstart your entire campaign.
Look for Grants: When running for office, especially if you’re running for a local office, then there might be grants or subsidies available to you. You might be able to use the money to cover campaign expenses such as staff salaries or travel. If you decide to go this route then you should apply for as many as you can in order to maximize your potential to receive funds.
Sell Merchandise: Once you have a decent amount of support then you can sell merchandise for your campaign. This is a good way to both advertise and raise money at the same time. Many people love to support campaigns when they are getting something in return to show who they support. This is another area in which you can get creative in order to maximize potential funds.
Personal Solicitation: In the early days of fundraising you may need to reach out to large donors in your area to find those who would be willing to support your campaign by donating. Plenty of individuals and organizations set funds aside each year for these types of contributions and many don’t have their minds made up on who they want to support. You can personally reach out to meet with them and share your ideas in an effort to get them to support you financially.
No matter what you decide to do, it’s important that you choose the right methods that will best reach your target audience when looking for the right people to contribute to your campaign. A combination of methods is likely the best option since you will have both wealthy individuals as well as grassroots supporters that are likely to contribute to your campaign in two different ways.
Hiring a campaign manager will be one of the most important things that you will do when preparing for a political run. It’s important that you find someone who can get behind your political stances and someone that you can work really well with. Trust will be a huge component of the relationship between you and them as they will essentially make decisions for you when you’re unavailable to do so for your own campaign.
One of the best things to look for in a campaign manager is their past campaign experience. If you’re running a campaign for the first time then it’s very important to find someone that can help you navigate the ins and outs of a long campaign. Those with experience doing so, whether their candidate won or lost, can be instrumental in helping you avoid pitfalls.
It’s also important that any Campaign Manger has strong leadership and communication skills. They will be the de facto boss to everyone who works on the campaign so it’s important that they have the ability to operate as the CEO of your campaign and be able to inspire, motivate, and effectively manage everyone involved.
They need to have their hands in every part of the campaign so it’s really important that you and they are in lock-step with where you stand on the issues and how you want the campaign to be managed. A lack of alignment between a candidate and their Campaign Manager can mean a loss before the campaign ever starts to take shape.
The Campaign Manager isn’t the only important role that you’ll need to hire in order to run a successful campaign. The roles you will need will depend on the size and scale of your campaign, but you may need a number of different professionals that will be vital to your success. Here are some of the other important roles that you might want to consider hiring for your campaign:
Communications Director: Smaller campaigns will handle all communications between the candidate and their Campaign Manager, but larger campaigns will want to hire a Communications Director to answer questions and drum up press coverage. This person could handle media relations, craft all press releases, manage your website and social media accounts, and consult the entire campaign on messaging.
Treasurer: With all of the different campaign finance laws out there it’s important to make sure the money is managed efficiently and honestly. The Treasurer will deal with all things related to campaign finances and make sure campaign finance laws are followed.
Volunteer Coordinator: This could be a vital role if you’re able to succeed at bringing on a lot of volunteers. This role will be responsible for recruiting and managing all volunteers throughout the campaign. They organize events to recruit volunteers as well as train volunteers and manage the messaging and tactics for their work.
Field Director: If you’re aiming to have a strong ground game with strong voter outreach and registration, then you may need a Field Director. If your campaign is large enough to need a Field Director then the Volunteer Coordinator will likely report to them as they will direct that work as well.
Operations Director: An Operations Director manages all of the day-to-day operations of the campaign. This includes managing the office, overseeing finances, scheduling workers, and handling any issues that come up across the team.
Digital Director: Some campaigns will hire a Digital Director to oversee the campaign’s digital strategy. This may or may not include Social Media, depending on the size of the campaign and the role of a Communications Director. Other areas of responsibility could include email marketing and online advertising.
Data Director: This role is typically reserved for larger campaigns for state-wide campaigns. The Data Director is in charge of managing the polling data and helping to report on the current campaign numbers to help direct the focus areas of where the campaign can improve and potentially grow.
While this is a good list to get you started as you consider all of the different team members you may need it’s important to understand that smaller campaigns will have people wearing multiple hats. It’s common to see a Campaign Manager manage all of these activities with the help of others to execute the strategy.
Any good campaign is built, at least partially, on the backs of the volunteers that feel passionately enough about the campaign that they are willing to give their time to see it succeed. It’s very hard to win a campaign without a strong ground game that involves volunteers knocking on doors or participating in local events to help get the word out.
The most important part of any volunteer program is to find and attract the right people who are willing to participate in your campaign by donating their time. You can typically attract volunteers by being in the community and getting your message out through events, social media, and email. If you’re good at getting your message out then there is the potential to get a good amount of volunteers through word-of-mouth advertising.
Properly training and managing your volunteers is key to their success. Regardless of the role any volunteer serves on your campaign, it’s important to establish a strong training program to help them get fully behind your mission, know where you stand on certain issues, and be able to communicate your message effectively to the general public.
Many volunteers knock on doors, meet potential voters at events, or answer questions that come in online or via phone calls. This makes it imperative that they know what to say. Managing their work and helping them stay apprised of any campaign changes is an important step to building any momentum for your campaign. They may be the only face that many potential voters either see or speak to. By developing a well-structured and engaging volunteer program within your campaign, you can attract the right people to help spread your message and attract new supporters.
Building an effective social media strategy can be key to victory in many political contests across the country. More people than ever get their news and information from social media applications such as Facebook, Twitter, and even TikTok. Once you’ve established what your target audience looks like then you can effectively find ways to reach that audience online through social media.
You can hold online events where you answer questions and meet potential voters. This could help you find ways to engage with individuals that aren’t likely to show up at an in-person event. Through social media, many voters are more likely to express their concerns or ask questions that they aren’t likely to do in person anyway. It can be a good way to gain traction and get exposure to what is really bothering your voters.
You need to establish a content plan for all social media platforms that you feel a large chunk of your target audience is currently on. For younger audiences today, that means being on TikTok. For older voters, that means Facebook or Twitter.
You may need to establish a regular content plan for each platform that showcases your message and your potential as a candidate. You can also use these platforms to shine a light on potential issues in your area that you could help fix if you win.
Building a content strategy through social media is one way that you can build a digital audience. You can also gain traction with potential voters by establishing content on your website that talks about your local area. You could couple this with fliers or door hangers that you can pass out in your local community to build your brand recognition as a candidate and send voters back to your website to learn more about what you stand for.
Using paid advertising is another way that you can attract voters to your website, and social channels, to volunteer, or donate to your campaign. You can use a variety of paid advertising strategies to build each of these areas of your campaign and exponentially increase your potential for success. Paid media allows you to target your audience on these platforms and put your message in their face on the platform on which they choose to spend their time.
You can also stick to more traditional marketing for your campaign. Handing out yard signs, flyers, and brochures can help get the word out. This is especially true if your target audience is older than average. You also shouldn’t underestimate the power of press coverage. Getting covered locally and using the press platform to get your message out is an old strategy that still works today. After all, there is no bad press, right?
No matter what marketing channels you choose it’s important to make sure your messaging is getting across to the audience of that channel. This could mean tweaking your message for each age group or even each platform that you spend time on. It is equally important to analyze your results on each platform, especially paid channels. You don’t want to keep spending money on something that isn’t resonating with your voters.
Good Party is not a political party. Instead, we are a tech company that helps good independent and 3rd party candidates run for office. Our platform provides expert knowledge and campaign tools for candidates like you looking to gain an advantage against your competitors. We provide this information for free. If you’re considering a run for office, or have already completed the paperwork, you can book time with our team to learn more.
Running for office isn’t easy. In fact, it’s never been more complicated or time-consuming than it is in 2023. More potential candidates than ever have a platform to gain momentum and garner attention than they ever have before. This makes it more important than ever to craft the right message and establish your campaign in an effective way so that you can reach potential voters and show them why they should vote for your campaign.