For the last few election cycles, The Campaign Coach has analyzed campaign tactics, and offered best practices and ideas from national races to be pulled into your local campaigns. This year, we’re going to go the other direction – forget everything you’ve seen and move on to 2021, and stay focused on the specifics of the town, city or county where you’ll be running.
Why? Well, let’s look at what we’ve seen this year:
On one side, you’ve got a reality television star who ran his campaign via Twitter like a reality television star. If you don’t personally have a reality television star’s audience as your voting bloc, that won’t work for you.
On the other side, you’ve got a candidate who camped out (literally) in his basement for most of the campaign and let people’s hatred of his opponent and his political machine do the work. Unless your opponent is largely despised and you have an army of celebrities and media stumping for you, that won’t work either.
We’ve had debates where the candidates yelled over each other, allegations of voter fraud, accusations of scandal and, just to keep us on our toes, a healthy debate over who’s to blame. For everything.
So, let’s start fresh, and get back to the kind of grassroots efforts that we know are tried-and-true in local elections – like having a succinct message, talking directly with your constituents and activating your volunteers. And even though you might not be actually kicking off your 2021 campaign yet, there is lots you can be doing now to prepare. Here are some worthwhile ways to spend the next several weeks:
- Learn the lay of the land – There is plenty of homework you can be doing that might as well get checked off your list now. It’s a great time to research the election calendar for 2021, requirements to qualify for office, campaign contribution limits, et. al. This is all public information that can either be found online or with a quick outreach to your local Board of Elections, and will be useful to you when you’re ready to launch.
- Recruit key volunteers – Campaign volunteers are not always easy to come by, so you’ll gladly accept them in any capacity when they’re available. But there are a few critical roles in your campaign that you want to make sure you fill, and now is a good time to have those conversations. These positions include your treasurer, day-to-day scheduler and possibly a campaign manager. If you can get commitments from these key players early, your campaign will have a stronger foundation to build on.
- Make your intentions known – Just because you want to run for office in 2021 doesn’t mean there’s a ready and waiting slot for you, particularly in partisan elections. If your intent is to run, now is a good time to let your local party know that you’re in it to win it, and engage their resources to get your campaign off on the right foot at the right time.
- Get started on fundraising – Almost every candidate we’ve worked with tells us that their least favorite part of campaigning is fundraising. Unfortunately, it’s one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. If fundraising isn’t in your skillset (yet), try starting small, before you’ve even kicked off your campaign. Try to get commitments from friends and family for your first $100. It gets easier from there.
- Figure out your value proposition – Why are you running? Many candidates get all the way through Election Day and still can’t give a concrete answer as to why voters should choose them to lead their community. Before you go out and knock on your first door, we encourage you to spend a good amount of time nailing this down. Why not start now?
Need a shepherd to guide you through all of this? The Campaign Coach’s Virtual Campaign School has classes kicking off in the coming weeks. Our 7-week virtual course (one morning per week) covers grassroots campaigning, fundraising, messaging and everything else you need to win your election. Plus, you graduate with an actionable campaign plan. Sign up today!