Know Who the Voters and Important People Are
Whether you are running for Councilor, Chairperson, Member of Parliament or President, you have to make lists of people who are important to winning. At first, the lists are the people that are the easiest to call to raise the contributions. Next, you have to make a list of all the important people in the area who can have an affect on winning.

You want them to get the message that you are running, that you have a solid rationale, that you will have the money and that you know how to win. This VIP list includes elected public and party officials, prominent religious leaders, important civic and business leaders and the political reporters and editorial staffs of the local papers.

Everyone needs to be called and, depending on the response, their people should be kept abreast of major events in the campaign.

To manage this, you need a computer and a database. There are software packages that are designed for candidates; or just get used to working with Access, Act or another major program. Now you have a database for fundraising and a second one for important political contacts. Often, late in the campaign, the direct mail consultant will get a copy of at least part of the voter file with mail information like carrier routes, your phone people will get a different copy of the voter file setup for phone calling and your pollster will get samples drawn from the same file. Since your field operation should be sophisticated enough to use the voter file, the solution is to get as much of the voter file as you will need for the primary or the general election.

Getting the voter file early lets you set up all your data in one place with much of the typing eliminated, because basic information comes with the file. And from the beginning, the campaign can rank voters on their likelihood of voting and keep track of favorable voters, donors and VIPs through the year. Starting with “Prime voters” is not enough; tweaking turnout in certain groups can be as important as persuasion. You can get the voter file from local election offices.

Unless you are an IT expert, you would then have to give the voter file out to an IT person to add phone numbers, get ethnic information and any consumer or census data that you want for targeting. What you need and how to start is something you need to work out with your general consultant or in a small campaign the campaign manager or senior consultant.

Once you have the voter file in hand, you can add things like unlisted phone numbers, work numbers, e-mail. And you can code if the voter is a donor, to who and how much, have they given to you, what issues are important to them, are they favorable, did they sign up to leaflet, put out a yard sign—the full gamut.

Now the campaign can, in an efficient way, track prospect donors, send thank you letters, track favorable, send issue mail, set up ID (identification) campaign of favorable, hostiles and undecided voters, send out canvassers with walk lists, organize the GOTV (get out the vote) operation, get out targeted mail, help people with absentee ballots, and the logistics of election day, including assisting with getting voters to the polls. Not to leave out volunteers, invitations, meet ups, telephone trees, supporters sending personal letter campaigns, building lists, rally and street organizing, the ballot access (petitioning) campaign and challenges, and finally a recount if the race is close.

Now that you’re raising money and the important people know you’re running, you need professional help (yes possible that kind as well)—political consultants.

Political campaigns, both here and abroad, have undergone revolutionary changes in the last generation. A new set of powerful players are winning elections, effecting public policy, and changing the world by skillfully employing the new tools of “American style” political campaign management—polling, press, fund-raising, political advertising, grassroots organizing, strategy, and new technology.


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