WHAT WE LEARN FROM PREVIOUS ELECTIONS?
It is time to go back to the basics. The previous elections provide some lessons for future candidates, from the local to the national level.
1. Why are you running? You should be able to state your purpose in one simple sentence.
2. What do you want to do? You must have a message and a theme that binds the campaign together.
3. Your message must be positive, optimistic and stated in simple terms. While you want to accentuate your positives and your opponent’s negatives, you can’t win on negativity alone. What are you going to do for your constituents should be your prime concern?
4. If you have bad news about yourself, keep it quiet. If the news involves personal morals, reconsider running. Given enough time and interest, your dirty linen will be exposed. If you are questioned about some issue in the past, respond truthfully and quickly. Don’t let the issue fester.
5. Repetition is good. Repeat your message over and over again. Of course, the higher the level of office, the bigger the echo chamber you need to broadcast your vision and your opponent’s shortcomings. Whatever you say, remember KIS – “Keep It Simple.”
6. You must have empathy and identify with voters. You may be brilliant, but if you can’t mingle with the common folk, you can’t win. We have seen two elitists running for one post in the previous elections – one wore jeans and worked on his ranch, the other went foot ball- it was a startling contrast.
7. You, as candidate, must create your own image. Do not let your opponent create your image. If people can’t describe who you are early in your campaign, your opponent will quickly fill that void.
8. Repetition is good Repeat your message. Stick to your message. KIS.
9. Stick to your message, no matter what happens. If you are in a debate, don’t get off your message. Most people will not hear you in person and you get to choose what gets quoted in the post debate spin. Many candidates who may have won the articulate battles of the political debates, but they fail on the “keep on message” contest;
10. You need many different venues to disseminate your message. From radio, to TV, Internet, newspapers, direct mail, to talking heads, commentators, local organizations and more. You need a small budget with an enormous echo chamber.
11. You must control your organization from the top. Control of the message and the messenger should be centralized. Too many messages and too many messengers confuse the voters and diffuse your effectiveness. One party has a more difficult time controlling its affiliates because it has a more diverse mix. The result is a less effective impact.
12. You should be careful of the Press. Journalists are not your friends; they want a good story. Tell journalists only items you want publicized. After the Primary, keep your negative comments to yourself.
13. When all is said and done, most people will not “jump ship” unless there is a compelling reason to do so. Better the devil you know, than the angel you don’t know.