5 More Secrets for Winning a Political Campaign

I know, I know… in the Local Victory Archives, you can literally find thousands of secrets for winning a political campaign.  Do we really need to publish five more?  We do… and here’s why: this week, I had an interesting conversation with another political strategist about the toughest things candidates face in winning local elections, and I wrote down these five tips I wanted to share with you today:

#1 – You Have to be Authentic

Voters generally dislike candidates that seem fake, contrived, or overly planned.  The public wants to vote for a candidate that seems like they’re being “themselves,” and not playing a part.  If the voters think you are putting on a show or wearing a mask in order to get elected, they’ll wonder what you’re hiding.  Be authentic.  If you have a regional accent, use it.  If you’ve got a colorful history (within reason) make it work for you.  Don’t pad your resume or lie about yourself… the voters will see through the charade.

#2 – You Have to Delegate

Many candidates are classic “type A” personalities, which makes this one of the more difficult secrets for winning a political campaign for them learn.  No matter how hard you work, there’s no way that one person can do everything that needs to be done in order to win an election, no matter how small or local the office sought.  Successful candidates learn how to delegate tasks to trusted volunteers, a professional staff, spouses and friends.  (For more on delegation read Five Team Members Every Campaign Needs).

#3 – You Have to Get Out in Front

If you don’t define yourself, your opponent will do it for you.  Get out early in the campaign to define yourself, define your opponent, and define the issues that are important in this race.  Set the tone early, and force your opponent(s) to respond.  As you build your name ID, make sure you define yourself and your opponent the way you want.

#4 – You Have to Stick to Your Guns

This is one of the key secrets to winning a political campaign: you have to stick to your guns.  Sure, if you make a big, huge gaffe during the campaign, get out there and retract it fast, before the day is done.  But if you’re taking heat for your position on a particular issue, remember that the electorate may not like what you stand for, but they definitely don’t like “wafflers,” those candidate that seem to change their mind every time a poll comes out.  Be a candidate of integrity, explain your position, and move on.

#5 – You Have to Have a Coherent Message

This is arguably the most important of all five of these secrets to winning a political campaign.  The best way to make sure the voters remember you and what you stand for is to develop a coherent message and stick to it.  Early in the campaign (preferably before it begins) develop a good strong message for your campaign, one that is easily understandable.  Then, make sure that everything your campaign does reinforces that message.  (For more on this read Keeping Your Campaign On Message).


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4 comments… add one
  • Teri,

    Thanks for your question! I think endorsements can be a great addition to your communications arsenal, so long as they send the right message: is this a group you should be associated with, given the message and issues your campaign is focusing on?

    Another key consideration: if they endorse you, is this a group that can provide money or manpower to your campaign?


  • What’s your opinion on endorsements? Getting them? Being associated with certain groups?

  • Ben,

    You’re right — always campaign like you’re 10 points behind, or else you may find yourself on the losing end on Election Day, particularly in the current political environment.


  • Great tips. This might be covered in the archive but…

    You have to work like you could lose! Particularly among anointed nominees and incumbents that’s a huge danger: taking the election for granted.

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