Election Day has come and gone, and now, win or lose, the campaign is over…right? Wrong. In today’s political climate, the campaign is never over. With election day only one, two, or four years away, every candidate, win or lose, needs to work hard to try again, or to win re-election. This is the era of the constant campaign – where in order to break through the clutter, first time candidates must start their campaigns two years out and former candidates start campaigning again the day after Election Day.
If your candidate won on Election Day, now is the time to start planning your re-election strategy. Pour over the election results. What areas did you do well in? What areas did you do poorly in? Why? Take the answers into account as you strategize. In addition to analyzing the past campaign, there are a number of things every victor can do to help make the re-election effort much easier:
1. Campaign Headquarters – Consider keeping a campaign headquarters open, especially if your office only has a one or two year term. Keeping HQ open for business will give you somewhere to keep volunteers working, remind you that the campaign never-ends and allow you to continue working on campaign related activity that may not be permissible in your “official” government office.
2. Stay in Touch – It is imperative that after taking office, you go out and continue meeting with the voters, just as if you were still a candidate. Hold town hall meetings, send out mailers, and even go door to door to find out what is important to your constituents. The more times people see you, the more likely they are to vote for you next time around.
3. Start Fundraising Right Away – Fundraising is a chore that never ends. Start fundraising for your re-election effort right away by holding events, starting a major donor program, and making fundraising calls. The more you build up your war chest, the less likely you will be to face serious competition come Election Day.
But what if you lost? What if your campaign ran strong but fell short of victory on Election Day? Not to worry. Newt Gingrich lost three races in a row for the same Congressional seat he later held as Speaker of the House. Often, the public needs to see you on the ballot once or twice before your name and commitment to the community really sinks in. If you’re planning on running again, the time to start is now:
1. Build Your Organization – Chances are, during your campaign you gathered a group of donors and volunteers to help you win. Thank them for their efforts, and let them know you are planning to run for office again. Keep in touch with them and get them involved in your campaign again as soon as possible. They’re already committed to you – now you just have to give them something to do.
2. Let it be Known that You Are Running Again – Now that the election is over, other hopefuls may have their eye on the same seat you tried to win. Let local party leaders, big donors, and powerful activists know that you plan to run again. Ask for their support, and explain why you think you will do better next time around. Approaching local leaders early will help keep other aspirants out of the race.
3. Start Fundraising Right Away – It’s the same for candidates who won and candidates who lost – the best thing you can do to make sure your second run is successful is to start fundraising early.