If organized and managed properly, the offices of a professional political campaign headquarters can be an exciting and inspiring place to visit during the peak of election season. A political campaign office is a place for supporters and volunteers to gather; for phone calls to be made to voters; for mailers to be prepared; for yard signs and banners and brochures featuring a candidate to be stocked and distributed.
As cool as a professional campaign headquarters office can be, though, do you really need to open your own in order to win your race? Believe it or not, while a political campaign headquarters might benefit some larger campaigns, it can actually do the opposite for smaller local races.
In big statewide campaigns or congressional races, a campaign headquarters office–or perhaps even more than one–isn’t something you can do without and still run an effective campaign. When a paid campaign staff is involved in a campaign, then a home base headquarters to house them and organize their efforts makes things run much more smoothly.
For large races, the campaign headquarters serves many important roles: a place for staff to report to work every day, for campaign materials and equipment to be stored, a meeting place for volunteer efforts.
Another important benefit of having a political campaign headquarters office is often overlooked: it creates the impression in the community that your campaign is professional and has momentum. While I’m sure some large campaign headquarters have been centered out of the candidate’s home basement, having a professional office headquarters creates a better perception with the media, your supporters and voters in your district.
If you’re running in a small local race, though, a political campaign headquarters office can do more harm than good. Here are a few reasons why.
The first is your campaign budget and the amount of money that a headquarters office can eat up out of your bank account. Unless you know a building owner who is willing to give you office space during election season as an in-kind-donation, it will probably cost hundreds of dollars to rent or lease an office to serve as your headquarters. Especially in a local campaign, this is money that can better be spent on other vital things like mailers and yard signs.
Secondly, if you are running in a smaller race like city council or school board, you aren’t likely to attract many dedicated volunteers even if your campaign is going well. In this case, opening an official campaign headquarters can actually create a bad perception among locals when they see that not many people congregate there on a regular basis.
Lastly, a political campaign headquarters can be a huge waste of time for a local candidate if you don’t have anyone to staff the office for you. As a local political candidate, your biggest responsibilities are to knock on doors, meet voters and raise money. These simply can’t be done from a campaign office, and if you feel obligated to stay at your headquarters even a few nights a week, it can add up to a monumental drain on your resources.
So remember: opening up an official campaign headquarters might make you feel good as a candidate, but what makes a candidate feel good doesn’t always win an election. In smaller races, it might be better to run your campaign out of your own home and save the time, money and effort that would go into opening a separate office.