In a local election, your political campaign is the journey; election day–and victory–is your destination. And just like with any trip you take, running a successful political campaign is made immeasurably easier with a good map . . . in this case, maps of the precincts and wards in your district or city.
One of the first things you should do when you decide to run for local office is get your hands on an up-to-date, detailed map of that shows the boundary lines of precincts and wards. If your local political party leadership is worth its salt, then they should already have copies of a precinct map to give all of their candidates. If not, you can always get them from the city engineer’s office or your county board of elections.
When I’m involved in a local election, I always like to take my precinct map and get it blown up as large as I can. I then go and get a couple of dozen copies made, since you’ll likely be using it both for your own planning and to hand out to campaign volunteers if they do door-to-door canvassing for you.
If you’ve done your homework ahead of time and identified which precincts are likely to deliver you the most votes on election day, then you can use your election boundaries map to highlight exactly which streets and neighborhoods are contained in these precincts. As you visit these precincts during your door-to-door efforts or literature drops, you can cross off the streets you’ve already visited and keep track of where you need to go next.
I’m a pretty visually-oriented person, and having a clear picture of exactly where I’ve been and where I need to go next helps me out immensely as a political candidate. I also get a lot of satisfaction out of crossing off streets that I’ve visited on my map and watching as it gets filled in progressively over the course of the campaign season.
If you want to get really detailed, you can also use highlighters to color-code the precincts that are most important to your campaign and differentiate them from precincts that you aren’t going to concentrate as many resources in. You might decide to knock on doors in your most important precincts two or three times during the course of your local political campaign, and only hit the less important precincts once.
Regardless of how you use them, no serious campaign should be without local election maps showing the boundaries of wards and precincts in your district. After you’ve studied them long enough, you’ll learn the precinct boundaries like the back of your own hand . . . which makes you an even more effective candidate for public office and, eventually, a more effective elected official.