If you’re a new candidate who’s putting together your first political campaign for office, you’ll probably be amazed at how many arm-chair pundits offer you advice on how to best run your campaign.
You’ll hear from some people who swear that the best campaign tactic is to shake hands at the county fair; still others will tell you not to waste time at big events and knock on doors instead. One guy will promise that you need to put up more yard signs than your competitor to raise your name recognition; the next guy will warn you not to pay minimal attention to sign locations but put in overtime on phone calls to voters.
Although there are tried and true tactics that can help make it more likely that you will win an election, the truth is that every campaign is unique . . . and the road to winning for each candidate is always unique, too. We try to make sure that all of the political campaign strategies that we suggest here can be applied broadly to a large variety of different campaigns, but you should take all advice with a grain of salt, no matter who it comes from.
Over the course of your political campaign, you’ll probably hear from more than one “old pro” who warns you that you’re doing something wrong. While it’s good to take their advice into account, don’t let anyone sway you from carrying out your campaign plan if you’ve put a lot of time, thought and research into it. And beware of that skeptic’s negative words, because they can haunt your thoughts and distract you from your work if you let them.
The best political campaigns are those that win elections, and they come in many different shapes, sizes, colors and flavors. A tactic that might work well for another candidate might not work well on your campaign at all. The experiences, personality and priorities of a particular candidate have a lot to do with what will work well on the campaign trail.
Never be afraid to try a tactic in your campaign just because no other candidates in your district have ever used it before. As the world changes, it often takes new trailblazers with a special point of view to take a chance on new methods. Sticking to the tried-and-true might work for you, or it might end up spitting you onto the ash heap on election night.
In the end, it’s much better to lose a political campaign because you tried too much rather than because you tried too little. Don’t take it for granted that the best political campaign is the one that everyone else says you should run.