Did you know that most first-time candidates for political office lose their race?

losing political raceIt’s true–and, unfortunately, the majority of those who lose their first political campaign don’t come back and try to run for office again. They don’t realize that they’ve already taken the most difficult step in becoming an elected official.

Here’s another fact you might not be aware of: nearly every successful politician in the country has lost a race at one time or another. In many cases, they’ve lost numerous times.

Abraham Lincoln, George W. Bush and Barack Obama are all examples of United States presidents who lost races before they became successful politicians. And on the congressional and state level, there are some elected officials who had to run for years before they finally won a seat.

See a pattern here? The most successful politicians are those who keep coming back after a loss. They know that running for office isn’t just about one election cycle; it’s about running a continuous campaign that raises their name recognition and familiarity each time they are on the ballot.

Am I saying that all you have to do to win is make sure your name appears on the ballot every year? No. If you don’t add hard work and smart campaigning to the mix, then you won’t win regardless of how many times you run for office.

But if you use your initial loss as a springboard to your next political campaign, and you go at it again with optimism and dedication, then your chances of winning the next election will be much better.

If you’re a political candidate who is running in a race that you know will be very difficult for you to win, then here’s some advice: don’t look at it as a single-year campaign. Consider your campaign to be an undertaking of several years if you have to. Accept the fact that you might have to lose a few times before making the inroads necessary to be victorious.

If you do have to run for a seat more than once, though, make sure that you learn from any mistakes you make. Keep records and notes of what was effective and what wasn’t. Keep building your contact lists and your donor lists.

Pour over the voting results to see which precincts you won and which precincts you lost. Hone your campaign, make it sharper and more targeted, and be determined to do better each time your name is on the ballot.

There are few spheres in which someone can ascend so quickly as in politics. One decade a person can be a city council candidate, and the next they can be governor. All too often, these success stories have one important thing in common: they had to lose before they won.


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