Most Americans are familiar with the unfolding 2020 presidential election that has pitted Donald Trump against Joe Biden and split the country along increasingly turbulent political fault lines.
However, the presidential election at the national level is just one of the thousands of smaller elections at the state and local levels that voters will have the opportunity to weigh in on at the ballot box in November.
While professional politicians with the funding needed to carry out polished campaigns have all the resources they need to hire the right advisers and invest in winning strategies, local politicians’ success (especially for ones with little or no experience in electioneering) largely depends on their ability to learn quickly and adapt their strategies appropriately to maximize their chances of winning come election day.
Throw Out the Old Playbook
If the election of 2016 taught one central lesson, it is that the old manual for how to put together a winning political campaign is no longer applicable in the modern era.
Hillary Clinton, with all the institutional backing of the press and power establishment behind her, ran a wholly orthodox campaign full of flowery rhetoric and predictable campaign speeches.
Donald Trump, on the other hand, made waves for his bombastic statements, extensive social media usage, and unorthodox speaking style.
The results speak for themselves: one candidate won and the other lost. It’s time to reimagine what winning an election takes at every level.
Get Involved in Local Politics
Especially at the local level, getting plugged into the network of local power-brokers, political activists, and constituent special interest groups is a must. People are more likely to vote for someone they know and someone who seems committed to doing what it takes to win.
Construct Your Own Support Network
A similar but distinct strategy to getting to know the local players in the political scene should be constructing your own support group. This will mainly be volunteers (especially for local elections) but may involve some paid staff. This network can be used to help build and maintain your campaign, but they may also help you connect with members of the community and local leaders, as well.
Choose Your Battles Carefully
Some elections are more winnable than others. As a candidate, you should assess each possible match-up before committing to a run to determine your chances of coming away with a victory.
These are just a handful of the many strategies that successful politicians employ to successfully campaign for elected office.