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The WINNING political campaign is most often the one that takes the time to target voters, develops a persuasive message and follows through on a reasonable plan to contact those voters directly.

The basics of any election campaign are deceptively simple. All campaigns MUST REPEATEDLY COMMUNICATE A PERSUASIVE MESSAGE to people who will vote. This is “the golden rule” of politics.

A political campaign is a communication process – find the right message, target that message to the right group of voters, and repeat that message again and again.

Unfortunately, the actual planning process is much more difficult than simply following one rule. There is much more that goes into the process which includes:

1.    Doing the research necessary to prepare for the campaign.

2.    Setting a strategic campaign goal of how many votes are needed to win.

3.    Analyzing and targeting voters.

4.    Developing a campaign message.

5.    Developing a voter contact plan.

6.    Implementing that plan.

The rule is simple – if a plan is not written down, no plan exists.

Too often, politicians believe that they hold the winning strategy “in their heads.”

In reality, if the plan is not written down, there is no strategy at all and the campaign is wandering aimlessly. Or, at other times, the candidate and the campaign manager believe that they are following a single strategy, only to find out later that their opinions about the strategy are completely at odds.

All campaigns must be flexible to changing circumstances, but these changes should be carefully considered and weighed against the original research and strategy laid out in the plan.

Every campaign is unique. While certain basic principles can be applied to each campaign, it is important to have a complete understanding of the particular situation and the conditions in which your campaign will be waged. At some point in almost every campaign, someone says, “it is different here” or “you’re not taking into account our particular situation.”

The first step in developing a winning strategy must begin with a realistic assessment of the political landscape in which you will be running. It is true that you can never know everything about your district, your opponents and the voters. However, by using your time wisely and setting clear priorities, you will be able to compile the kind of information you need to develop a good strategy and be prepared for most events in the coming campaign.