More “regular people” are in office now than ever before. It’s the start of a 2016-born political revolution.
Want to be part of it? Learning how to run a political campaign is no joke.
It takes money, time, effort, and likely some frustrated tears (here and there). But if you can make changes to help even 10 people – it’ll all feel worth it.
Want to learn how to get started? Read below.
Running for office is exhausting. You have to call people and ask them for money, make appearances, beg for volunteers – it takes a lot out of you.
If you’re wondering how anyone ever survives it, we’ll tell you – it’s a passion for the issues (and a really great team).
Even if you’re passionate, you know yourself best. Are you the kind of person who throws their whole self into something when they’re driven? Can you sustain interest and determination for what will be 9 months or more of campaigning?
And then can you stay motivated to do the job you’re elected to do?
These aren’t silly questions. Taking on public office will take over your life for a while, but you’ll learn a ton along the way.
We’re not asking you to ask yourself “can I win?”, we want to know “can I run this race?”.
Once you’ve decided you want to run, you need to build a platform. Your platform should have a few core issues and a few that are coming up in this election.
Like if your state is going to vote on recreational marijuana, you need to have a strong stance – yes or no. What reasons do you have for supporting or not supporting something?
Your support will be questioned in extreme detail, so figure out the answers yourself. You may find that you don’t have any solid reason not to support something, once you explore why you thought you were against it.
You want to find that out before you’re on national television (or local). Contradicting yourself on crime statistics or quoting outdated facts doesn’t look good for candidates.
Decide on a logo or a phrase, which you can get tips for online.
If you’re a woman, you should probably run – no matter what your competition looks like. We say that because we’re seeing more and more women win in all colors of states.
But we’re also saying that because women are less likely to take risks than men. That’s one reason there aren’t as many women as men in office right now.
Obviously, there are caveats. If your opponent is a well-loved incumbent who you like and support, it may not be the time to run now.
Or if someone else in your party is running and you don’t differ that much from them, it’ll be a very tight race. This is one reason it’s good to do the next step as early as possible.
Based on the position you’re running for, you’ll have to file your intent to run with the supervisor of elections (for local things). There are deadlines for this, so be sure to call and ask what you need to get in and by when.
The staff at the supervisor of elections will have the most up to date and localized information for you – don’t be afraid to call them! If you do run, you’ll be getting to know them well over your campaign.
Your campaign team doesn’t have to be giant. Some people have ten people on their team, while others have three. You don’t need more people to win if you hire fewer but more competent employees.
You’ll need – at least – a volunteer coordinator, a fundraising director, and a campaign manager. If you want, you can hire a communication or PR director – but it’s up to you and your budget.
You will have to pay these people, so keep that in mind.
Now that you have a team, a platform, and you’re an official candidate, you can ask people for money. And you’ll need way more of it than you thought – we can promise you that.
You’re going to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars, depending on the type of race. For something small like School Board, you can probably get away with only raising $10,000 if you have access to volunteers.
City council and mayoral races are more like $50,000 – $150,000 depending on the competition and size of your town.
Now – we know this sounds like a lot of money, but it’s no reason to give up. You have a fundraising director, who has experience. Let them do their job and don’t be afraid to spend some of your own money – but track everything!!
Campaign finances are what get the majority of candidates in trouble. If you ever pause and think, should I be using campaign funds for this? Don’t do it.
You can always submit the receipts later if the purchase is approved.
There are going to be at least four questions you get asked all the time. One will be “Why are you qualified?” You don’t have to answer this with a laundry list of other political positions.
The current president shows that you don’t have to be a life long politician to get elected. You can note your career, volunteer work, and community involvement.
“Why are you running” and “What will you do” are two other all-the-time questions. Have strong answers that always hit on the same points.
Finally, someone may ask you why you’re better than your competition. Don’t go negative – you can point out where their opinion contradicts the popular opinion, but stay away from personal attacks.
You’re in for a crazy six to nine month – and it may feel like you have to work 24/7 to keep up your chances of winning. But you’re not going to win anything if you keel over from exhaustion in the middle of a canvassing day.
Try to get some sleep and ask volunteers to do as much as they can. It’s a team effort! Think of yourself as the mascot. Yes, you’re the face behind the race, but you’re only one part of the team.
If you follow the steps above and really have the determination, you’ll have a fighting chance in your upcoming race. We can’t promise you’ll win, but we can promise that you’ll bring the public’s attention to important issues.
What’s the trick to how to run a political campaign? Knowing it’s a marathon, not a sprint, so try to remember that when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Want some advice from strong community women? Click here.
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