Beware of Dogs

Dogs are a huge part of American life; most pet owners love their dog like family. So you should be prepared to meet your voters furry friends.

This image illustrates the best way to meet a new dog and what not to do.

How NOT to greet a dog

“How NOT to greet a dog” by Lili at

People believe their dog is an excellent judge of character; if the doesn’t like you his owner, the voter, will remember on election day. And she won’t be shy about telling her friends about how Buddy hated that candidate.

So make nice to the pups in your districts!

The dog HATES you! Now what? Blame your dog “he probably smells Lady my Beagle”. If you cannot be friends with the voter’s dog try to relate to them using your own pet. Do NOT makeup a pet or fib about loving dogs people will find out and you will be humiliated (lying during your campaign is ALWAYS a bad idea).

What about those beware of dog signs on the fence. Use your best judgement.  Look for the dog; if he is acting friendly give it a try. Go with your gut, but when in doubt skip it. You can always mail a piece of literature or give those voters a call.

Most dogs are friendly so have fun meeting them and the voters who love them.

Shaking Hands and Kissing Babies

How to Kiss a baby

I have never kissed a baby while campaigning.   But, there is a long history of baby kissing in American politics.  So if the opportunity should arise get a picture and do it right!

As you can see there is a right way and a wrong way.  If you are in a baby kissing situation remember there is potential for crying and spit-up.  Don’t get upset about either.  Smile and thank mom.  This is a perfect opportunity to talk about children’s issues: education, public safety and the local parks.

Shaking hands, on the other hand, is bread and butter of campaigns. Have a firm grip but don’t hurt anyone.  One shake and let go; long hand shakes are awkward. Look people in the eye and smile while you shake and say “Glad to meet you” “Good to see you” etc.

Voters will judge you by your handshake.  Practice and make each one count.

Volunteer Management the Smart Way is Out Now!

Volunteer Management the Smart Way Head over to our order page to pick up your copy of the newly released Volunteer Management the Smart Way!

Start Fundraising Today

Raising money is a challenge for many candidates.  Asking for money is uncomfortable for most people, you are not alone. But, you should ask for money!  Raising money will help you gauge your support.   Raising money proves you are a serious candidate.

  1. Ask people close to you first.  Start with your friends and family.  Practice your “ask” on your friends, if you make a mistake or get embarrassed it is not a big deal.
  2. Consider asking your local or state party.  They may ask you to give a quick speech and the contribution limit is much higher for a party.
  3. People you meet are just going to offer.  Say yes! 
  4. Know your states campaign contribution limits for individuals,  couples, and political parties.  

Raising money can be hard at first but you can do it!  People want to help so do not be shy about asking for financial support and volunteers.  It will get easier every time you do, so what are you waiting for? 

Meeting Voters 101

Voter contact is the most important part of your campaign.  Every candidate must balance talking and listening.  It is important for voters to learn about you but only talking about yourself will not win many votes.  So what is a candidate to do?

  1. Start with a simple introduction, “Hi, I am Sandra, I am running for _______.”
  2. Then ASK the voter what concerns she has about your community, city or state.  LISTEN to the whole answer.
  3. Briefly mention your position on their issue or issues.  Offer your literature for further information.
  4. Ask voter to join your campaign community for coffee like this, “We get together Wednesday mornings at local coffee shop if you want to talk more.” Remember building a community will benefit your campaign more than simply recruiting volunteers.
  5. End every conversation with THANK YOU.

Where should you go to talk to voters?  There are several options.

  1. Local political clubs are a great place to start.  You will get a warm reception and meet people more likely to support you.
  2. Fairs and community events are a good place to meet lots of voters in a short time.  You do not need a booth or table.  Just wear a name tag and start shaking hands.  Parties will often have space at these events so that may be a good place to start meeting people.
  3. The best place to find voters is at home.  So knock on doors, get a map of your district and start going to people’s houses.  For best results be considerate and brief.  Be sure the take voter registration cards, your literature and water to drink.  Wear good shoes and sensible cloths, no body wants to talk to a miserable candidate.

Voters are all around you so you should  be a candidate all the time when in public.    As your campaign takes off you voters will approach you while you are getting gas, buying groceries and even at church.  Be prepared to talk to them where ever they find you. Always have literature or business cards with you.  Be willing to talk to anyone.

How to Build a Winning Campaign Community

A campaign community is the group of people invested in your campaign.  It is more then a group of volunteers.  Your campaign community should also include donors, people willing to put up signs,  and all other supporters.  Building a community around your campaign will help you connect with voters,  retain volunteers and deploy a more effective campaign.

Recruit, Recruit, RECRUIT: You, the candidate, are the best recruiter. Every time you talk to a responsive voter you should ask him to get involved.

Build relationships:  Have coffee with your supporters every week.  Make it easy for people to get involved.  These campaign meetings will set the bar low for new supporters.  They can get to know people before you ask them to help.

Set aside time to listen: Having a discussion time with your supporters after events is crucial.  These discussions will illuminate potential problems and strengthen relationships with supporters.  

Train people well: Give your volunteers all the tools will they need to do what you ask.  Explain how to do things and why it is done that way.  If a volunteer understands the why she will do it right.  Encourage questions and ask questions to be sure everyone understands the what and why of each activity.  

Keep them coming back: The majority of volunteers do not come back to volunteer a second time. You are trying to build a community; so give everyone a chance to socialize.  Making friends will motivate volunteers to come back better than anything you can do will.

Creating a campaign community is better than simply recruiting volunteers.  Volunteers have little incentive or motivation to stick with you.  But by creating relationships in your campaign community you create the incentive and motivation to keep people involved.  The extra time and effort will repay you will more effective and dedicated supporters.


Why am I running?

“Why am I running” is the first, and often constant, question for every candidate.  There are several reasons people run for office.   You should consider multiple factors as you answer the why of your campaign.  Use the questions below to help.

People: Who will I help? What will people expect from me?  How will I communicate with constituents?  How will I address constituent’s concerns and complaints?  What happens when people are mad at me?

Issues: What issues are most important to me?  What criteria will I use to evaluate bills?  Who can answer questions and give me advice?

Goals: What do I want to accomplish?  How will I accomplish my goals?  What are my priorities?

The answer to the question “Why am I running?” will define your campaign.  Let the answer to that question be the foundation your campaign is built on.  Use the answer to write your literature, slogan and advertising.  Do the research and spend time crafting your campaign message.  Don’t be afraid to ask those around you these questions.  The answers may surprise you.  

Is this your time?

Timing is  big considerations for all potential candidates.  You should consider the office, your competition, your family, your career, the community and the political climate.  Below are questions to help you decide if it is your time.

Office: Do the requirements of the office you want to run for work with your schedule? What are the responsibilities of the office?  What could you accomplish if elected?

The Competition: Is the current office holder (incumbent) running for reelection or is this an open seat? Who else is running?  Can you win?  What happens if you lose?  Does it matter to you?

Family:  Will your family support you?  How will the campaign effect them?  What will being elected change for your family?  Will your race be an emotion or financial burden?

Career:  Will you quit your job?  Does the office pay enough?  Will your boss understanding and supportive during your campaign?  Could you lose your job?

Community:  Are you respected and well liked?  Does your work or family cause people to dislike you?  Do people consider you to be trustworthy?  Who will support you?  What will your neighbors say about you?

Political Climate:  Are people discontented or even angry with the current official?  What is the national political climate?  Are people looking for change?  How is your party’s approval rating?  What other races will be on the ballot?

Campaigns are amazing, exhausting, frustrating, enlightening and fun.  Take your time deciding if this time.  Talk to people and consider the impact on them.  Consider carefully.  Elections are held every 2, 4, or 6 years; this won’t be your only opportunity.  

Campaign Message Made Easy

 A great message is be the foundation of your campaign. Your message should summarize you, your values and your goals. Consider your history and who you are to voters. Values are our foundation; they will direct decisions, especially how you will vote.

Talk about values and voters will know where you stand on the issues. Your goals are the most important part of your campaign message.

Tell voters exactly what you hope to accomplish. Be sure the office you are seeking has jurisdiction over that issue. Promising to fix something you can’t will be embarrass you so no promises of world peace while running for city council.

There are three keys to a great campaign message: keep it clear, specific to your constituent and personal.

  • CLEAR: A clear campaign message is simple and easy to remember. Volunteers should never have to guess what your campaign stands for. Make a list of the issues pertinent to your race and the campaigns position on those issues and distribute it to volunteers.
  • SPECIFIC: A constituent specific campaign message is focused on issues your office deals with. Keep it local; consider issues that you have faced personally. Remember potholes and parks win elections.
  • PERSONAL: A campaign message should be personal, “you gotta own it”. A candidate should embody the campaign message. Believe in your campaign message and people will be motivated.

Your campaign message could be three points or ten tenants, as long as the points are local, mater to you and simple they will provide a solid foundation for your campaign.

What is your campaign message?

3 Keys to a Successful Voter Contact

Image by renjith krishnanTalking to voters is the best way to win votes. Talking to voters can be invigorating, enlightening, and fun. On the other hand speaking with voters can be frustrating, infuriating, baffling and even terrifying.

Anything can happen, so be mentally prepared for anything.  Imagine knocking on a door to meet a lovely young mother and her adorably sweet toddlers only for the next door to burst open with a sparsely dress extremely intoxicated college student offering refreshments. It happens.

 The best way to be prepared to talk to voters is to practice. Have your “pitch” for door knocking memorized completely before hitting the doors. You may still be stunned into momentary silence but if you are prepared you can recover gracefully.

Make every voter conversation count. Every time you talk to a voter you should have three goals: listening to and understanding the voters concerns, introducing you “the candidate”, and turning the voter into a volunteer.

  • First and most important you should be listening. A good candidate listens first; you have to understand people to represent them. Asking questions is a great way to prove your interest to anyone speaking with you.
  •  Second, you should introduce yourself as the candidate. Be brief, tell people who you are and why you are running. Before anyone can vote for you they have to understand why you are running.
  • Finally, you should ask every person who took the time to speak with you to volunteer. If they were willing to voice their concerns and listen to you, they care, and a person who cares wants to get involved.

Voters love to vote for someone they have met and talked to. Take your time; make a great impression with every voter by listening even when you don’t agree.

Voters are going to brush you off, slam the door on you, and someone is going to yell. It happens to every candidate. So how do you make a good impression with these voters? Do not take it personally, say thank you and move on. Do not waste time being upset or angry. No one wins them all.

What do you do if a voter is yelling at you? If he is not asking you to leave wait it out. Hear what he has to say, it is really important to him. When he is done yelling say thank you and ask him to your weekly campaign coffee, offer him a chance to change your mind. He may say no but remember just because he is yelling at you does not mean he loves your opponent.

Take your time with voters. You cannot win them all but every vote counts so make every voter contact count.

What is your secret to voter contact? Crazy stories?