E28: Season 3 Episode 8 A Deep Dive into Political Consulting
At the state and federal level most campaigns will have a consultant that helps hone in on your message and platform with the campaign. They do a number of tasks including but not limited to setting up the campaign, fundraising, messaging, getting vendors, mailing list, potentially even the campaign manager. These consultants generally have a lot of experience in this field and have a lot of responsibility to the candidate as well as the campaign. The general consultant is essentially the CEO of the campaign.
The Primary Structures
The primaries are how each political party gets their candidate through the nomination process; there are different types of processes depending on the region. Some examples of these primary processes are caucuses, canvases, state-ran primaries, party-ran primaries and this all goes down to a local level. With all of these examples you show up at your normal polling place and vote for your candidate of choice for that party. There are also conventions where people are selected by their local parties as delegates. Then there are canvases, which have a similar structure to the primary where you go vote but the number of locations for these are much smaller and is run by the party. These canvases can give a lot of information to the delegates, even by just getting an email address for a mailing list. So having a general consultant for your campaign can help navigate which method of primary nomination will work best for campaign and how you can influence the decision.
Fundraising As A Political Candidate
Fundraising is a major part of running a political campaign. There are miniscule types of fundraising that the general consultant will normally take part in which may include email campaigns and newsletters. For the most part it is the candidate themselves that do most of the fundraising, by getting on the phone and calling potential constituents and getting their financial backing. Starting with friends, family, and colleagues is the seed money for any campaign, then you move to donors outside of that immediate network. That next step is party specific political activists, hardcore democrats or republicans that stand by the party views. As you’re moving up in the political spectrum your network is growing which makes for a larger pool of potential donors, then the last aspect of fundraising is cold calling. The four magic words a candidate wants to hear from a potential donor are “how can I help,” once you hear these words you now have to make your move whether it’s asking for money or vote.
Complying With Finance Laws
The easiest way for a campaign to get into hot water is by messing up their finances and their reports of them. You absolutely have to keep track of the donors and their personal information. There are caps on how much a single donor can contribute in different types of elections and this all has to be proved through documentation. There are many regulatory agencies that you need to be reporting to as a candidate.
Before anything else makes sure you’re committed 100% and that you have the backing of your spouse and/or family. You need to know why you’re running, how you’re going to win, and what is going to happen when you get elected, you must be able to answer all of these questions without hesitation to be considered a serious candidate. The more detailed the better because voters need to see transparency with the candidate’s message. After all of that next is fundraising and staffing; you’re going to need money and a solid team. Next up is getting your message across through the right platforms, some voters need to hear radio ads, some commercials through streaming services, some billboards, the list goes on. Being in tune with who your voters are can help hone in on how to reach them effectively through these methods. The big three takeaways are being able to raise money, have an authentic message, and build a solid team around you.
Tom Dunlap: Linkedin
John Whitbeck: Linkedin