Welcome back to the weekly Nuts & Bolts Guide to small campaigns. Recently, a few groups I am involved with were confronted with concerns that they weren”;t doing enough to directly support their campaigns”; candidates. Instead, the groups were spending time promoting articles in support of the infrastructure plan, Build Back Better, voting rights, and other legislative efforts–;even those that didn”;t directly mention their candidates. Why spend time talking about policies that come out of a statehouse or Washington D.C. that don”;t mention the person you are supporting?
The reason is that Democratic voters like to vote on issues and appreciate a reminder of accomplishments and the legislation presented or prevented thanks to their work. These things can give voters a direct way to connect to candidates who support or oppose specific policies. Accomplishment advocacy. Let”;s talk!
When we succeed, you yell it from the mountain top!
I wish I could do more to remind the Democratic elected seeking re-election that one of the best ways to do this is to continually talk about their successes. Talk about what they”;ve accomplished for their district–;repeatedly. It isn”;t about bragging. It is about pointing out to constituents the work your candidate is doing for them, and reminding them why they deserve to hold office. People need to know that the work matters, and how, and that what a candidate is doing has an impact on their lives.
Yelling successes is a great way to get earned media, which means coverage in local papers and TV programs without paying a cent. Show up at local breakfast events now and again, cut ribbons, send out letters. Notify people what is happening. When Donald Trump sent out stimulus checks and they were signed at the bottom “;Donald J. Trump,”; it was a yell-it-from-the-mountaintop moment. Donald Trump took credit for something he wasn”;t sure of and then used it as marketing to millions of voters saying: see what I can do! The cost to his campaign? ZERO. Absolutely ZERO.
This is where I have to remind individuals that Democratic successes are successes we all share. If a bill passes the Democratic House, every Democrat voted for it. Remind voters of your successes, of Democratic successes, and of their own roles in those wins. They were instrumental in bringing back district funding. They advocated for infrastructure. They got the roads repaved in that one area that”;s always been a mess. To help do that, you share those stories. Every article you find on infrastructure, or a bill passing, or a national candidate who supports a specific policy might not mention your legislator–;it is up to you to make that connection. The connection for voters needs to be clear: We are accomplishing something for you.
Remember that reminding the public of your success matters.
Know where your district is and what they want
There are several states that are super-majority Republican legislatures. How do you, as a Democratic legislator or someone who wants to become one, advocate that you can bring home success? You can do that by defining “;success”; as the prevention of the worst of all possible circumstances. Every time you are able to prevent bad legislation, every time you carry a district”;s voice into the chamber against long odds, you take the pain for your district. Come back home and remind them how difficult it is to work in a hostile work environment, and how you show up every day anyway, committed to doing the right thing for the voters.
If you are supporting the candidate, talk about how they helped your district even when outnumbered. Don”;t let the candidate be the only one talking about their successes. Rally around them and talk about how they can still get representation in periods where they are outnumbered. Providing our candidates and elected officials a way to talk about success by noting their accomplishments matters
Some accomplishments happen outside of elected office. Republicans have never had difficulty talking about their connection to what they do in their personal lives. They support this organization or that organization in a local community. Commit to involvement in local groups and show how you stay tied to your community. Do you own a local bookstore? Be willing to talk about it and what you are doing to help the local community. Does your company help kids go to college? Maybe you are trying to get a new educational degree.
Talk about your personal accomplishments and humanize yourself to your voters. The more relatable you are, the more people know that you go to your state house or Washington DC with the bests interest of your district at heart.
Never be afraid to talk about what you are accomplishing as an elected official. If you are a candidate, feel comfortable talking about your personal accomplishments. Talking about what you do and who you are in a way that is relatable and frames you as having a positive impact on the lives of your district is the only job you have as someone in politics.
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