The SCN Encourager – Thursday, February 7, 2013

Day 4 Campaign Bootcamp – Proof is not a Guarantee.

“Show me the money.”

Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr. made this phrase famous in the movie, Jerry Maguire. And we’ve heard it repeated a zillion times since. This phrase is relevant within sports, entertainment, kitchen remodels, school budgets, and even more so in our state and national election campaigns. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard it, I could really “show you some money!” 

One aspect I like about most local election campaigns, though, is that they are all about “show me the voters.” And if you can keep this first and foremost in your campaign planning (after fussing a bit with the tips covered the past three days) you’ll do just fine on election day.

Now, I know this “you’ll do just fine on election day” pat-on-the-back demands a disclaimer. It’s not my version of an empty “Go get ’em, tiger!”

My point here is that if you have a plan that “shows you the voters” and outlines the strategies and tactics you’ll carry out to reach them, you can be confident that your plan is all it can be. That’s what I mean by “doing just fine.” 

Creating a campaign plan shouldn’t be a frustrating exercise. You know your community.  Your election campaign will not be conducted in some alternative universe.  If, after determining the number of votes you will need to win on election day, and discovering your side’s voter numbers do not add up to what you need, you’re left with doing the best you can. That’s okay. It’s honest. That’s what I mean by “doing just fine.”

Does “doing just fine” mean giving up? No. But it does mean that you are not grounding your campaign plan on false hopes. For example, if someone tells you that you can count on the local 25 member Rotary Club to deliver 72 “yes” votes on election day, you should thank them and then privately write down 20 “yes” votes in your campaign calculations.

When “campaign life is good” and all of your voter numbers overwhelmingly stack up in your favor, “doing just fine” may mean doing nothing more than conducting an active campaign that is respectful, open and friendly, and free of criminal indictments. It’s piece of cake time. Turn out all of your folks on election day and you’re in! 

I’m not talking about this kind of campaign (easy). I’m talking about the kind of campaign (tough) where you really must scramble to get your voter numbers up to where you need them to be.

“Doing just fine” in a tough campaign means that you’ve determined the number of votes you need to win, and you’ve pulled together every voter contact resource possible – and are energetically and purposefully working your campaign plan day-by-day to get your voter numbers up. If you’re doing all you can in this regard, you’re doing just fine.

When I’m part of an election campaign considered a “tough go,” I try to be a stickler (or nag) for making sure that the manner in which we are approaching voters is always friendly and respectful. In school elections, this is usually a pleasant assignment. These behaviors come naturally to the vast majority of school people. The whip and chair can stay in the trunk. 

Here’s what I mean by a friendly and respectful approach: if I’m going to ask you to financially support a great long-term solution (vision) for our schools, I’m going to do it with the belief that it’s your money to spend, not mine.

Of course you can afford the extra $1.19 per day if the request is approved. Of course you can give up that daily cup of coffee and do the right thing for the kids.  Of course you can be tagged as a pain-in-the-butt critic for not liking my proposal or sharing my values. But in the end, it’s your money, not mine. I respect your choice.

In acknowledging this, I‘m going to do my best to present you with a respectful presentation about why our school district’s request is necessary, reasonable, affordable, and offers beneficial long-term value. I’m going to do my best to make it easy for you – and your family and friends – to join in and feel good about voting “this way.” 

We all know that this is harder than it looks. So much is relative. What’s accepted as reasonable and necessary by one person may be totally rejected by another. But establishing and spelling out the right tone for your campaign is essential.

And then you can move on to these areas – the areas I believe will help you evaluate and “prove” you’ve got a great plan for your campaign.

Six proofs that will help you know your campaign plan is ready for a tough election:

#1)  You have written down your campaign tone and approach (nuf’ said already) 

#2)  You’ve determined the number of votes you need to win (a clear goal)

#3)   You plan shows you how many actual voters there are in your district
         – voters are identified, active ones noted, and maybe a “register to vote” drive is needed

#4)  Your plan shows you how you can reach your voter goal “precinct by precinct”
         – some precincts will be better than others, but you need geographic accountability/coverage

#5)  Your plan shows you how you can reach your voter goal “group by group”
         – some groups will be better than others, but you need community accountability/coverage;

#6)  Your plan shows you who votes absentee and how & when you will reach them

If your campaign plan shows you identified voters (individually, by group and school association, and by absentee vote history) AND multiple ways your compelling campaign message is going to connect with them all the way through election day – you’re “doing just fine.” You’re doing about all you can do. Really.

Friday is the final day of Campaign Tips Bootcamp.  Just one more thing to briefly toss into the mix – but it’s a biggie. Hope you can make it.

Tom Page, SCN managing editor
car 2:7:2013







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