The decision to run for office and the subsequent process can be one of the most stressful things a person ever does. Campaigns take long hours, financial resources, and can take people away from their families even before getting into office. This is why developing a strong and knowledgeable team can make all the difference, but that development can be easier said than done. In a period of one’s life when everyone is saying different things and giving their “informed” opinion, it can be hard if not impossible to know who to listen to and what advice to take and what to disregard. There are three groups of people who will talk a candidate’s ear off, and understanding what information to take as dogma, and what to take as hot air will save time and stress. Friends and family, political insiders, and local politicos will all say they have the answer on how to win, but upon closer examination, each has their pros and their cons.
Friends and Family
They can be a saving grace during the campaign. Between hours of political events, it is nice to go home and recharge with loved ones in a non-political environment (does that even exist anymore?). The fact of the matter is that these people know you better than anyone else, and sometimes their advice on getting through the campaign can be helpful. If they said that you’ve been going too long and need a rest, take a rest. If they say you haven’t eaten all day, get a snack. While this all seems like small stuff when the campaign is in its most busy times, the last thing a candidate wants to hear is their spouse telling them to take a nap, but candidates have to realize that this concern is coming from a genuine place of concern, and your friends and family only want the best for you. They stand to lose more upon victory, so their concern is not as selfish as other groups covered.
Are a broad category. They can be elected officials, political consultants, or campaign staff, and they all have one goal. Win. In today’s style of local politics, it is not uncommon to have campaign staff or consultants come into a city or district from other areas to give advice and work the campaign for a candidate. While this can be extremely helpful, understanding what information these groups can advise on knowledgeably and maybe not so knowledgeably will save a campaign time and money. First off, these groups have an abundant amount of data. Voter data, precinct data, past election data, take it and use it. The more data a campaign can get the better off it will be. Political insiders can also put together strategies on what areas to campaign in and how to go upon meeting those voters, which is also helpful. All that being said, these people can never know the city or district as well as the candidate, and mixing their knowledge with the local knowledge you have from living and working within the area can be a recipe for success. Following blindly to what political insiders have to say can be dangerous as they can get blinded by the constant mission to win, but their advice and know-how can be used alongside local knowledge to make campaigns sail to victory.
Finally, the most open and honest about their opinions. This group is probably the biggest and includes local campaign volunteers and party volunteers who, in many cases, have been involved in campaigns and politics for many years. These people want to see a victory for their communities, and they will work tirelessly to see that happen. While they can be amazing campaign volunteers and have a wealth of local knowledge, this group is sometimes reluctant to new and different campaign tactics. Local politicos will rely on strategies and tactics that won races years ago and haven’t worked in years, maybe even decades. In addition to this, this group can sometimes be overly opinionated with their own personal beliefs about campaigning that are either untested or flat wrong. This group is also made up of a large number of one issue voters, who will feel personally offended if that one issue is not addressed or made a central theme of the campaign. This is by no means saying that the opinions and ideas of local politicos should no be heard and considered, but their advice should be mixed in with friends and family, and the political insiders to make a complete campaign.
Accepting ideas and advice is all about balance and understanding where everyone is coming from and what they may be most qualified to tell a candidate. Not mentioned however is the candidate themselves. Even if a candidate has never run a race before, their judgment and ideas can be just as valuable as the above-mentioned groups and can lead to out of the box campaigning, which is something everyone should strive for.