Power And Dollar

Clinton Contributed A Great Lesson: Electioneering 101

For any aspiring politician, say an aspiring city councilor, Clinton has taught us a very good lesson, especially her Iowa race.  Since the lesson is most useful for an aspiring city councilor, I will focus on that particular case.  A primary is more similar to city councilor race (versus challenging an incumbent) than house/governor races since city councilor races usually remove the party affiliation; since all candidates in a primary are from the same party, party affiliation is also meaningless.  


There are almost always more than 2 candidates running for any city councilor seat anywhere in the country.  Not many candidates can run more than 2 full fledge campaigns in his life since campaigns are costly.  Therefore, one has to know if he has before pouring money in.  Alternatively, if $ is not a big issue, as in the case for Clinton, how much resources are you supposed to pour in to secure the Iowa race?


This is equivalent to: what is your self knowledge?  



How many votes were cast in the last city councilor seat election?  How many candidates were there?  How many votes were needed to secure the seat?  If it is a challenger race, then please assume the incumbent will continue to get similar votes, no matter how incompetent he is.  If Clinton wanted to secure the Iowa race, Clinton should have checked properly how many people attended the caucuses, the amount of volunteers needed to mobilize attendance, the field staffs needed to find volunteers.  


Now that you know the votes,


Where are the votes distributed?  Which precinct got the votes?  How many eligible voters in those precincts?  What are the voting rates in each precinct?  


You will only want to spend your resources in the high voting rate areas.  It is not only about money, but also time.  For you to be a credible, competent, and winning candidate, walking the area is essential.  


In fact, this is why there are so many precinct captains.  These are the people who hold this kind local knowledge.  They walk for the parties every time.  They know which household is more receptive to this or that party.  They know which household votes.  They know if they will want to be a volunteer.  True, party affiliation is unimportant for local races.  Party is an institution that accumulates this kind of vital intelligence.  


This is where Clinton also failed.  Running Iowa was almost like an after thought for Clinton.  No enough research was done in Iowa.



If the party office of the local does its homework properly, then it should accumulate the information such votes / walking hours, votes / lawn signs for each precinct.  Now this is a good piece of information for you to see what kind results you should expect.  Can you get hold of last election’s voters list?  Can you get hold of last election’s voters check list?  Do you remember the scruntineers at the precinct?  They check your name off in order to prevent voting fraud.  However, the party collects this information over time.  A voter who voted last time is more likely to vote this time.  If you are short on pamphlets, then you know your priorities.  In fact, the purpose of a political party is to create an institution: knowledge accumulation, branding, and staffing fundraising operatives.



How many people do you need for your campaign machine?  Now that you know how many votes you need and where they are distributed, you get a rough idea about the man hours, pamphlets, lawn signs are needed.  Do you have the people to walk all the votes you need?

Exactly because Iowa was an after thought, Clinton did not have enough pay staff and volunteers.  And since Obama was an under dog and he was a field organizer in Chicago, he out performed everyone else in Iowa in terms of volunteer strength and field organization.



There are more lessons to be learnt from both this Obama vs Clinton in this classic and text book like election and fundraising campaigns.  And they are better discussed when the time comes especially since they are not related to Iowa.


June 9, 2008 - Posted by | activism, advocacy, Barack Obama, clinton, Current Events, Democrats, election, Election 2008, Electioneering, fundraising, Hillary Clinton, nonprofits, obama, opinion, politics, Thoughts, wordpress-political-blogs

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