Based on four decades of hands-on experience, this book shows how, for political progressives, being right on the issues is less important than being the winner.
A campaign should concentrate their attention on two types of voters: persuadables, or swing voters, and mobilizables, supporters who need to be motivated to go to the polls. If a campaign can peel off the occasional GOP voter or two, that’s great, but do not spend a lot of time or money on it. A campaign needs to find, and address, people’s self interests: physical needs, need for structure, intellectual stimulation, control over your life, etc.
These days, it is tempting to base a campaign around new media, like blogs, Facebook and Twitter. Do not, for any reason, abandon old-fashioned Get Out the Vote methods, like phone banks, calling people several times during the campaign, and knocking on doors. People like to be asked for their vote.
All the effort in the world will be worthless if the candidate is boring or wishy-washy on the issues. People like to feel that the candidate is on their side, that they aren’t afraid to stick to their values, that they have vision and integrity, and that the candidate respects the voters. Next in importance after having a good candidate is having good organizers and a field operation that can cover the whole area (town, district, state).
It’s tempting to think that the election of President Obama, and the current unpopularity of the national Republican Party, makes this book not necessary or obsolete. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It’s easy, in relative terms, to win one election, whether on the local, state or national level. The hard part is to continue the day-to-day work to get voters to realize that Progressivism can become the dominant American political philosophy. Besides, the Republicans will not stay unpopular forever. They will be back, perhaps in 2010, perhaps in 2012, and Progressives cannot wait for them to return before they start fighting for the future of America. They should be doing everything possible to change the playing field, now.
This book is an excellent place to start. It is full of information for people planning any sort of political campaign, and is extremely highly recommended.
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