Fundraise, fundraise, fundraise. Establish a dichotomy between yourselves and the opposition. Be careful what you say to the press. Focus your message. Get your mailings out on time. Demand debates. Look up past donors, take them out to coffee. Remember, always remember, your precinct is your battleground. You have one goal from now until Election Day: get your candidate in office.
That’s just a sample of the invaluable real-world advice American Majority, a conservative non-profit organization specializing in training political candidates and grassroots activists, taught students at Hillsdale College last week during a campus training.
Two Hillsdale graduates, Raz Shafer and Sarah Gough, held a three-day intensive training course in campaign management that gave students the basic knowledge needed to run a successful campaign. Among other topics, the tutorial included sections on how to craft a candidate’s message, fundraise, research a precinct, work with media, coordinate volunteers, and make that final three-day push to get out the vote.
Shafer and Gough shared data compiled by American Majority and spoke from their personal experience on the campaign trail.
In a nutshell the training taught students to work smart and then work hard.
The motivation for such labor is protecting what we believe as conservatives, Shafer said.
“The liberals are the ones that fight like they believe it,” he told Red Alert Politcs, “We claim to have absolute truth and first principals on our side, but too often we don’t show up to fight on election day. We’ve got to win at the ballot box in order to ever have the chance to win in the arena of public policy.”
One of the keys to winning an election, Shafer said, is knowing your audience. Every precinct has its saints, sinners and savables.
“Sinners will never vote for you, saints will always vote for you, and savables could vote for you if you convince them. Make them saints by messaging to them,” Shafer said.
Shafer and Gough also stressed the importance of micro-targeting in getting out the vote, and said if you aim small, you will miss small.
Shafer shared a number of stories about races where candidates narrowly won because they campaigned heavily in key precincts, to identified conservative voters. Because they narrowed their focus, Shafer said, they beat the candidate with more money.
“The only way David beats Goliath, in the Bible or in modern politics, is when he writes his own rules and forces Goliath to play by them. For us that means we work smart, do our homework and then wear out a lot of tennis shoes walking door to door.”
American Majority regularly holds such educational seminars across the nation and offers a variety of online resources to help candidates and activists understand how to maximize their political voice and win at the ballot box. They explain in simple terms how to understand and divide up precincts, research past voting records, lay a game plan, get the vote out, and ultimately beat the liberal competition.
According to an online statement by American Majority, “change begins not in Washington, but in our state and local communities, where a significant percentage of government spending occurs,”
“We know the model works really well,” says American Majority’s Drew Ryun.
It clearly does. In the past four years of operation, American Majority has trained more than 20,000 candidates and activists. The “win record” for candidates they have helped train is about 90 percent in primary elections, Ryun said.
Shafer summed it up well: “Politics is not rocket science, but there is a learning curve involved. Our goal is to shorten that curve.”
Disclosure: Raz Shafer contributes to Red Alert Politics