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Political Operative Datasheet: How to Win Elections
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Dragan Offline

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Political Operative Datasheet: How to Win Elections
Getting started
To be a political operative takes a willingness to work long hours, often in the background, with a lot of autonomy, and a determination to handle ambiguity as well as possible. You also have to be able to act like a cheerleader for your candidate, because you are in close proximity to them, and because you know their flaws and insecurities. At the same time, you have to know how to get them angry and motivated, during the lowest points of your campaign. A lot of people already know what side of politics they want to go into already: being the person out front-- the candidate, or the person in the back room-- the Carl Rove figure. I can't really tell you how to get started as an operative, but generally there's an interest there, say in negotiating, public policy, persuasion, researching, current events, or politics in general. For myself at least, I started taking advantage of a lot of political opportunities when I got out of high school, including political activism, internships, lobbying groups, volunteering for campaigns, etc. Also, generally just trying to talk to high level people in politics and being at political fundraisers (especially the more expensive ones). Politics is very much being aware of diverse ideas and being informed, but also having a decent grasp of interpersonal dynamics, and basic human psychology for that matter. How to get started: know someone in politics, get an internship, volunteer for a campaign, or have a family member/ or family friend running for office, and offer your services.

You need to be both a logical thinker, and a creative thinker. You have to have a game plan for everything. Basically, there needs to be a roadmap to victory. Know the number of votes you need to win, know key groups (minorities, women, college educated voters, veterans, etc), and most importantly, know who will vote. Having roll models, campaigns that you model yours after, an awareness of successful political strategy helps. If you don’t know something, find out via research yourself, or find an expert.

You also need to decide if you are running a negative campaign or not. There are both advantages and disadvantages. Sometimes, you want to have the moral high ground, while others, you want to tear the opponent to shreds. One piece of advise: run a positive campaign, and then go negative the last week. The opponent will have little time to respond cogently at the last minute.

As an operative, you will have to meet regularly with your candidate and their inner circle, and give them updates on your strategy/narrative/ talking points. You have to frame things constantly! Campaigns aren’t about truth, they’re about winning.

One final thing is not for your candidate to promise too much, or be overly specific. The reason why should be clear. People are self-interested, so it’s simply a matter of communicating a clear advocacy without over-promising.

Opposition Research
This ideally is done as soon as possible to start looking for weaknesses of opposing candidates. Obvious places to start would be to look into martial/relationship history, school/work history, criminal records, civil records (ie things like bankruptcy filings, liens, etc), religious affiliation, analyze social media profiles, map out their social network, and look for gaps in employment history. Also, their voting record, volunteering history, and look for reprimands if they are members of professional associations. All this damning information is filed away for attack ads, or for use at public appearances where the other candidate will be present.

We live in a society full of advertising, and even though this is politics, where no physical product is being sold, you still have to advertise. Consistency is key, you need a unified message that is easy to remember and catchy. It needs to emphasize some strength of your candidate; experience, anti-establishment, trustworthy/loyal/honest, veteran, commitment to certain values/beliefs, etc. It is a good idea to focus group and/or get lots of input on potential campaign materials. Each different method of advertising has clear advantages and disadvantages. Ideally, you want your message to get out to as many people as possible, but at the same time, you want to target those who will actually vote. Direct mailers are very effective. Billboards get a lot of attention. Radio is a good value. TV is expensive but gets to a lot of households. Newspapers are still read by boomers even if millennials don’t.

Facebook is very important these days in politics, in spite of all the recent news. You should spend as much as you can here, because it allows for very precise targeting of people. I can elaborate.

Grassroots efforts
Real connections with people are remembered. Door to door is arguably the most important thing your candidate can do to win a race. As such, I advise that door to door be done as much as possible. It's important that your candidate is seen doing d2d, as well as being seen in public as much as possible. Inform media of appearances as well, as well as inform supporters via email newsletter or Facebook.

People forget how artificial our society is now. So it is key for your candidate to personally call supporters, address voter concerns personally as much as possible/ follow up on voter inquiries, personally deal with donors, and write thank you knows. People want to feel valued!

Schmoozing is very important when getting money from potential supporters. Alcohol + Food+ a nice setting = the way to do fundraising right. Make sure people are informed via invitations or personal phone calls. Fundraisers are looser than generally campaign appearances, so your candidate can be a bit more informal and relaxed. That does not mean they should say bad things/ disparaging things because they may be recorded/ monitored by other operatives (as was the case with Mitt Romney and his 47 percent comment). Just because the audience seems friendly doesn’t mean that there’s one bad actor in it.

Political donations in many places are a matter of public record, so it is helpful to find out the major players, and then invite them to high value fundraisers or alternatively have your candidate cold call them about a donation.

Could be the subject of it’s own post. Look to past political campaigns for inspiration (Kennedy, Obama, Reagan are all good examples). Know the audience. Use modular speeches, which are basically speeches were you can add or remove parts at will, but which as a whole stick to the same theme.

Media: Enemy or Ally?
The MSM is enjoying a slow and steady decline, after years of stranglehold on reporting the news. Thus, they are very lazy these days, frequently make errors when reporting, and have an ax to grind with basically everyone. Media always has an agenda. The best you can do is inform them of public appearances, and send them press releases. Try to make things as easy as possible for them.

The Pesky Law
Elections can be pretty heavily regulated, from campaign finance, to advertisements. Be informed of all these laws.

These are just a few of my random thoughts about being a political operative and what it takes to help your candidate win. I will add to this thread as more comes to me. Let me know if you have questions, or would like more info on any aspect of this datasheet.

(This post was last modified: 04-07-2018 08:25 PM by Dragan.)
04-07-2018 08:16 PM
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