The Four Critical Systems in Every Campaign

Within the framework of the five phases of a political campaign discussed in our blog post How to Run for Public Office, there are four (4) critical systems your campaign must manage and devote resources to maintain.  Without these critical systems it is impossible to win your election, regardless of the office sought.  If you have prior experience owning or managing a business these critical systems will be familiar.  If you have never owned or operated a business, these critical systems will be new, but will make sense within the context of managing your campaign.

The first critical system is fundraising.  Your ability to raise the appropriate funds to maintain the operations of your campaign is paramount.  Cash flow problems are the number one reason candidates fail to win their elections.  Most candidates believe the most important aspect of a campaign is being right on the issues, but this is an error.  Many candidates run successful campaigns being wrong on the issues while being well-funded.  The reason for this is simple:  Being right or wrong on the issues is subjective.  Having enough money to properly finance your operation is empirical.  Your cash flow is black or white.  Either you have enough money, or you don’t.  There is no time during your campaign that fundraising will not be the most important system of the four critical systems.

The second critical system is narrative.  Narrative should never be confused with issues.  Issues are general.  Narratives are specific.  Issues are subjects.  Narratives are what you say about the issues and how you communicate your message to the voters.  As mentioned many times in our other articles and videos, politics is sales.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  Narrative is what powers your ability to sell your values, positions and solutions to the voters and influence them to support you at the ballot box.  Narrative planning is typically expressed in terms of “narrative arc.”  A narrative arc is the progression of your communications throughout the entirety of the campaign.  As your campaign makes progress, your narrative should also make progress and cover new ground that connects with the voters.

Many candidates try to run their campaigns while flying blind regarding public opinion and voter data.  Modelling—our third critical system—is how successful candidates identify potential support, identify issues important to voters, identify potential challenging areas, and gauge overall public sentiment regarding specific issues.  This system allows them to make critical decisions toward which voting blocs need to be won and how best to gain their support.  Modelling is executed through data analysis, polls, surveys, and other information gathering tools.  Do NOT guess regarding your voter data.  Models based on guessing are useless.  If your campaign manager or General Consultant has no plan to address voter data and modelling you need to replace them.  This is comparable to piloting a ship in rough seas with no map and no navigational tools.

The final critical system is theater.  The campaign theater encompasses the execution of specific strategies and tactics utilized to influence individual voting blocs, public influencers, and other organizations who have or may have an influential effect on the outcome of your election.  In short:  this is where the campaign is won or lost and where the battle takes place.  Properly structuring your theater operations requires recruiting, organizing and deploying enough volunteers to carry out the campaign strategy.  For instance, if your campaign identified 10,000 doors that need to be knocked on within the next 10 days and you only have 5 volunteers—that objective will be impossible to achieve.  Theater operations involve sufficient staffing for front-end and back-end management to make it effective.

Establishing a cohesive plan to initiate and execute the four critical systems is one of the fundamental elements of running a successful campaign.  Without these critical systems in place, your campaign is dead in the water.  If you’re thinking about running for public office and would like to speak to one of our consultants please feel free to send a message by clicking here or give us a call at 202.567.7872 Monday through Friday 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM CST.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *