Campaign Strategy Essay Research Paper Important Elements

Campaign Strategy Essay, Research Paper Important Elements of a Campaign Strategy Campaigning for any type of elected office requires a sharp eye for detail in regard to what voters are looking for in a candidate. A campaign

Campaign Strategy Essay, Research Paper

Important Elements of a Campaign Strategy

Campaigning for any type of elected office requires a sharp eye for

detail in regard to what voters are looking for in a candidate. A campaign

strategy should be comprehensive in its efforts to reach as many voters as

possible. Yet, without a solid base of ideas from which to expand upon, the

message being conveyed can easily be lost or taken out of context. In order for

a campaign manager to avoid this blunder from occurring and maximize the

candidate’s chances of victory, he or she must pay attention to a few basic

campaigning elements before attempting to stretch the campaign to its maximum

visibility. First, the campaign manager must identify the important issues in

the election as well as the voters supporting the candidate and those who are

undecided. Developing a general campaign theme, preferably one with a catchy

phrase to use in speeches, is the second critical element. Finally, an

important concept that must be incorporated throughout the campaign is the wise

use of the media, both paid and earned.

Identifying the important issues and the voting makeup of the

constituency is a preparatory task that should be done mainly before the start

of the campaign. The decline of partisanship has led to a rise in issue-based

voting, therefore making a candidate’s knowledge of the issues a much greater

factor. Yet, simply having knowledge of an issue is not sufficient. A concrete

stance should be taken on positional issues. The phrase “concrete stance” tends

to imply that the position taken should be somewhat extreme when all it really

infers is that it should be a belief held consistent throughout the campaign.

In all actuality, it is in a candidate’s best interest to avoid taking any

extreme views if at all possible. Recognizing the voters who are supporting

the office seeker is important in managing a campaign because it helps to ensure

retaining those voters. More importantly, the undecided voters or those who are

“on the fence” must be targeted for relentless campaigning. This group contains

the “sway votes” which are an integral part of winning any election.

Understanding the issues and the voters is something that should be done when

running for any office. Obviously, it would be easier for someone in the race

for county commissioner to achieve a sharp awareness of his or her constituency

than it would for a presidential nominee. Still, it is vital for a candidate at

any level to develop a grasp of the different groups that will decide his or her

fate. As stated earlier, this dimension of the campaign process is primarily

dealt with before the campaign commences. Once completed, the popular

definition of the word campaign takes form.

Conveying a message to the voters in the form of speeches, advertisement,

and public appearances is the primary objective of a political campaign. This

lets the public know what any given candidate can offer them if elected to

office. The simplest manner in which to convey whatever message is to

incorporate it into a campaign theme. “It is a serious mistake to assume that

voters are paying close attention to your election, or any election” (Shea 1996,

148). The fact is that most voters do not go out of their way to make the right

voting choice. All a voter wants is a quick and simple reason to vote for a

candidate. If every voter researched the possible candidates before each

election, campaigning would be obsolete. The political campaign serves as a

vehicle to inform voters. The best and most effective way for a candidate to do

this is with a campaign theme. A campaign theme should be general in nature.

It should be an idea that a large group can grab hold of. If the theme

selected is too precise, it portrays the candidate as narrow minded. Simply put,

the broader a theme is, the more voters it attracts (Shea 1996, 150-151).

Naturally, an election on a smaller scale will probably allow a more specific

theme. We have seen the importance of a campaign theme recently in the 1996

presidential election. The incumbent, Bill Clinton made himself out to be a

candidate concerned about our future. He backed this idea with his support of

education. Furthermore, he reiterated this theme throughout the campaign with

his catch-phrase, “Building a bridge to the 21st Century”. His main adversary,

Republican Bob Dole, focused on the issue of taxes and more specifically, his

proposal of a flat tax rate. In contrasting the themes of each nominee, we can

see a glaring difference. President Clinton portrayed himself as the president

that was right for our future. This was something that everyone wanted his or

her president to be. Senator Dole, on the other hand, while focusing mainly on

taxes, shunned many voters that did not see a revamped income tax system as

major concern. Albeit clich?, Clinton’s theme appealed to voters who could not

be burdened with keeping up on complex tax proposals and obscure issue stances.

The growth of the media has made it into a powerful force in politics.

This is especially evident at election time. Candidates can use television,

radio, and the internet as a way of reaching voters with their message by way of

paid advertisement. However, with both candidates usually utilizing the media

in this fashion, it often results in a stalemate. What then becomes

increasingly meaningful is the coverage given to each candidate by the press.

This has been termed “earned” media as opposed to the aforementioned “paid”

media. If a candidate can use the press to shape the image of a likeable and

trustworthy public servant, he vastly improves his or her chances of election.

However, the news media is a “two way street”. Scandal and controversy can also

be exploited by the media, thus greatly reducing a candidate’s chances. The

clever manipulation of the media in order to attract “good press” and deter “bad

press” is becoming an increasingly vital part of a campaign strategy. (Shea 1996,


A campaign strategy is a complex process of acquiring and allocating

resources, polling, image creating, and persuading. The elements discussed here

do not produce a truly comprehensive strategy. However, if adhered to, they

allow for other aspects of a campaign to fall into place.