How to Run for Office: What’s Your Message
by National Democratic Training Committee, @traindems
Focus on the people getting you into office: your voters.
We get it. It is so easy to get distracted on the campaign trail. When you’re talking about the same issues every single day, it’s tempting to go on a tirade about the current administration or your opinions on our relations with Russia. Resist the temptation!
But if you do give in, here’s one piece of advice: Always bring it back home.
Talk about what matters to your voters and issues facing your community. There’s enough people talking about national politics, you don’t need to be another.
As the famous Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill said, “All politics is local.”
People want to know how you’re going to fix the potholes downtown — spend your energy studying up on local issues instead of the ones abroad. You can have all the knowledge in the world about the country’s foreign policy, but it won’t help you on the local campaign trail.
A good rule of thumb is to prepare responses to the top three local issues in your district. This will obviously vary depending on where and what you’re running for, but issues like local infrastructure, public education, and taxes are probably what you’ll be asked about.
I’ll be the first to admit that talking trash about the current administration is entertaining: it’s cathartic, there’s plenty of material to talk about, and it brings Democrats together. While we can all see that there’s truth in this, it can be unproductive on the campaign trail.
Here’s the thing: your supporters know that you don’t support Trump or the Republican government — they know that’s part of why you’re running for office. You don’t need to spend the precious little time voters pay attention to you talking about what they already know.
When you’re out connecting with potential voters, don’t waste your time or theirs trash-talking Trump. Instead, use this opportunity to showcase how you’re going to fix the problem.
Dragging Trump through the mud can get a lot of people fired up, but you need to unite the people to vote for you, not just against the current administration
Stay on message, keep it local, and always bring it back home to why people should vote for you. Good luck!