September 23, 2014

Yesterday’s post shows the confusion that can surround any campaign. It’s the details that start to slip as you get more and more involved.

It is a simple matter, but it demonstrates the point. If you note yesterday’s post, it was misdated. The reason of such a slip could easily be hidden, changed or blamed on others, but it is a sign of overload on my own part.

I had written the entry for September 21 and then decided to write a new entry to address the fund raising issue (thus delaying the September 21 entry). When returning to the next entry for September 22, the title wasn’t changed.

Small potatoes, I agree, but it demonstrates the point of working at a hectic pace.

The recent surge in the campaign has clearly disrupted the internal schedule. Trying to personally answer emails, phone calls, draft and revise position papers, field media requests, think on issues, and organizing supporters, drives a person in several different directions.

This is where the opponents have a great advantage. They have staffers to write replies, set schedules, even write their homework. You do not have such luxury and need to determine strategies to handle it.

I prefer a micro-management style in that I feel that I, as the candidate, will ultimately be responsible for the campaign. This style is not error free in that overloading tasks makes the finer details less important (the date error and various typographical errors that lace these pages).

While the fast pace keeps you sharp, it also wears you down. Be aware of this.

It is for this reason that the campaign has embraced the independent contractor model. Functions that can be done completely outside the campaign can be taken up by others with their own operations.

For example, we will not be producing campaign trinkets. Instead, we have left that up to the supporters, several of which have decided to make campaign items, and, in free market style, have offered them for sale. Many of these are local businesses, selling the items at cost.

In doing this, we may lose control of the message, but the upside is that we are not bogged down in having to record and report these as campaign contributions. Additionally, if someone is a true supporter, they can directly engage in the campaign.

The idea is to eliminate the middleman. Instead of sending a campaign contribution to the cause, only to have me spend this on campaign signs and spend campaign time distributing them, the supporters can go directly to a merchant and purchase the sign. Not the best method for distribution, but it certainly demonstrates the person’s greater commitment to the cause.

Remember your roots. This is a people’s campaign. It is an attempt to demonstrate that the power is in the individual. As such, we will probably have less sign visibility, but we know that those who did make the effort are strong believers in the movement. They are the rock upon which you build your church.

Which is better? Five signs handed out by campaign staffers or one sign that has a personal investment into it? I want to believe the latter. Also, since in the past our creative signage has often fallen victim to theft, a person who directly purchased a sign will have a personal investment in it and will be slightly more protective of it.

On a different topic, it is getting to the point where some polling data may be made available. Everyone has a poll of some sort. The best practice here is to look at the pollster before believing in the data. The result of the poll is just one facet.

The information that went into the poll, usually referred to as the crosstabs, will give you great informational breakdown. Use the crosstabs, even if you disagree with the poll’s outcome. It will contain valuable information for interpretation.

Pollsters have a record of their work. Look at past polls by that person or group. Are they right more than they are wrong? Think of pollsters as weather people. They gather information and make a prediction (although they love to call it a snapshot in time).

Bad polling data is reported with as much frequency as good polling data. Unless you are certain of a clear error in the polling, take what it offers and move on. Don’t embrace it and don’t run from it. Take it for what it is worth.

In this campaign, if there is a credible poll that shows us at or above 10% in the early phase of the campaign, I would be happy. If there are large numbers of undecided, I would be even more elated. The key is always to look at the undecided.

A low, yet respectable poll number, with many undecided is a good sign. It will provide room to grow. A substantial growth in the following poll will demonstrate trending, and an upward trend obviously is a great sign.

Polling below 10% with a low percentage of undecided voters, given a respectable pollster, would be a hard blow to our effort. One clear exception to this would be a poll that you are under 10% but the pollster left your name off the selection of choices. There are other situations similar to this. Watch for them. That is why the crosstabs make all the difference.

In my experience, undecided voters have a tendency to break towards the underdog. People are less willing to tell pollsters that they are voting for an outside candidate and take refuge in stating they are undecided. Never forget this from an independent/third party standpoint.

LESSON THIRTEEN: LEARN THE VALUE OF POLLING DATA. DO NOT IGNORE A POLL THAT HAS YOU IN A BAD POSITION IN THAT THERE IS MUCH TO LEARN IN THE DATA. CHECK THE CORRECTNESS OF THE POLLSTER’S PREVIOUS POLLING SO THAT YOU KNOW HOW MUCH WEIGHT TO GIVE IT.

SINCE GENERAL POLLING DATA IS FREE TO THE CAMPAIGN, GET THE FULL POLL WITH THE CROSSTABS. MAKE A REASONABLE ANALYSIS AND ADJUST THE CAMPAIGN ACCORDINGLY.

Finally, remember that you are an underdog. This is a good position to be in during the campaign. The idea is to keep moving forward. Never give up but always look realistically at the probability of success.

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