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Presidential campaign button for Abraham Lincoln, 1860. The reverse side of the button shows a portrait of his running mate Hannibal Hamlin.
This article is part of the Politics series
Finance Grassroots fundraising
Management Opposition research Consultation
Message Advertising Canvassing Election promise Getting out the vote
 Campaign message The message of the campaign is what ideas that the candidate wants to share with the voters. The message often consists of several talking points about policy issues. For example. Some examples of political campaigns are: the effort to execute or banish Socrates from Athens in the 5th century BC. political campaigns often refer to electoral campaigns. the opposition party will try to get the candidate "off message" by bringing up policy or personal questions that are not related to the talking points. Politics is as old as humankind and is not limited to democratic or governmental institutions. Political campaigns also include organized efforts to alter policy within any institution or organization. Most campaigns prefer to keep the message broad in order to attract the most potential voters. The points summarize the main ideas of the campaign and are repeated frequently in order to create a lasting impression with the voters. In many elections. In democracies. in the election of 2008 John McCain originally used a message that focused on his patriotism and political .Lawn signs • Negative campaigning Attack ad Fear mongering Push poll Smear campaign Voter suppression Key people • • • Candidate Campaign manager Campaign staff Politics portal v•d•e A political campaign is an organized effort which seeks to influence the decision making process within a specific group. the uprising of petty nobility against John of England in the 13th century. wherein representatives are chosen or referendums are decided. A message that is too narrow can alienate voters or slow the candidate down with explaining details. or the 2005 push to remove Michael Eisner from the helm of The Walt Disney Company.
Barack Obama ran on a consistent. not a politician. John Doe has missed over fifty City Council meetings." "As our society faces a rapid upswing in violent crime and an ever worsening education system. simple message of "change" throughout his campaign. we need leaders who will keep our streets safe and restore accountability to our schools. How can you lead if you don't show up? Jane Doe won't turn a blind eye to the government.  Campaign manager Main article: Campaign manager Successful campaigns usually require a campaign manager to coordinate the campaign's operations."  Campaign finance Main article: Campaign finance Fundraising techniques include having the candidate call or meet with large donors.  Soundbites The habit of modern Western media outlets (especially radio and television) of taking short excerpts from speeches has resulted in the creation of the term "soundbite". Modern campaign managers may be concerned with executing strategy rather than setting it . . the message is refined and then becomes his or her political agenda in office. John Doe is that leader. His background in finance means he can bring fiscal discipline to state government.  Organization Main article: Political campaign staff In a modern political campaign.experience. Examples might include: • • • "John Doe is a businessman. it will assure the candidate a victory at the polls. Apart from a candidate. later the message was changed to shift attention to his role as a "maverick" within the political establishment." "Over the past four years.particularly if the senior strategists are typically outside political consultants such as primarily pollsters and media consultants. the campaign organization (or 'machine') will have a coherent structure of personnel in the same manner as any business of similar size. For a winning candidate. If the message is crafted carefully. and courting interest groups who could end up spending millions on the race if it is significant to their interests. sending direct mail pleas to small donors. they are often a campaign's most visible leader.
so that the Regional can report that all Field Organizers in the region recruited 52 total volunteers for said event. and being arrested (or otherwise becoming a potential easy target for opponent smear campaigns).this is increasingly an issue in offices that are wirelessly connected.  Campaign Ethics and Campaign Time Modern political campaigns have set new standards for how successful campaigns are conducted day-to-day. non-press-shop members talking to the press. he will be required to report this at 8:45pm to his Regional Field Director. the true believers who will carry the run by volunteer activists. The campaign is conducted in what would seem to the public like pseudo-military style. Political consultants Main article: Political consulting Political consultants advise campaigns on virtually all of their activities. and do other things which are not effective to do . Consultants conduct candidate research. which needs to be reported to the Deputy State Field Director by 9:00. a Field Organizer may have collected 9 new committed volunteers for an event during the day. etc.) . organizers at all levels may do paperwork. doors knocked. most often. volunteers recruited. blogging (considered another form of "talking to the press. and opposition research for their clients. talking to a superior's superior who happens to be a friend in order to get special favors or report information). For example. and often has no definite beginning or end. so that your numbers reporting (generally the last action a political campaigner takes before COB) can be factored into theirs. "COB" ("close of business"). so that THEY can speak to the State Field Director at 9:15 and report that 827 volunteers have been recruited for events around the state. call friends. and an extended daily schedule that starts early and ends much later than most "day jobs. The daily schedule of a political campaign is hyperextended. COB for political campaigns is generally defined as "the time at night at which your supervisor is required to report his/her numbers" (or shortly beforehand)." Prohibited actions may include. only a series of tasks to be completed by certain benchmark times (or. but are not limited to: lying about numbers generated (e.  Activists Activists are the 'foot soldiers' loyal to the cause. voter research.g. and so on. without direct oversight.g. going outside the chain of command (e. with a strict chain of command. phone calls made. up the chain of command. zero tolerance for certain prohibited actions. from research to field strategy. send emails. Such volunteers and interns may take part in activities such as canvassing door-to-door and making phone calls on behalf of the campaign." which can interfere with message discipline). Once each of these reporting sequences is finished.
 Mass meetings. The avenues available to political campaigns when distributing their messages is limited by the law. television. such as attending an important meeting. These techniques are often combined into a formal strategy known as the campaign plan. a certain block of time (usually ending at 8pm or 9pm) is set aside each night for "voter/volunteer contact. and raise money. available resources.  Techniques Democrat John Edwards makes a campaign speech in Pittsburgh. A campaign team (which may be as small as one inspired individual.) Only a very small fraction of campaign workers (such as people who deal with vendors) do the bulk of their work during traditional business hours. Campaign advertising draws on techniques from commercial advertising and propaganda." Political campaigns are generally about contacting voters and volunteers at the nuts-and-bolts level. rallies and protests .during business hours or "voter contact time. The plan takes account of a campaign's goal." (Violation of this block of time to conduct other activities often cannot happen or needs a strong justification. and so dependent on state law. or a heavilyresourced group of professionals) must consider how to communicate the message of the campaign. etc. The campaign will typically seek to identify supporters at the same time as getting its message across. radio. message. These ads are designed by political consultants and the campaign's staff. Pennsylvania in 2007.) to influence the decisions made for and by groups.  Media management The public media (in US parlance 'free media' or 'earned media') may run the story that someone is trying to get elected or to do something about such and such.  Campaign advertising Main article: Campaign advertising Campaign advertising is the use of paid media (newspapers. and resources available. local peculiarities and the preferences of campaign organizers and volunteers. recruit volunteers. and the imagination of the campaigns' participants. target audience.
or overwhelming rival candidates’ offices with mischievous phone calls (most political parties in . and solicited or unsolicited bulk email  Through a new technique known as Microtargeting that helps identify and target small demographic slices of voters Through a whistlestop tour . through the number of people in attendance. rallies and other similar public events (if enough people can be persuaded to come) may be a very effective campaign tool. particularly on a small scale. online communities. Communication technologies such as e-mail. such as debates or speeches.Holding protests. by volunteers) By distributing leaflets or selling newspapers Through websites.  Husting Main article: Husting A husting. volunteering. the support that the campaign has.a series of brief appearances in several small towns Hampering the ability of political competitors to campaign. community building. was originally a physical platform from which representatives presented their views or cast votes before a parliamentary or other election body. the term may now refer to any event. during an election campaign where one or more of the representative candidates are present. by such techniques as counter-rallies.a traditional campaign activity • • • • • • Writing directly to members of the public (either via a professional marketing firm or. or the hustings. and organizing. By metonymy. These Internet technologies are used for cause-related fundraising.  Other techniques Greeting babies . picketing of rival parties’ meetings.  Modern technology and the internet Main article: Internet activism The internet is now a core element of modern political campaigns. lobbying. and podcasts for various forms of activism to enable faster communications by citizen movements and deliver a message to a large audience. Holding mass meetings with speakers is powerful as it shows visually. web sites.
Remaining close to or at home to make speeches to supporters who come to visit as part of a front porch campaign.• • • • • representative democracies publicly distance themselves from such disruptive and morale-affecting tactics. campaigns in most states must have a strategy in place to impact early voting. getting interviewed in the paper.  Campaign types  Informational campaign An informational campaign is a political campaign designed to raise public awareness and support for the positions of a candidate (or his party). in reference to the baiting technique) as a way of commuting a competitor's popularity into campaign donations. and free advertising. An informational campaign typically focuses on low-cost outreach such as news releases. previously known as 'absentee ballots' have grown significantly in importance as an election tool.S. campaigns in person with a farmer in Crossville. Tennessee (photo by Dorothea Lange) . Today. but is less intense than a competitive campaign. Congress in 1938.  Modern election campaigns in the US Main article: Elections in the United States  Types of elections Walter Faulkner. Sale of official campaign merchandise (colloquially known as chum. with the exception of those parties self-identifying as activist ) Organizing political house parties Using endorsements of other celebrated party members to boost support (see coattail effect). volunteer recruitment. candidate for U. which consists of little more than filing the necessary papers to get on the ballot. which aims to actually win election to the office. Vote-by-mail. organizing poll workers. It is more intense than a paper campaign. etc. making a brochure for door to door distribution.
Once a person decides to run.  Process of campaigning US President Richard Nixon campaigns in 1972 by "working the crowd" and shaking hands with supporters. county treasurer. Many campaigns for major office do not progress past this point as people often do not feel confident in their ability to win. This announcement could consist of anything from a simple press release to concerned media outlets to a major media event followed by a speaking tour. friends. Candidates are often recruited by political parties and interest groups interested in electing like-minded politicians. However. they will make a public announcement. some candidates lacking the resources needed for a competitive campaign proceed with an inexpensive paper campaign or informational campaign designed to raise public awareness and support for their positions.The United States is unusual in that there are dozens of different types of elections and political offices available. During this period. with candidates of the same political party challenging each other and in many cases without any campaign references to political parties. Campaigns start anywhere from several months to several years before election day. community leaders. and public image needed to get elected. professional associates. from the sewer commission to the President of the United States. Prospective candidates will often speak with family. The first part of any campaign for a candidate is deciding to run. people considering running for office will consider their ability to put together the money. school board. and the leaders of political parties before deciding to run.g. etc. some offices (e. elected officials.) may be officially non-partisan. county district attorney. county sheriff) may be filled in partisan manners with parties endorsing like-minded candidates and then working on their behalf. organization. At the local level. Major campaigns in the United States are often much longer than those in other democracies. Elections happen every year on many different dates in many different areas of the country. town council. Other offices (e.g... It is often well-known to many people . All state and national elections are partisan (except judicial elections in some states).
coordinating their volunteers in a full court effort to win votes. One of the most important aspects of the major American political campaign is the ability to raise large sums of money. campaigns will launch expensive television. Political insiders and donors often judge candidates based on their ability to raise money. and direct mail campaigns aimed at persuading voters to support the candidate. Also during this period.that a candidate will run prior to an announcement being made. one aimed at mail-in voters and one aimed at the more traditional poll voters. Campaigns sometimes launch expensive media campaigns during this time to introduce the candidate to voters. dominated by professional political consultants using sophisticated campaign management tools. Campaigns for minor office may be relatively simple and inexpensive . although most wait until closer to election day. Voting in the United States often starts weeks before election day as mail-in ballots are a commonly used voting method. Campaigns will often be announced and then only officially "kicked off" months after active campaigning has begun. radio. the United States has a huge number of elected offices and there is wide variation between different states. either to "test the waters" or to keep the media's attention. Campaigns will often run two persuasion programs.talking to local newspapers. The identification of supporters will be useful later as campaigns remind voters to cast their votes. speaking to them in large crowds. small groups. a perception based on their poor fundraising performance. to an extent far greater than elsewhere in the world. or even one-on-one. especially early on in the race. and greeting people in the local square. and municipalities on which offices are . Campaigns will also intensify their grassroots campaigns. The volunteers are also responsible for identifying supporters. but a multi-billion dollar industry.  Political consultants Main article: Political consulting Political campaigns in the United States are not merely a civic ritual and occasion for political debate. Being coy about whether a candidacy is planned is often a deliberate strategy by a prospective candidate. candidates travel around the area they are running in and meet with voters. This allows voters to get a better picture of who a candidate is than that which they read about in the paper or see on television. recruiting them as volunteers or registering them to vote if they are not already registered. counties. Though the quadrennial presidential election attracts the most attention. Not raising enough money early on can lead to problems later as donors are not willing to give funds to candidates they perceive to be losing. Late in the campaign. Campaigns often dispatch volunteers into local communities to meet with voters and persuade people to support the candidate. giving out campaign signs.
due to changing campaign-finance laws. A memorable example are the Swift Boat Veterans who criticized John Kerry in the 2004 Presidential campaign. but also by party committees. While parties play a significant role in fundraising and occasionally in drafting people to run. and other groups (in the 2004 election cycle. increased use of the internet (which has become a valuable fundraising tool). much controversy has focused on a new category of organization.  Other issues and criticisms  Cost of campaign advertising American political campaigns have become heavily reliant on broadcast media and direct mail advertising (typically designed and purchased through specialized consultants). This is sometimes done through independent expenditures made in support or opposition of specific candidates but without any candidate's cooperation or approval. This rising cost is considered by some to discourage those without well-monied connections. Moreover.  Future developments Many political players and commentators agree that American political campaigns are currently undergoing a period of change. The lack of an overt connection between a candidate and third party groups allows one side of a campaign to attack the other side while avoiding criticism for going negative. and direct voter contact. or money themselves. lower-budget campaigns are typically more focused on direct mail.  Independent expenditures Money is raised and spent not only by candidate's campaign. This reliance on expensive advertising is a leading factor behind the rise in the cost of running for office in the United States. 527 groups). campaigns are ultimately controlled by the individual candidates themselves. and the apparently declining effectiveness of television advertising. political action committees. the US has relatively weak parties. smaller. Though virtually all campaign media are sometimes used at all levels (even candidates for local office have been known to purchase cable TV ads). low-cost advertising (such as lawn signs). unlike democratic politics in much of the rest of the world.  History .elected and under what procedures. from running for office.
 Alternatives to campaigning Not all democratic elections involve political campaigning. Often mass campaigns are started by the less privileged or antiestablishment viewpoints (as against more powerful interests whose first resort is lobbying). but political campaigning can occur on particular issues even in non-democracies so long as freedom of expression is allowed. Barkley. Congressional candidate Harley Orrin Staggers. in 1948. perhaps because of campaigns' susceptibility to the influence of money. Truman at the microphone. American election campaigns in the 19th century created the first mass-base political parties and invented many of the techniques of mass campaigning.  See also Techniques and traditions • • • Canvassing Election promise Husting . The first 'modern' campaign is thought to be William Gladstone's Midlothian campaign in the 1880s. From left to right: President Harry S. although there may be earlier recognizably modern examples from the 19th century. Political campaigns have existed as long as there have been informed citizens to campaign amongst. In the 17901820s. Indeed. or to the influence of special interest groups. some democratic elections specifically rule out campaigning on the grounds that campaigning may compromise the democratic character of the elections (Abizadeh 2005). The phenomenon of political campaigns are tightly tied to special interest groups and political parties. Democratic societies have regular election campaigns. West Virginia. and vice presidential candidate Alben W.A whistle stop train tour in Keyser. the Federalist Party and the Democratic-Republican Party battled it out in the socalled "First Party System".
• • • • • • • Lawn sign Microtargeting Political campaign staff Votebank Election litter Home vote turnout Permanent campaign General topics • • • • Activism Civics Lobbying Portal:Politics Examples • American election campaigns in the 19th century .
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