Campaign Memo 1/4/22
21 Ways to Lose a Campaign

 Every political consultant is prone to spouting off on how to “win” a campaign. But before you march your troops out to “win” we’ve found it helpful to think about ways you might lose, so you can make sure NOT to do them.

So, we’ve cobbled together these 21 ways to lose a campaign. If you’re doing any of these STOP. If you’re not, good for you: DON’T START.

  1. Lie or Shade the Truth

We live in the Information Age. Virtually everything and anything can be easily located in official journals or on a computer. Before attempting to lie or shade the truth, keep in mind that the opposition and the media will always find out the truth. Always.

  1. Manage Your Own Campaign.

Attorneys are particularly prone to this mistake, but many others are capable of it as well. Managing a political campaign above the level of your local school board is a professional undertaking and should be placed in the hands of professionals.

3.Leave Fundraising to Others.

Unlike managing, fundraising is a job where committee members must shoulder a significant part the workload.

  1. Spend a lot of Money on Overhead

Whether the campaign ‘headquarters’ occupies an entire floor of a downtown high-rise or the back room of a small office is irrelevant to voters.Similarly, spending money on lavish graphics and high-end, five-color printing is excessive.

  1. Fail to Say in 25 Words or Less Why Voters Should Vote Your Way

If you can’t do this, nothing else matters. Your campaign will be over before it begins.

  1. Antagonize the News Media

They don’t have to like you, but they cannot dislike you.

  1. Hire a Staff Without Clear Responsibilities.

Campaigns are crazy enough as is. Vague job descriptions not only waste time and resources, but they also spur turf warfare. You are much better off if your staff’s competitive juices are being directed toward winning the election than each other.

8.Leave Confidential Information where it can be stolen or even read

Information is power. and campaign offices are full of people with less than altruistic agendas. Take no chances.

  1. Put a VIP Steering Committee Behind the Steering Wheel.

A VIP Steering Committee is a good place for prominent people willing to donate their name and money to a campaign. They should not be in charge of the campaign.
Leave that to the professionals.

  1. Worry about February “Momentum” in a November Election.

Starting early does not mean treating each day like Election Day. The early months are ideal for raising money, getting petition signatures, devising a strategy, setting vote targets, and building awareness of the issue. If you are making all the right moves early. your polls will show momentum later.

  1. Ask for Contributions Only Once.

Even the postman always rings twice. A fundraiser should call upon people four or five times. If a donor has not given you a flat-out “no” they ultimately may donate. This rule is particularly applicable to those who have already contributed. A contributor who has given once is far more likely to give in the future than someone who has not donated before.

I2. Think Small.

The only thing worse than not asking enough people for money is to not ask people for enough money. It is far better to flatter people by asking them for too much than to insult them by asking for too little.

I3. Take Fundraising Rejection Personally.

People will say no. Sometimes even a lot of people will say no. But if love means never having to say you’re sorry. fundraising means never feeling sorry for yourself. Expect to be turned down a lot. It comes with the territory

I4. Assume a Fundraising Pledge is a Contribution.

People mean well, but when all is said and done there is usually more said than done. A fundraiser should not count money in the bank until it has been deposited

  1. Keep Sloppy Financial Records

Bad bookkeeping not only reduces your ability to raise money in the future, but it can also get you in legal trouble. Get a bookkeeper or accountant.

  1. Give Stories to the Same Media Source Repeatedly

The largest newspaper or media outlet should not receive every hot tip. Otherwise, the others will resent you for always giving the break to the big guy. Even if you save the biggest scoops for the biggest papers or stations toss a few morsels to the smaller sources occasionally.

I7. Go Over a Reporter’s Head.

If you have a serious complaint approach the reporter directly. If you have not complained much in the past and you really believe you have been wronged, you will earn points for expressing your displeasure directly to the reporter’s face.

  1. Ignore Small Details

Little details like what time an event starts and the exact location become magnified when a campaign has 13 events scheduled in a single day. Be sure you precisely know all the details of a particular event

  1. Try to “Wing it” instead of studying for a debate.

This is a surefire way of tanking your campaign with little effort. Just answer a question poorly or try to make something up on the fly. The bottom-line is you must prepare for a debate(s) before stepping out on the stage to meet your opponent. If they prepared and you haven’t it will show and word will circulate

  1. Leak Anything to Anybody

The element of surprise is critical in politics. To maximize the success of an action you should do everything possible to protect the confidential nature of your plans.




About Bob Grossfeld

Robert "Bob" Grossfeld has 30 years of experience as an award-winning, political strategist and media consultant. He has twice served as Senior Advisor to Members of Congress, Special Assistant to the Arizona State Senate Majority Leader, and Communications Director at the Arizona Department of Education as well as the Arizona AFL-CIO. He also launched and was the Publisher of the groundbreaking online political paper, 'The Arizona Guardian." He has produced award-winning media campaigns and strategies for ballot measures, candidates for Congress, Legislature, municipal offices, and Native American Tribes. Bob is President of POLITICARE and Founder of The Media Guys
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