Candidates & Campaigns

Every political campaign consists of three essential ingredients: a candidate, an organization and money. To be successful, a campaign must generally have a good candidate, an adequate organization and sufficient resources to make the campaign go. If a campaign is seriously lacking in any one of these three areas, it is in trouble (unless, of course, the opposing campaign is even worse off). Given the choice of a first-rate organization, ample monetary resources or a superb candidate, almost every campaign professional would take the superb candidate. Skilled, effective, attractive candidates can usually raise all the money they need and organizations can be built around them. Making a good candidate out of an ordinary one, however, is difficult to do even with unlimited resources.

Repetitive, persuasive communication with likely voters
If winning is the ultimate goal of a political campaign, the most important instrumental goal is repetitive, persuasive communication with likely voters. A political campaign is like a commercial advertising campaign in many ways. The candidate is the product being "sold," voters are the customers, but instead of their money, a campaign tries to secure their vote. To secure a voter's support, a campaign must communicate a favorable message about its candidate to voters clearly and often enough that the voter becomes committed to the candidate and compelled to vote for him or her on election day.

Message Content
While every campaign will necessarily emphasize different issues or candidate traits in its campaign communications, every campaign has (or should have) five distinct communications objectives.

  1. Establishing voter familiarity with the candidate's name.
  2. Credibly associating the candidate's name with the office for which he or she is running.
  3. Strategically conveying positive information about key candidate attributes, such as leadership ability, trustworthiness and issue positions.
  4. Favorably distinguish the candidate from his or her opponent.
  5. Motivating supportive voters to get out and vote on election day.

 

Headlines, News, & Comentary

Campaigns & Elections Congressional Quarterly

Reasearch and Study Helps

Why are sitting members of Congress almost always reelected?
How does the presidential nomination / delegate process work?
Do negative camping ads work?
How long have Presidential candidates debated each other?

Campaign Finance Reports & Information from the Federal Election Commission

Multimedia

2000 Campaign Advertisement Archive C-SPAN
The Living Room Candidate Collection of Famous Political Advertisements