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Election Campaign

This document outlines the Project Planning elements necessary to “Run for Election” that will give candidates a roadmap to follow in order to get elected as a Teachta Dála (T.D.),  Local Authority Councilor or a member of the European Parliament.  It serves as a reference for Local/National Election Teams. Canvassers can read through the entire plan so that they have some understanding of the whole process and the success framework in detail. The campaign plan is the foundation to build the campaign upon. A campaign plan created with the help of your advisors, and past candidates gives you the roadmap for the run up until the day of the election and the following week. Some things to taken into account here include:

Political environment – What are the priority issues your voters have? What are your opponents’ issues and policies?

Campaign message and issues – Outline the core message of your campaign. How does it relate to the issues you focus on?

Communication plan – The campaign message distribution methods. How do you plan to get press coverage?

Area Outreach plan – How do you plan your door to door pamphlet distribution using volunteers?

Campaign budget – What would be the budget and estimated cost for every task?

Funding plan – What methods will you use to fund the campaign?

Campaign timeline – How will you meet the deadlines for each milestone and activity?

Staffing – Who do you have to fill the key roles like Campaign Manager and Office Manager?

1.1    Project Initiation

A political campaign can be an exciting experience. A great deal will happen between the beginning of a campaign and a week after Election Day and with a little forethought and planning, you can be prepared for all the twists and turns and, in many cases, control the situation. This plan is designed to help you anticipate what will happen and be better prepared. While the given political landscape is an important factor in any campaign, in many cases the most important factor - the difference between winning and losing - is what goes on inside the campaign.

Are you ready to run for election? It’s critical to make sure that you’ve thought everything through before announcing that you’re running for political office. Here are some considerations:
• understand the time commitment
• fulfill the eligibility criteria to run for election in your area
• be confident that you can balance family life, work life with running an election campaign
• have funds for your campaign

Why Political Campaigns Fail

There are four types of election campaigns that have little or no chance to achieve victory:
1.    The first is the campaign that has no persuasive or unique message to deliver to voters.

The second is the campaign does not have a clear idea of which voters it wants to persuade.
3.    The third is the campaign that has a unique, persuasive message and a clear idea of which voters it wants to persuade but has no practical plan of what to do between the beginning of the campaign and the day of the election, to persuade these voters.

4.    Lastly, the fourth type of campaign is one that has a clear message, a clear idea of its voters and a plan to get to Election Day but it fails to follow through on or execute the plan.

1.1.1      The “As Is” Analysis

On an operational basis record how long you have been operating in the community and the issues you have taken positions on:

Record the actions that you have already taken, in addressing these issues:

Record the successful outcomes you have had to date:

The social issues affecting our community currently are:

The record of the “as is” is an iterative process that you can update as you proceed with further research. 

1.1.2      The “To Be” Analysis

Considering the reasons for failed campaigns the political campaign planned here will be one that takes the time to target voters, develops a persuasive message and follows through on a reasonable and practical plan to engage with and persuade those voters.

This written campaign plan, defines the overall political landscape, the strategy and resources required to get to the day of the election. While it is true that every campaign is unique, there are some basic principles that can be applied to any election campaign. This plan is designed to help you apply these basic principles to your unique campaign. This campaign will communicate a persuasive message to people who will vote. The actual planning process is designed to take the campaign through a step-by-step process to develop a written campaign plan.

This plan cannot give you all the answers to all of the problems your campaign will face. It cannot tell you what your campaign message should be. It cannot tell you who your most likely supporters are. It cannot tell you what are the most effective methods of contacting voters in your region. What it can do is provide the questions that will help you think through the planning process in a thorough and methodical way. BPPM’s methodology or BPPM’s project planning course can help you customise your individual campaign.Too often, politicians “in situ” believe that they hold the winning strategy "in their heads." In reality they have no strategy at all and are wandering aimlessly. Too often the candidate and the campaign manager believe that they are following a single strategy, only to find out later that their opinions about the strategy are completely at odds. A written campaign plan, agreed upon by the candidate, the campaign manager and all the key advisors, would help avoid such problems. The rule is simple - if a plan is not written down, the plan does not exist.

Once you have the written plan, you must follow that plan in a disciplined way. As with any plan, it is only as good as its implementation. All campaigns must be flexible to changing circumstances, but these changes should be carefully considered and weighed against the original research and strategy laid out in the plan. A political campaign is an intense experience and, when done correctly, it is also a lot of hard work. There are no tricks or short cuts to winning the confidence of the voters. A political campaign can also be an exhilarating, rewarding and fun experience.
A poorly planned campaign is often distracted by the day’s events, by things the opponent's campaign does or by things the press says, spending more time reacting to outside factors than promoting its own agenda. Every campaign is different and unique. While certain basic principles can be applied to each campaign, it is important to have a complete understanding of the particular situation and the conditions in which your campaign will be waged. At some point in almost every campaign, someone says, "it is different here" or "you're not taking into account our particular situation." Research is where you start and where you take into account the differences and peculiarities of each campaign. It is here that you have the chance to demonstrate just how different your situation really is.

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