Pathway to Victory: Research, Research, Research…

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Solid research is a prerequisite for winning your political campaign. Team SpeakEasy is here to help you dive in and learn exactly what you need to research to win your bid for office. 

Keep reading for a few of the tips you’ll find in 101 Steps to Victory: A How-To Guide for First-Time Political Candidates. This free e-book outlines the 101 most important things a first-time candidate needs to know to keep their campaign on the path to victory. And check back with the SpeakEasier blog in the days and weeks ahead for more of our Pathway to Victory series.

Do you know how many elected officials there are in the United States? So many that nobody’s been able to come up with an exact number. But those who’ve tried to count have put the figure well over 500,000.

With more than half a million elected positions out there, which one’s right for you?

You can narrow the list down pretty quickly based on where you live. But even then, there are seats in the US Congress, state legislatures, city councils, county supervisors, school boards, and more. Some of them may have additional requirements that limit who is eligible to run based on your age or how long you’ve lived at your current home.

While meeting the legal requirements to run for office is a necessary pre-requisite, it’s not enough. You still want to make sure the office you’re running for is the right fit for you.

Thinking back to the reason why you want to run, does this office actually have jurisdiction over that issue? If you win, will it be your full-time job or a part-time commitment? How much does it pay, and is that enough to support your family?

Do your homework.

To be a good candidate, you need to know what you’re talking about. To be a good office holder, you need to know what you’re talking about. Please don’t skip this step. We’re telling you this twice because we have seen so many candidates who didn’t know the basics about the offices they were seeking because they failed to do their research.

If you are running for school board, attend four to five meetings. Read the agenda packages for the last ten meetings (which you will almost certainly find on the website of your local school district). Spend a weekend reading the last 25 articles published on the school district. Go to the websites of respected organizations following these issues and read their position papers.

Research by talking to ten people who know what they are talking about.

If you are running for school board, talk to current or former school board members. Talk to teachers. Talk to the most active parents. Ask them what they think and what they think needs to be done.

Do some political mapping.

Who are the people and organizations that matter in your race? Unions, local elected officials at all levels, party leaders, community leaders, religious leaders, business leaders, and others. This might be a little daunting for a first-time candidate. But do some research. Who did other candidates list as their endorsers in the past? That’s a great way to start—go through the websites of local candidates and look at who like-minded candidates list as their endorsers. That should be a pretty good initial guide.

Do some self-research.

This can be a tough one, but doing it now will make things easier down the road. Are you on probation? Did you forget to pay your taxes? Are you running for school board but you “forgot” to vote in the last three elections where there was a school bond on the ballot? Seriously—think it through. (And spend a few bucks on an online background check site, except this time—check yourself). If you have something in your background that is going to be a non-starter, don’t run. Pay those taxes. Vote in the next three elections. Wait until you have completed your probation. You are better off waiting until these issues are cleared up.

PRO TIP: Want to make a friend in politics? Ask someone what they think! Experts and voters like to be consulted. Becoming a good listener is a great skill to develop.

Looking for more information about what it takes to run for office? Download our e-book designed to walk candidates through the process of running – and winning – their first political campaigns. And keep your eye out for more from our Pathway to Victory series.

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