Close elections are decided by “undecided” voters who make up their minds two to three weeks before Election Day.
And you can’t reach all those voters in that short window of time by walking door-to-door. You need to reach them via paid media: mail, digital advertising, phone, radio and TV ads.
The operative word here is “paid.” Which means a serious candidate seriously looking to win on Election Day needs to either (a) self-fund their campaign to pay for such ads, or (b) raise money for their campaign to pay for such ads.
Welcome to Harsh Reality 101.
So unless you’re independently wealthy, you need to get over any “I hate asking for money” phobia, bite the bullet, and just do it. Plain and simple.
This is why I like real estate, insurance, car and other salespersons as candidates. They’re used to asking for money and understand that rejection is just part of the game. Candidates who can’t accept that reality probably should stay out of the game.
They don’t say money is the mother’s milk of politics for nothing.
If you’re a candidate who would rather get a root canal than ask for money, but accept it as a necessary ingredient to winning your race, I have some help. Just go to www.CampaignDoctor.com and enter your email address to download my “Fearless Fundraising Formula” special report.
It’s free…so you won’t have to ask anyone for money to get it.
But even if you don’t read the report, here’s the biggest mistake candidates make when it comes to asking for money…
They think it’s all about issues and philosophy.
Sure, that’s important. Just as it’s near impossible to sell surfboards to Eskimos, you’ll find it near impossible to successfully solicit donations from a liberal to fund a conservative candidate’s campaign.
But even if you’re a conservative candidate asking for donations from a conservative donor, simply being philosophically aligned isn’t enough. Because no donor, no matter how wealthy he or she may be, wants to throw their hard-earned money down a rathole.
Only the government likes to do that! (see: public schools)
Campaign fundraising isn’t about what you believe or how you’ll vote if elected. It’s about how you’re going to GET elected.
Which means your “pitch” has to include a REALISTIC estimate, based on historical facts and figures, of how many votes you’ll need to win and what you’ll use the donor’s money for to reach that goal.
Let me give you an example…
Linda Cannon was a Republican candidate running for Nevada’s Assembly District 9 seat in Clark County in 2018. The voter registration numbers were not in her favor. But that didn’t stop Linda from making a compelling case to donors for how she could WIN the race.
Here was her “pitch”…
“The current registration in AD-09 is 39% Democrat, 31% Republican, and 30% other. Based on historical turnout statistics and recent polling in Clark County that gives us an indication of voter intensity, we anticipate a turnout of 59% or 24,035 total voters. With this turnout model, the partisan turnout will be 38% Democrat, 37% Republican, and 25% others.”
Notice the specificity based on actual numbers and realistic estimates. These weren’t pie-in-the-sky figures pulled out of thin air while wearing rose-colored glasses and riding a unicorn.
And she wasn’t that far off, though her campaign – like most others in Nevada – underestimated overall turnout in the 2018 cycle. The actual turnout in her race was 26,801.
“To achieve victory Linda needs 12,266 votes. In order to achieve this vote goal, Linda needs to secure her base and receive 92% of the Republican vote (8,096 votes), 8% of the Democrat vote (725 votes), and 63% of the 3rd party and unaffiliated vote (3,445 votes).”
Again, note the specificity. Linda and her campaign clearly did their homework – something that decidedly inspired confidence in potential donors considering an investment in her campaign.
And although she didn’t win her race, thanks in large part to the higher than expected turnout for Democrats, she came very close to reaching her stated vote goal, pulling in 11,317 votes.
HOW WE WILL ACHIEVE OUR VOTE GOAL
“We will focus the majority of our resources talking to swing voters with persuasive messages and to low-propensity Republicans to try and expand the electorate in Linda’s favor. We have 1,857 voters in the ‘swing’ universe and 6,046 voters in our ‘GOTV’ universe.
We will run a complete campaign to these voters: doors, phones, mail, and digital ads. If we are able to hold our base, win 64% of unaffiliated and 3rd party voters, and expand the Republican electorate by at least 400 voters, Linda Cannon will win.”
THIS is what prospective donors are looking for: Does the candidate actually have a shot to WIN and do they have a realistic campaign plan in place to do so?
THAT’S what gives donors enough confidence to pull out the checkbook.
And pull it out they did for Linda. She raised $45,477.14…including $5,265.36 from donations of $100 or less.
That’s pretty darned good for a first-time Republican candidate in a Democrat-majority district who was running against a Democrat incumbent who raised…wait for it…$319,072.65!
That’s right. Linda was outraised by a factor of 7-1…but nevertheless still came close to achieving her vote goal. Impressive. Had she run in a more competitive district in a different election environment, she’d have crushed it.
The bottom line is this…
If Republicans want to win more races in 2020, especially in “swing” districts, Republican candidates need to take fundraising seriously and stop thinking all they need to do is walk door-to-door.
And taking fundraising seriously means explaining to donors how there’s a realistic chance to WIN and how the donor’s money will be used to achieve that goal.
It’s great that if elected you’ll vote for smaller government, lower taxes and be pro-business. But you have to actually GET elected first. And how you’re going to do that is the message you need to convey to people if you want them to part with their dough-re-mi.
It’s not about what you believe, but whether or not you can successfully achieve.
Coming up in the last of this 7-part series: The worst advice you’ll ever get. Stay tuned, Batfans…