One has to be a little insane to run a political campaign. It’s an organizational and logistical nightmare.
Campaign staffs and candidates run themselves ragged, executing myriad details and activities. It’s worse than drinking out of the proverbial fire hose. Here are some of the tasks that must be executed:
Churning out daily email messages and mailers, scheduling and executing myriad meet-and-greet events with a variety of groups, making fundraising calls and holding fundraising events, preparing for debates and speeches, running an aggressive social media campaign, building coalitions and running campaigns within those coalitions, responding to media requests and issuing press releases, developing a grassroots network of supporters in every voting precinct, developing positions on issues and preparing white papers and issues briefs, conducting and analyzing survey research, reviewing strategy and messaging and making course corrections.
The list goes on and on. Running a campaign is not for those who lack multi-tasking skills. A major political campaign is a complicated enterprise in which multiple elements must be executed simultaneously.
The problem is, a lot of these tasks are terribly boring and tedious. Myriad details must be taken care of, and sometimes campaign workers question whether doing all these little things is really very important, or will make a difference in the end.
Sure, it’s fun to be out doing the big, glamorous, exciting things, like engaging in high-profile debates, making speeches, filming television spots, holding high-level strategy meetings and visiting editorial boards.
But those things won’t win an election unless they are supported by a solid foundation built through a lot of attention to detail, detail, detail—all the little, boring things that ultimately add up to success: developing lists and crunching political data, stuffing envelopes, printing and production, responding to calls, e-mails, and letters, building a volunteer team, following up with donor prospects, proofreading direct mail, recruiting and training grassroots workers, posting several times daily on social media, putting up lawn signs, walking door-to-door, building relationships, and so forth.
Election success usually results from a million little things coming together at the right time. Each of those million little things seems unimportant. But, all together, they add up to a win.
A campaign is hour after excruciating hour of work and more work, with plenty of wondering if you’re making any headway, especially if your opponent is getting more headlines. But if you’re working smart, executing every phase of the campaign, and getting the fundamentals done right, then it will all culminate in a big win at the end.