You are the #1 fundraiser yourself. You must have substantial financial support to compete. It was estimated early in 2007 that the major candidates for 2008 will spend ONE BILLION dollars in their campaigns. As they say, at that rate, pretty soon we’re talking real money.
You must have an overall plan which outlines expenditures month by month. It is imperative to have even more money on hand at the end of the campaign for an advertising blitz when the voters are most attentive and the field of candidates has been winnowed out. Half of a campaign funds go to media.
Failing to do well in early caucus and primary contests means more than losing delegates — it means that contributions stop.
Your speeches have to be a fun, and match the meal and drinks — don’t be heavy and too political. Actually, you have to run two campaigns (a political campaign and a fund-raising one) and you must win both; if you raise less money than your opponent, you lose, because you don’t have enough money to inform, influence, and motivate your voters. If you are a Senator or a Congressman, you already have an advantage in money (free postage on mail sent to your constituents, automatic media coverage) and you can use your congressional staff to assist your campaign. Besides, you are interviewed by reporters for free as an elected official. You can also ask your political party for a contribution to your campaign. Party money can be given in two ways — as a “direct” contribution or as a “coordinated” expenditure. Direct contributions are funds given by the party to candidates to do with as they please. Coordinated expenditures are made for such services as polling and TV advertising, but the party has a say how the money is spent.
Then you have to ask PACs (political action committees) to fund your campaign, too. PACs are special-interest groups which consist of people who pool their money in order to contribute it to candidates or political party committees who share their political, social, religious or economic views. PACs include corporations, trade unions, professional associations and groups composed of political conservatives or liberals, or people who share the same ideological views on women’s rights, gun control, the environment, civil rights, etc. Remember the “women factor”: there are more women than men in our country, women are more likely to be registered to vote, and among registered voters women are more likely to vote. An additional source of money is “soft money” contributions. “Soft money” is supposed to be used for the party-building activities, but often ends up supporting the campaigns of individual candidates.
The key rules in fundraising are:
- find some “fat cats,” quick
- get fundraisers with lots of rich friends
- get money from those who usually contribute
- go to new York, Florida, California, Texas
And the most important strategy is to raise big money for yourself and prevent big money from being spent against you. Early fundraising is crucial to a campaign because of the high costs organization and the need to demonstrate viability. The best states for fundraising are California, New York, Florida, Texas, which supply half of all campaign donations. Go right ahead and raise money in New York and spend in Iowa and New Hampshire.
To finish well in pre-nomination popularity contests (“straw polls”) you have to appear daily in TV ads, and prime-time news coverage — after the primaries media “label” winners and losers and that affects voters and contributors a lot. Media, especially the most influential “the New York Times” and “Washington Post” (their publications influence decisions on which news stories will be carried on TV channels), have to take you as a very serious contender.
Due to the winner-take-all electoral college system, in which the leading vote-getter in a state wins all of that state’s electoral votes, you MUST win as many large states as possible rather than build up strength in states where you are weak. You have to win a majority (270 of the 538 electoral votes) and for that, concentrate on visits to the most populous states — California, New York, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Georgia 54+33+32+25+23+22+21+18+15+14+13 = 270).
Work closely with your party activists and supporters among Senators, Representatives, Governors, Mayors, ethnic and religious groups leaders, big business, celebrities, unions leaders. Determine the states in which you are the strongest and then build you campaign on that basis. Republicans have usually done well in recent years in the Midwest, West and South (Tennessee, Kentucky, Texas, Oklahoma). Democrats win in the Northeast industrial base, Mid-Atlantic and Pacific Coast. New York City is a very important factor because the most active, influential and rich people live there.
1.9 The Press
The press officer (contacts media, takes care of newspapers, radio and TV ads) — the person who markets you — is the boss of advance team that takes care in each state of a total exclusively positive press coverage. To my mind, the best choice for this position is a former journalist with good wide connections to media. He prepares press releases and press kits and schedules interviews and press conferences with the positive vision and attitude reporters (press or media kits contain your photos, a brief biography, campaign position papers, printed brochures and names of contacts for additional information).
The technique in good paid advertising is to go with those ideas, arguments, thoughts, themes and believes in which people are already inclined to believe or ready to accept. There’s no difference between commercial and political advertising — you just substitute a car or shampoo for a human being. Modern presidential campaigns center on “media events” — staged public appearances, during which reporters can talk with you and take pictures (if you have too much money, you can organize media wave — a very large amount of political advertising on TV). Then, the “walking tours” must be scheduled when you, followed by reporters, photographers and TV crews visit potential supporters.
Simultaneously your aide sets up press conferences, selects interviews, and background briefings. You have to talk to press 24/7 and everywhere on the campaign bus, train or plain, hotel, etc. A good thing is — you get free media coverage and people trust it more than paid coverage, like TV and radio commercials. You are most likely to win if you obey these rules:
- if you can manipulate media — you manipulate the nation (sorry, it’s harder to manipulate free coverage).
- the media makes the election, not the voters
- a presidential campaign does not allow for privacy
- newspapers put emphasis on issues, TV on image, style and ability to communicate.
- never lie to reporters; they will make sure it backfires on you sooner or later.
- if an influential newspaper, radio or TV station endorses you, you have their supporters, readers, listeners and viewers.
- people remember much better what they see, not what they read; if they don’t see you on TV, you don’t exist.
- TV talks to 98% of Americans and takes your message — and other messages about, or against, you — immediately, straight to the nation.
- TV, not your political party, is the #1 channel of communication between you and the public
- your political party is nothing but a service center and a money machine. Parties divide the nation while your message has to be one of unity.
- take it seriously if The New York Times takes your opponent seriously.
- it’s important to know what your opponent is saying to reporters privately, “not for attribution.”
- if you live in heavily populated state, like New York, California or Texas, you start the presidential election campaign with much better coverage.
- never fight the media like the Nixon administration did — they kept a list of Nixon’s critics (famous reporters), so they could be targeted for harassment, accused of income tax evasion, etc. What happened then? The reporters felt like heroes, Nobel Prize winners. Better target them for buttering up, and feed them lots of stories with a spin in your favor, instead.