Sunday, December 30, 2012

How to Win an Election in El Paso

I have to confess, as a blogger I have always loved city elections the most. Yea, they aren't as fun in terms of policy as state and federal elections where I can feed my inner wonk, but everyone loves a good train wreck.

And candidates for city elections have a tendency to be walking train wrecks. Its the place where the ankle-biters, weirdos, nutcases, and the eccentric try their hand a politics.

But since this is the holiday season, I feel like being generous so I'll tell you exactly how to win an election in this town. This is a total freebie people. And don't worry, I'm not giving away the nuclear launch codes here. I'm just telling you what has worked for WINNING campaigns.

#1 - Timing and opportunity. Politics is 100% about timing and opportunity. If these two things don't line up, do not pass go. And an open seat is not opportunity. You're ability to WIN and open seat is opportunity. Or running against a vulnerable candidate.

#2 - Money. Generally speaking the rule is He who has the most money, wins. But if you don't manage the money properly that is an advantage that can be overcome. Just look at Chente Quintanilla and Mary Gonzalez. Those are perfect example of how having a ton of money and not spending it properly will ensure you lose, and how having all the money in the race and spending it properly will ensure you win.

#3 - Messaging. You have to have a message that will resonate with voters. You have to be able to deliver that message in a way that they will understand and which will result in a desired outcome. This part isn't easy and is one of the areas where candidates trip up the most.

#4 - Targeted Universe. If you don't know what this term means then you have no business running because you are going to get trucked. This is the other area where the wheels fall off of a campaign. You can pay political operatives all the money in the world, but if they don't know how to identify a strong, effective targeted universe of voters, they aren't worth a double order from Chico's. They should be tweaking the universe based on any available election data they can get a hold of. A perfect example of this is Jaime Romo. He ran for County Commissioner in Precinct 1 earlier this year. He was young and progressive. Genuinely nice guy that people would vote for. The problem? Bad targeting of voters. He knocked on the door of every voter in the precinct (thats what he said anyway). Huge mistake. My tocayo should've been knocking on the door of LIKELY voters and should've done so more than once. El Pasoans like meeting their candidates one-on-one. They like sizing them up. They like people to ASK for their support. They want to be talked to, not talked at.

#5 - Effective Mail. Your mail has to effectively deliver your message. Its that simple. It needs to be short and make an impact. Sending big long Luther Jones style mail pieces do nothing for you. Mail should be as targeted as your block-walking. And despite the fact that so many people say they don't like negative campaigning, its still effective.

#6 - Commitment. If you aren't committed to winning, don't bother running.

#7 - Effective Media Relations. For the most part, the media in town isn't going to cover your race. Unless you are in trouble, or you can find a way to make them cover it. Media is biased towards one particular candidate or another. Act accordingly and hope you are that candidate.

There, you just saved yourself some money. Now you have to be able to execute. And thats the hard part. Thats the part that determines who wins and who loses.

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