A winning campaign is all about the unity, calendar, message, and numbers.
But, before we get to the general election, campaigns must get through their conventions.
It will be critical for both parties to emerge from their respected conventions united. If the party is not united behind its candidate it will be difficult to win in November.
A party must be able to count on their base to be successful. The party faithful must return to their states and work hard to push their candidates. The get out the vote efforts are key to victory.
A party has less than 90 days to run a general election campaign and therefore that does not lend itself to division.
A well organized campaign will look at a calendar and plug in important events and dates that are predetermined and work toward trying to influence the outcome, i.e., the convention, Labor Day, Columbus Day, the U.N. General Assembly in New York, The Al Smith Dinner, the debates and Election Day.
Then the campaign will look at events they can plan to influence and drive news, i.e. an economic address to the Detroit Economic Club, The Des Moines Chamber of Commerce, The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, a foreign policy speech and meeting with World Leaders in New York during the General Assembly.
They also will look to bracket and respond to the opposition’s events with surrogate responses. In addition, a campaign must be nimble enough to react to real time events that have a direct impact on the campaign like a terrorist attack, market shifts, job numbers, natural disasters or civil unrest.
Campaigns must be prepared for the “October Surprise,” even if it comes in September. We have seen this manifested in the last presidential cycle when the liberal rag Mother Jones masquerading as a legitimate media outlet leaked the now famous video of Romney making “off the record” remarks at a private fundraiser.
In the weeks leading up to Election Day campaigns better be on their toes to dodge, deflect and fend off attack after attack all calculated at throwing the other off message.
How a candidate and their camps handle attacks can determine how long the story lasts and the damage done.
The message of a campaign must be clear and repetitive enough for voters to understand what a candidate stands for and why they deserve their support.
In the presidential election of 2000 the Bush campaign wanted voters to remember three things about Bush:
- He was a “compassionate conservative,” someone who could bring us together.
- He would “leave no child behind” when it came to education. He would create high standards for education with metrics and results.
- And, he was a reformer; he would work to make government more responsive to the people and more efficient. This year we have an open presidential election. It will be key for the nominees of both parties to emerge from their conventions with not only a party platform but also a message that will resonate beyond their base.
The messages that will carry the day in this election will be one of hope, competence, policy and leadership and most importantly our future. The key issues this cycle will be the economy, jobs, immigration, health care, military, and foreign affairs.
The only way to beat an incumbent is on his record and offering a clear distinction in messaging as to why Americans will be better off making a change.
The third important component to a successful presidential campaign is obviously getting the 270 electoral votes necessary. It is a numbers game and requires a clear understanding of risk, resources and reward. Although we are a nation of 50 states, there are only a handful that will decide the 2016 presidential election.
Battleground states in 2016 include: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia.
There is no secret that 2016 will be a base election.
That is to say that each side must turn out their base in big numbers in these critical battle ground states.
The base turnout must be augmented by Independents. The Republican and Democratic presidential candidates are likely to each get 46 to 47 percent of the vote. That means both campaigns will be fighting over 6 to 7 percent of Independent voters in battleground states.
It is crucial that each campaign have a ground game of get out the vote that is well targeted and executed.
In a base election, where there exists such polarization, another factor becomes more important in the minds of independents — that is the debates.
I believe the three presidential debates and the one vice presidential debate could be the deal maker or the deal breaker in this election. With the polls likely to be tight, the debates become more important than ever for a candidate to break out of the pack.
The few months between the convention and Election Day with be a roller coaster for sure. The candidate that is able to best hold on and remember to work the calendar, message, and numbers to their best advantage will win. It is just that simple — yet so difficult to execute.
Bradley A. Blakeman served as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001-04. He is currently a professor of politics and public policy at Georgetown University and a frequent contributor to Fox News Opinion. Read more reports from Bradley Blakeman — Click Here Now.
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