Have a strategy to make your political endorsements count
Campaign endorsements can still make a big difference in politics. But for your political endorsements to count, you must have a strategy for gathering and expanding them. Be intentional about what political endorsements matter and how you will use them.
What backups matter?
Sponsorships, when used correctly, are a great way to build momentum, but when used incorrectly, they can be a huge waste of time, overlooked potential, or even gain momentum for your opponent. Good endorsements can come from a local organization, a national organization, a local politician, a party organization, a political club, or just the average person.
What is the theory behind the power of political endorsements?
Sponsors bring credibility and confidence to a candidate who may not be known to a community or constituency. Sponsors can present a candidate to an audience or constituency that may not be familiar to them. Political endorsements also add to a candidate’s early viability, which can be especially important with non-traditional candidates.
Who are good sponsors?
Think about the coalition you want, not the coalition you have. Grow your voter base for the primary and general elections and use political endorsement to expand your base and reach.
Newspaper endorsements are still important in some places
In many markets, newspapers are still important and are the gold standard for political endorsement, but in other markets, credibility has diminished or creates a negative effect. Make sure you know your market and contact local newspapers.
Endorsements from unions and associations
Member organizations have large numbers of voters and many make a meaningful outreach to their members. Under many laws, this outreach to members can be coordinated with the campaign and can utilize the campaign message, as opposed to a standalone spending campaign that cannot be coordinated with the campaign.
Party organization and political club sponsorship
Some political parties support him both in the primaries and in the general elections. The endorsement of a local party can make a big difference; However, they can also sometimes backfire (consider reformist candidates who are opposed to a political machine). In municipal races, clubs and local political organizations can make a significant difference by having a clear group of people who will support an endorsed list. In many places, competing against the party list can also be a source of pride for outsiders and can help more progressive candidates who do not follow the party line.
Unless you are running for president of the United States or for a seat in the United States Senate that is receiving a lot of attention, it is unlikely that a celebrity will endorse your candidacy. If you are in a relationship with a celebrity and they endorse your campaign, be sure to manage your time and don’t let that endorsement be a distraction from the rest of your campaign.
How can political endorsements help me?
Political endorsements can provide many benefits to your campaign, especially if you plan and strategize ahead of time.
Political endorsements can help drive momentum
You can use endorsements to build press, excitement, and early fundraising in a community. You can also have sponsors make a video or ad with a testimonial. This requires some organization, but can be very powerful.
Political endorsements can raise money
A candidate or group’s stamp of approval can allow direct contributions and for you to go to your donors (with permission) and collect even more monetary support to help build your campaign. In primaries and general elections, this can make a big difference.
Political endorsements can boost your field program
Endorsement can mean more than money, volunteers who are part of an organization can give their time and build a greater field presence for your campaign. This means making calls and knocking on doors.
What should I do to make the most of my political endorsements?
Political endorsements (generally) are not simply delivered. You have to work for them! Here are our top tips for securing and getting the most out of your backups.
Practice your promotion speech
It’s critical to be clear about your campaign message and why endorsement is important to your campaign. Give them time and reason for the request (what is the reason you should receive the support, what is your specific request, when do you need the support).
Have a clear question
Know what you want from your sponsors (knocking on doors, giving money, raising money, doing press, giving testimonials, etc.), and be persistent and courteous when asking your question.
Don’t lose your endorsements
Bad campaign behavior can cause you to lose your endorsements. It’s rare, but when it happens, it can help a campaign implode.
Gather individual voter support.
In many smaller races, collecting endorsements through a landing page registration or even handwritten cards can be a great way to engage voters and get them to buy into your campaign.
Be aware of dual backups and non-backups
Sometimes an organization cannot endorse one candidate or must not endorse all candidates. Understanding the politics around each one and why you might want to organize, block, and obtain particular backups will be a critical part of your backup strategy.
Understand the process
Political endorsements are made through a process with clear deadlines and responsible decision-making. Many of these organizations have built processes over the years and have clear ways of measuring the questionnaire and interview. Ask about the process.
Backups don’t happen without a plan and follow-through. Don’t think you can just fill out a questionnaire and get an endorsement; usually it takes more than that. Be sure to call groups, organizations, and newspapers to understand their process.
Don’t make assumptions
Don’t assume that you will or will not get an endorsement. Do your homework and focus your time on the backups you really want. Make sure to keep track of potential endorsements, keep track of them and their decision dates in a spreadsheet.
Be prepared for the political endorsement questionnaires
Decide which endorsements are really worth your effort. Don’t waste time on backups you don’t want or don’t make sense in your career. The process of completing the questions can take a surprisingly long amount of time. Make sure you keep track of your responses and positions and are clear about what you agree with and what you disagree with.
Understand the assets you can use
Once you get endorsed, there may be logos, videos, images, and member testimonials that you can use. Ask what you can and cannot use and make sure you correctly identify the name of the sponsoring entity.
Don’t forget to promote your endorsements
Campaign endorsements are not promoting themselves. The only way to let voters know about endorsements is to tell them yourself. Don’t assume that organizations, politicians, or newspapers will get support. You need your own strategy for promoting endorsements. Your endorsement promotion strategy may include paid digital ads, including static and video. You can also use testimonials in digital and television advertisements. You can create direct mail with quotes and photos from sponsors. Radio testimonials and the use of endorsements at specific event appearances and with field lighting can also be powerful.
Deciding which sponsorships to promote and highlight
All of these promotional tactics can work, but make sure you choose which endorsements to promote and which tactics work for your campaign. If you have a large quantity, you cannot promote all the endorsements and you will not have the budget to use all the promotional tactics, be strategic with your decisions.
Stick with your plan
Having a sponsorship plan and sticking to it is important. Create a content and promotions calendar and make endorsements a part of it. This will allow you to plan the ways in which you will promote your endorsements.
Backup strategy checklist:
● Know which endorsements are politically significant.
● Look for endorsements that could be changed to you from a holder
● Know which sponsoring groups and individuals have real resources.
● Manage the time you spend on recommendations.
● Practice your promotional speech
● Harness the power of sponsorships for fundraising.
● Understand what endorsement could be counterproductive.
● Use backup timing to build momentum.
● Have a simple process for collecting individual backups.
● Know what assets you can and cannot use.
● Promote key supports.
Political endorsements can play a huge role in your overall campaign strategy, but to get the most out of them, you need a strategy. Get more from newspaper endorsements, union recommendations, and the support of elected officials by having your own plan and strategy for receiving and promoting campaign endorsements.
Questions about political endorsements? Send us a note.