- Develop a proper division of labor between candidate and manager.
- Given voter data, develop a media mix to support the campaign.
- Use voter data to develop an appropriate (and low-cost) campaign budget, including realistic plans for raising funds
- Develop a plan for maximum utilization of volunteers
- Create a comparative analysis of running election campaigns in different local jurisdictions (in a variety of countries depending on the participants)
This course utilizes the P2PU website and associated tools to maintain asynchronous discussion threads. Should the group so decide and the schedules fit, we may decide to do one or more synchronous sessions through a web conferencing system. Based on peer-to-peer learning, the course organizer will be offering his experiences, but the caveats clearly show that general applicability of the priniciples, strategies and techniques described in the course are limited and that each participant has the responsibility to investigate the corollary information in their local jurisdiction and to share this with the class. Course participants build individual portfolios of election campaign components, such as candidate statements, as well as contribute to the group cross-jurisdictional comparative election campaign management project.
Week One: Understanding the problem
In most countries, incumbency is all-powerful. There are few districts in which there is a level playing field, whether through greater access to media, greater fundraising capability, entrenched party loyalty, or other reasons. In this week, we look at the question, “what do we know about each voter,” in an attempt to be able to overcome natural disadvantages. And we learn how to test our ideas about voters through polling, distinguishing between deceptive “push-polling” employed as a form of voter contact and actual polling in which the campaign wants to understand voters in relation to the issues it hopes to raise.
Week Two: Advance Planning: Voter Data Analysis
The first trick is to know what voter data is publicly available. We will be using California precinct(s) (eg. Neighborhood-level) data because much information is publicly available that allows us to really target voters by their likelihood of voting in an upcoming election. We will discuss the issues involved in this targeting. Are we ignoring some groups that have a lower tendency to vote? Or are we enabling grassroots politics by focusing on fewer voters and thereby lowering the costs of getting our message out?
Materials for Week Two: Sample precinct (atomic unit of voter data) data, actual election results
Week Three: Advance Planning: Budgeting the campaign and campaign fundraising
Wishful thinking is the substance of most local campaign budgets, drawn from hopeful assumptions. In this week, we tackle the importance of appropriate budgeting and how to build a barebones, but effective financial plan.
Materials for Week Three: Sample campaign budget
Week Four: Advance Planning: Voter Contact and the Media Mix
Voter contact breaks down into several categories: direct (e)mail, telephone contact, walking precincts (neighborhoods). The key goal of all activity is to know in advance who plans to vote for the candidate or ballot measure. The result of all activity is to tip the election in our (candidate's) favor on election day by a “get-out-the-vote” effort.
Materials for Week Four: Candidate Statements, Selected Direct Mail, Telephone Script
Week Five: Campaign Organization: Candidate, Manager, Staff and Volunteers
Properly used volunteers can significantly amplify a campaign's message and overcome financial imbalances between competing candidates for the cost of coffee and donuts. In fact, one of the most difficult parts of running election campaigns is to keep all parties focused on their roles. This week we cover the issue of accountability and roles and we discuss the intended result of the campaign's organization and activity: getting supporters to vote in larger-than-normal numbers.
Materials for Week Five: GOTV script.
Week Six: Course Project: Campaign Comparison across Jurisdictions
Assembling all of our previous work, participants will have developed both an individual portfolio and participated in the group project. The individual project is to go through the steps of advance campaign planning, preparing a budget, a sample voter contact script, and a sample campaign flyer among other elements. The group project is to prepare a comparative spreadsheet of our local (and international) jurisdictions. How do campaign tactics and strategy have to change depending on law, culture, and public maintenance of voter lists.
About the course organizer
Larry Cooperman is the director of the University of California, Irvine's OpenCourseWare project. Between 1986 and 2003, he managed or led an area of work for five campaigns in jurisdictions that had between 30,000 and 700,000 voters. Larry learned about election campaigns from people who learned from people who learned from the United Farm Workers' labor organizing campaigns of the 1960s.