What Constitutes a Stealth Campaign?

Using the Frank Wolf-Judy Feder campaign as a starting point, the Richmond War Room has emerged from the mineshaft and a self described bout of naked treadmill exercise to spark a discussion about what makes for a good campaign. Not Buck Turgidson asks the question:

What makes a good campaign? Is it possible to run a good campaign without a lot of people seeing it, other than signs and direct mail?Said another way, does a campaign have to make a lot of noise to sway voters, or can it be done one football game, parade, or civic club at a time?

Given that I was stoked on caffeine yesterday AM, I kicked things off with the following (in part, and to the general topic):

Campaigns are a lot like cars. I have owned flashy cars that attracted attention. They also broke down and spent more time off the road than carrying me places. I also once owned a Chevy Nova that attracted derision for its unstylishness, but was dependable and carried me around successfully for years. Which was better to have for the purpose of transportation?I think saying a campaign is running under the radar is a highly subjective analysis. When that analysis is done mainly through second and third hand analysis-as happens so often in the blogs-it becomes even more tenuous.I think good campaigns do win voters one event at a time. It’s a combination of marathon and relay race, with the candidate being handed from one voter to the next over a period of months and years. If done successfully, then the winner is left with a significant foundation for the next go round. Voters react not only to what they see personally, but what their neighbors say, and what their co workers say. They react to a chance to speak with the candidate, to see the candidate in action, and to get information from a non-campaign source. There is a churn effect from that, just as there is a churn effect when a candidate does something great or horrendous and that act is publicized.

Frankly, I don’t see how a campaign can win without doing all these things. That makes them less under the radar than critical and necessary, which means you know the campaigns are doing it even if you don’t see it yourself.

The problem with todays campaigns is we get stoked about the highly visible stuff. Cool, but that is the easy stuff to see. However, consider how many times after an election do we read of how so-and-so visited x number of voters and knocked on this many doors, and this was the key to victory?

Over on my…I have noted many times the fundamental value of the Lincoln 4-Step (ID potential voters, ID favorables, persuage undecideds, get your favorables to the polls). Lincoln laid this out in a letter when he ran for Congress in the 1840’s, and it still hold true today…everything else is just a tool that accomplishes one of these goals.

Why quote myself? Because I can, and the campaign to automobile analogy is too good not use use on my own blog. 😉

Head to the mineshaft and join the discussion!


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