Successful candidates in all elections must learn how to run effective grassroots campaigns. This means conducting mini-campaigns in each voting precinct in their city or election district.
This applies to both the municipal election this year and partisan races in 2012, although the objectives of a grassroots campaign can be quite different for the two types of elections.
For the municipal election, get a map of your district or city that shows the boundaries of each voting precinct. Then make a list of all your acquaintances, friends and supporters who live in your entire election district or city, and distribute them, based on their home addresses, in the various voting precincts. This shows where you already have supporters or potential supporters, and where you have holes. You’re beginning to build your grassroots army. If possible, recruit a Precinct Captain in each precinct, a person you can trust to run a mini-campaign in each voting precinct.
Next, get a copy of the entire voter file for your election district and list each active voter, again placing them in their respective voting precincts. Now you have a list of all voters, which is your broad target audience although you must narrow it further. Within the list of voters, try to identify individuals by party (you can tell that, in part, by who voted in Republican and Democratic primaries, and by GOP party registration). Also identify, if possible, past political party caucus attendees, party voting precinct officers (chairs, vice chairs, etc.), and any elected officials, religious leaders, and business and opinion leaders who are in your district, again placing them in their respective voting precincts. Your precinct captains can help you identify these individuals. They will know most of them because they are their neighbors.
Now you have a terrific list of your known supporters, active voters, and political activists and community influencers, and you’ve placed them in their voting precincts. Give each precinct captain all the people on your list in that district, with names, phone numbers and addresses. Include instructions on how they will run their own little campaigns in their voting precincts.
Because you are starting your campaign early, you have time to spend time walking in each voting precinct with your precinct captain. Make a special effort to visit the party caucus attendees, opinion leaders, elected officials, and other political activists, because you know they will vote. Don’t waste time with non-voters.
Put together a timeline and plan, using your precinct captains and supporters in each precinct, to do a voter canvass (to see who voters are supporting and what issues they care about), distribute literature, make phone calls, respond to attacks, get-out-the-vote, and so forth, again paying special attention to the political activists and influencersin each precinct. Run aggressive campaigns in each precinct. By asking precinct captains to get e-mail addresses of each voter in the precinct, you can also use e-mail blasts, social networking, and all the latest tools of technology in the mini-campaigns.
This all takes a great deal of time and effort, but that’s why you’re starting early. Candidates who put together an effective grassroots effort as described above will win. In an even-year partisan election, the same process is followed, but the grassroots effort is modified to educate voters and get them to party caucuses in the spring, so that supportive delegates will be selected. Then the grassroots organization is used again in the primary and general elections.