Campaign Managers

Campaign Mgrs photoAlthough candidates and campaign operatives loosely use the term "campaign manager" to describe the consultant who provides strategy to the campaign, in reality, in any significant campaign, the campaign manager is not the same person as the campaign strategist.

Often referred to as a political consultant or a campaign consultant, the strategist sets the direction or emphasis of the campaign and instructs the candidate in what he or she needs to do or say in unfamiliar situations.

The campaign manager, on the other hand, runs the day-to-day operations, and is ancillary to the strategist in developing a direction for the campaign; although a good campaign manager will routinely provide relevant insights due to their daily involvement with voters, employees, volunteers, and issues.

The Campaign Strategist

Unless we are dealing with a very well financed campaign such as a US Congressional race or a Gubernatorial campaign, the strategist will very likely be working on several campaigns at one time. A strategist will usually not be available as frequently as a candidate might hope. Most of the conversations between a candidate and the strategist are going to be on the phone. In light of these facts, a candidate's expectations of a strategist's involvement in the campaign are seldom met even though the strategist may, indeed, be providing a crucial service to the campaign.

We would note from our observations, that a strategist's insights are based primarily on the following:

  • Demographics
  • Polling
  • Candidate‚Äôs viability
  • Comfort of candidate with campaign imperatives and campaign workers, including the campaign manager and campaign strategist.

The Campaign Manager

A trusted campaign manager is as critical to winning a campaign as is the strategist. Except in very small races, the candidate can rarely handle all the responsibilities of a campaign.

For most campaigns, the campaign manager will be in daily contact with everyone involved in the campaign, including the candidate. The campaign manager is responsible for coordinating the day-to-day activities of the candidate, employees, volunteers, and the campaign in general.

In a small campaign or a campaign lacking resources, the candidate's family or a close friend can occasionally fill the breach in this area.

What Do You Need?

For starters, almost every campaign benefits from a designated campaign manager. Whether that person is a paid worker, a family member or a close friend, every candidate should strongly consider appointing a campaign manager.

Now, what about a strategist?

The following is a very unscientific, anecdotally inspired view of the relevance of campaign strategists to winning campaigns.

  • Good campaign strategists will win somewhat more than 50% of their races.
  • Candidates without a campaign strategist will lose probably 70% of the time.
  • Candidates who have campaign managers, but do not, or rarely, listen to them will lose 60% of the time.
  • Incumbents who have used a campaign manager and/or strategist in the past but now feel that they know how, on their own, to run winning races have a higher chance of losing than an incumbent who uses professional management for an upcoming race.

Probably the best way of looking at it is that a candidate's chance of winning a race is almost always improved by retaining a campaign strategist from the beginning. We feel that if you have the financial resources, hire a strategist; your odds of winning will be increased substantially.

We at Campaign Data have been on the winning side of about 60% to 70% of the 500 or so campaigns in which we have participated. This is not because our data is so significantly better than anyone else's. It is because we are frequently retained by strategists and consultants who, by their knowledge and experience, win more campaigns than they lose, and we wind up being swept along with the winners.

Additional Important People

Perhaps it need not be said, but, if you are married or have a family, those closest to you are actually the most important people on your team. Without a supportive spouse and/or family, your odds of winning are diminished. The last two weeks of a campaign will bring this home to any candidate.

I might mention in passing that a media person is probably the third most important campaign operative a candidate might need.