Laying the Groundwork

Laying the Groundwork

πŸ“œAbout Campaigning

Campaigners have their own unique language they speak in like any other industry. If your a first time candidate or campaign staff, all this jargon can feel overwhelming. If you ever don't know the meaning of a campaign word, check out Arena Academy's Campaign Glossary which has thorough definitions of campaign's most common terms.

πŸ™‹β€β™€οΈ Deciding to Run

If you believe your district is poorly represented and you have a vision for a better way, you should step up. There’s no guarantee that anybody else will! There is a lot that goes into running for office but there are also a lot of really great groups in progressive politics that want to help you, including us! You can find a list of these groups here.

How do you afford it personally? What if you don’t know the right people? What if you don't think you have the "right" background? You may have those questions, but we think you can do it and we are here to help where we can.

We have resources for every Democrat running for office, no matter how red your district is, and we believe it's important for progressive candidates to make their voices heard even in heavily-Republican communities. We're in this movement for the long haul and believe it's important to run even if there's a good chance you might lose.

πŸ—‚ Filing for Office

Once you've decided to run, you'll need to file to run for office.

  • If you're running for federal office (the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, or the President), you'll need to file with the Federal Election Commission.
  • If you are running for state legislature, statewide office, or a state-level judicial office, you'll need to file with your Secretary of State.
  • If you are running for city or county office, you'll need to file with your local election administrator.

πŸ” Understanding Your District

You already probably feel like you have a pretty good understanding of your district. However, it is always a good idea to take another look at your district and review the demographics, socioeconomic profiles and history of the district. You'll want to make sure that you are consuming media from all over your district including:

  • subcultures
  • alternate ideologies
  • trade publications from popular industries
  • neighborhood newsletters
  • local company press releases

Having 1:1s and house meetings (when safe!) with voters from all over your district will help you better understand how the voters view themselves, the district, the office and what needs to be done by the office you're running for to make their lives better. This process should help you out when you start to plan your campaign and decide what messages you are going to focus on.

πŸ—Ί Choosing an Approach

Everyone will have an opinion about the best way to run your campaign but it's your campaign and you know your vision for the district the best. You'll still need to decide what type of campaign you want to run and what approaches work most effectively. Below are some examples of conventional and unconventional campaign practices and where they overlap.


πŸ’― Setting Your Goals

Knowing what you need to be able to accomplish your goals is critical to running a successful campaign. A few questions you might want to answer as you are make your campaign plan:

  • How many voters will you need to convert to being your supporters (aka persuasion and turnout) to win?
    • How will you convert voters?
      • Knocks, calls, earned media, etc. More on outreach tactics here.
    • To convert those voters, what resources do you need?
      • Money
      • Volunteers and staff
      • Maybe consultants & vendors

Deck has a planning tool that will allow you to set your goal and then save a plan that will get you to that goal. Deck's planning tool allows you to set your budget and tactics. Deck then shows you how to allocate your budget by method and by month. This helps you set month by month goals for field outreach, digital ads, mail, and media coverage.

🧩 Staffing Your program

Campaign staffing can look many different ways and should fit your campaign, whatever that may look like. Conventional paid roles on a major campaign include:

  • Campaign manager
  • Finance director
  • Communication director
  • Field director
  • Data director
  • Digital director

However, your campaign doesn't need all of those roles β€” your campaign structure and staffing can be as nimble and scrappy as it needs to be. Many successful campaigns are run by the candidate themselves and their family and friends. Data and digital roles are sometimes filled by college students that the candidate knows. Communication roles are sometimes filled by a friend who is comfortable and good at writing and talking to reports. Gather the people who you trust and can help you make decisions, knock doors, raise money, coordinate logistics, and fill any other roles as needed.

You should also look into groups like Run for Something and EMILY's List as they may be able to offer you dedicated support, guidance and assist with finding any outside help you may need β€” whether that be staffing, consultants or vendors.

Want to get started with Deck? Schedule a time to talk with us here or email us at!