Andrew Boucher on Winning the “First Election Day” – Your Campaign Finance Report
You’re in. You’ve filed your paperwork and opened a bank account. Now let’s get campaigning: Practice your stump speech in front of the bathroom mirror, spend some time working on position papers, get out on the rubber chicken circuit, and order some yard signs.
Right now, your focus should be on winning the “First Election Day.”
There are only two days when you can win or lose your election. Obviously, one of those days is Election Day itself (you know, the one where voters vote and all of that). But the “First Election Day” is less than three months away: It’s the day you release your first campaign finance report.
That first reporting day is the only day – other than Election Day – when you can actually win your election… or lose it.
Campaign finance reports are when you lay your cards on the table. You might have a great resume. It may be your “turn.” Maybe you can deliver a stem-winder of a speech. You might have a small army of grassroots supporters. You may have the best campaign plan, a strong strategy to win, and a hard-working staff. Your wife and children and family dog might think you’re brilliant.
None of that matters right now: You will be judged on whether or not you can raise money early. (Sorry.)
The truth is that the people who can either make or break your campaign are going to be looking at your campaign finance report:
- Party leadership, independent organizations, and political action committees. Don’t delude yourself; the cavalry isn’t on its way. Outside groups are not in the business of funding longshot campaigns. They’re looking for strength. If you’re running in a tough district or competitive primary, they’re looking to back someone who can win.
- The media. A strong campaign finance report makes you a legitimate candidate in the eyes of the media. And in the media, you’re either in the reporting mix, or you’re an afterthought.
- Other candidates and potential candidates. Want to clear the field in a primary? Start by scaring other potential candidates out of the race. If you’ve got a fundraising lead, potential candidates will take a pass. (Even better if you’ve got some of their donors.)
- Your next round of donors. Repeat after me: Nobody wants to be a $3,300 donor to a $50,000 campaign. If you’re not raising money, there is almost no chance that someone outside of your own close sphere of influence will make a major contribution to your campaign.
- Your opponent’s next round of donors. If you have $300,000 and your opponent has $50,000, item #4 above works in your favor. Show fundraising strength early, and your opponent’s money will dry up.
Let me guess: You’re saying to yourself, “This isn’t fair.” Well, in a way, it is fair. Early money isn’t just about the money. It’s an indicator that you’re willing to work hard and grind it out. Nobody likes raising money. Everybody likes making stump speeches. When people look at your campaign finance reports, they’re able to tell whether or not you’re willing to do the hard, painful work to get elected.
What else can someone tell from your campaign finance reports?
They can tell if you’re willing to listen to a good consultant (i.e. someone who tells you to raise money) or if you’ve surrounded yourself with bad consultants, staffers, and yes-men. They can tell if your friends, family, colleagues, co-workers, and business associates believe in you. They can tell if you have ties to activist Republican donors and the local business community and if you’ve been a visible leader within your party. They can tell if you’re serious and if the people close to you take your campaign seriously.
So start thinking in terms of your “First Election Day” – the day you file your first campaign finance report. It’s a day when you can win – or lose – your race, and it’s less than three months away.
The Difference Makers: Ascent Clients Win BIG on Tuesday
In a near-sweep performance, our clients dominated their primaries on Tuesday, taking home nine wins in local elections across Indiana and Ohio.
Notably, in Carmel, Indiana, we were outspent over 6-to-1 and were up against the endorsement of the current mayor. Our client, Sue Finkam, said, “We felt with my marketing background and Kory’s background in running campaigns, if we were super targeted, we didn’t need that kind of war chest. If you target the right voters at the right time in the right way – if you get in front of them in a meaningful way – that’s what we talked about from the very beginning.”
These races were hard-fought, well-strategized, and took good candidates over the finish line. Our team worked hard for these victories and is ready to take on the general election in November. A huge congratulations are in order for the team here at Ascent, these candidates, their volunteers, and all who helped on the road to victory.
Consulting and Services:
Sue Finkam: GOP Nominee – Carmel, IN Mayor
Ronald Morrell Jr.: GOP Nominee – Marion, IN Mayor
Tom Didier: GOP Nominee – Fort Wayne, IN Mayor
John Stehr: GOP Nominee – Zionsville, IN Mayor
Ryan Locke: GOP Nominee – Carmel, IN City Council
Matt Hills: GOP Nominee – Indy City-County Council
Indy GOP: City Council Candidates
Pat Haley: GOP Nominee – Wilmington, OH Mayor
Alyse Rettich: GOP Nominee – Miamisburg, OH Municipal Judge
As a full-service consulting firm, we pride ourselves on our commitment to our clients and industry knowledge. Contact our team today if you’re in the market for top-notch consulting, digital, direct mail, or phone services. We would love to assist you on your road to victory.