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Running for Office and Analyzing Voters in Your Election
Home News & Society Politics
By: Jack Sterling Email Article
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Sometimes it's hard to tell exactly how many votes you might need to win your political race, even if you do have the campaign finance tools in place to raise a lot of money. Your opponent might be an incumbent who has not had any opposition in the last couple times out. If that's the case, you can look at recent election results from comparable races in nearby districts. For example, look at how many votes it took to get elected alderman in the adjoining wards when the race was contested.

Try to estimate the falloff rate, the voter fatigue factor, in your race. State and national races increase voter turnout, but these part-time voters don't vote in all the races on the ballot. For example, let's look at a sample city with 22,400 voters. In this city, only 14,700 of them voted for president in 2004.

There was also a race for state supreme court on the ballot, but only about 10,000 of them voted in the supreme court race. So although there were actually 14,700 people who wen to the voting booth, 4,700 of them, 32 percent, did not think the supreme court race was important enough to bother voting.

If you are in an "unimportant" race, sometimes called a "low profile" race, there will be this falloff in voter interest, and you have to know approximately how big it will be. No amount of campaign finance prowess is likely to help you overcome this voter dropoff at the polls. The good news is that while there might be a probable lower turnout for your particular political campaign election, that means you will need to get fewer votes to win the race.

All elections boards keep records of the results in every political campaign election going back for several years. These records are public records and can be obtained at you local elections office. The people who work in elections offices are usually pretty good about helping you find what you need. We have always found them to be polite and helpful.

You should keep in mind, however, that elections offices are always in a boom or bust cycle. Shortly before the filing deadline for the primary campaign season they are very busy, so if you go in then and ask to see the statistics, they might give you short shrift.

A week later, they will probably have plenty of time and be glad to help with your campaign issues. The best time is long before the filing deadline, not so much because it is easier for the elections office clerks, but because the earlier you pick your number, the sooner you will know what you have to do to win.

Analyzing the campaign issues and statistics is pretty simple. You look to see how other races turned out, paying particular attention to those years where there were races similar to yours. A three-way race is a lot different than a one-on-one political campaign, and of course the winning number of votes is lower.

If one year there was a hot local campaign issue, like a tax levy, it was likely to have increased voter turnout for that year and you have to take that into account when figuring out how many likely voters there will be in your particular election.

Visit Killer Campaignin to learn more about running for office.

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