Incumbents who run for re-election usually have a strong chance at the polls. However, some candidates do not capitalize on the constituency work they have been doing while in office. Here we look at some of the elements of constituency management and how they can form the basis for a re-election campaign.
A constituency team should be reaching out to constituents regularly with emails, public meetings, leaflet drops and canvassing to ensure they are kept up-to-date on what is being done for them and what is being done on local issues of importance. This open channel of communication can be built upon by the campaign team when they take over representing the candidate in an election race. It should be remembered that in most jurisdictions constituency work cannot directly be used to campaign. However, the good work achieved by a sitting politician in serving his/her constituency can be built upon by a campaign team.
Any constituent office worth its salt will have developed sophisticated segmentation of their constituent database in order to tailor messages to them. For example, over 65’s might receive a different newsletter to Millennials. Likewise, constituents who are tagged with an interest in, say, environmental issues will be targeted with a ‘green’ newsletter. This understanding of the make-up of the community will be invaluable when campaigning starts and can inform the way in which voter files are initially segmented. It is important to gain as much advantage as possible when compared to new candidates who have never worked with the community in this way.
Tracking specific issues and problems like, for example, street lighting, public order issues and so on, is a constituency office’s bread and butter. What these issues provide is the background and color of the area. What do constituents care about? What are they willing to fight for? What are red-line issues? Knowing these issues inside-out lets a campaign team devise candidate messaging that resonates with voters. Voters want to know you are one of them and you have fought on their behalf on the issues they care about. Smart campaigns drive home that advantage when they ask people to vote for them. Access to the community chest of issues is a powerful tool. Of course, if you don’t engage in issue tracking for your constituents you will be at the same level as everyone else who is running, it’s up to you.
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