Winter and end of the year holidays are an unforgiving time for candidates and campaigns. Time and money, the backbone of any strong campaign, obviously suffer due to cold weather and an abundance of holidays. Thinking of asking people to volunteer around Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas, or New Year’s Eve? Forget it. Fundraise around Black Friday or Christmas? Good luck.
Still, the winter lull should not be seen as a time to hibernate. Campaigns and candidates can follow some simple steps to take advantage of this quiet time. In fact, the winter and holiday months can provide invaluable time to prepare for the coming election.
Use This Time to Your Advantage
Winter is the perfect time to fix glaring issues within the campaign, improve opposition research, and strategically plan. The grind of fundraising and public appearances can leave little time to stay informed on hot topics, current events, or other important topics. Use this down time to “study” and stay up-to-date on pressing issues. Also consider this idle time to make adjustments to your outreach efforts or media strategy. Research your opponent: How did they vote on a particular issue? Are they strong or weak on certain policy issues? If the campaign or a candidate needs fine tuning, this is a good time to do it.
Practice Public Speaking
No matter the candidate, public speaking is a must all the time. Winter and holidays offer a chance to practice speaking both in-house and at events that are light on policy and technical jargon. Use the slow time as a chance to craft better messaging and work on debate preparations. Use speeches at holiday celebrations as a forum for practice. Realize areas of improvement and prepare for tough questions, policy areas, and how to make your message easier to understand.
List and Coalition Building
Maybe asking for volunteers and fundraising is a stretch in November and December, but use this time to build lists. Volunteers, “VIP’s,” and even friendly media contacts should all be recorded and easily accessible for campaign staff and the candidate. Consider building coalitions of leaders and stakeholders in different policy areas and industries. Again, use this time to prepare a ground game and see who you should talk to once the holidays and bad weather are over.
If the Opportunity Is There, Go for It
Don’t let this time of year prevent the candidate from getting involved. Churches, schools, and every group in-between celebrate with food drives, fundraisers, and holiday themed events. Enlist your candidate at a donation drive location and invite the press. Pursue speaking opportunities at holiday events and charity dinners. Look to the community to see where the campaign and candidate can interact with constituents.
The holidays are actually a unique time of year for a candidate. Few opportunities offer the potential to interact with constituents in a concentrated series of events. Even if a candidate is removed from the public eye, the campaign should use this time to make necessary adjustments and prepare for the coming months. While it may seem like a good time to take a break, don’t surrender the entire holiday season and beyond.