Welcome back, Saturday Campaign D-I-Y’ers! For those who tune in, welcome to the Nuts & Bolts of a Democratic campaign. Each week, we discuss issues that help drive successful campaigns. If you’ve missed prior diaries, please visit our group or follow Nuts & Bolts Guide.
We’ve spent a lot of time following what our fictional candidate, Jessica Jones, should be doing in order to win her race for a state Senate candidate. We’ve also covered the importance and plan for county and state parties looking to help Jessica win.
Now that we are in October, some states are early voting and campaign mail is hitting mailboxes. Campaigns are still taking in contributions, but they have to plan where to spend. Let's talk about those last-minute expenditures.
In many states, the track from getting mail ready, prepped and approved by a candidate, state party or any other organization involved can take several days to weeks or more, depending on revisions that may come with mail process. Because of that, planning last-minute mail drops—unless they are cookie cutter programs you have purchased through your state or county party are difficult to jump into at the last minute.
Remember, your campaign isn’t a savings plan. Donors gave you campaign funds believing you would spend the money they gave you to win the election, not save it for a later day.
With that in mind, all campaigns have some last minute campaign expenses. Now is the time to talk about those.
Getting Out the Vote Campaigns
Candidates often turn to last minute expenditures in get out the vote efforts as a way to make effective use of campaign funds. This can include phone bank service, robocalls, and paid canvass. While I am not a fan of robotic phone calls, especially in the era of cell phones, many of these last-minute expenses are a way to try and make sure you bank votes for your candidates.
For Jessica Jones, these expenses are one of the last minute expenses she is planning on making. Jones has committed to join with other candidates in providing a full service phone bank and some funds for a paid canvass in her district to turn out voters. She’ll allocate whatever resources needed toward that effort.
Digital Campaigns Can Get Off the Ground Fast
While mail programs can take significant time to get approved, printed, stamped and delivered, a digital campaign can occur in a matter of minutes. Candidates may be encouraged to pay for increased content on sites like Facebook, Google, YouTube or anywhere else.
With video production cost low at the moment and small state campaigns looking for content they can help make viral, a digital ad campaign can be a solid last minute solution to build name ID and increase voter participation.
Making Sure Expenses & Bills Are Paid
One last minute expense that campaigns often forget is that bills still need to be paid. Campaigns often have outstanding debt to people who put service into a campaign. It is important that you try to pay all the bills you know are outstanding or have a plan to do so. Do not get surprised by a last minute bill you are unprepared to pay.
It is not unusual for a campaign to lose track of expenditures. This is why it is also important to make sure you follow up with vendors and staff who worked for the campaign. From mileage reimbursements to campaign loans, these are the kind of expenses you take care of at the very, very end, days before the election where there are few expenses you can make that will impact the voter totals in your district.
It may be only October 1, but candidates are already thinking of many expenses as last-minute planning. This is the time where you want to make sure that you are doing everything possible to bring home a win. Donors are okay with expenses that don’t work out. Many donors are not okay with campaigns that end up significantly in the black—they wonder why they gave money if you didn’t spend it.
Next Week: Media Responses.
Nuts & Bolts: Building Democratic Campaigns
Contact the Daily Kos group Nuts and Bolts by kosmail (members of Daily Kos only).
Every Saturday this group will chronicle the ins and outs of campaigns, small and large. Issues to be covered: Campaign Staffing, Fundraising, Canvass, Field Work, Data Services, Earned Media, Spending and Budget Practices, How to Keep Your Mental Health, and on the last Saturday of the month: “Don’t Do This!” a diary on how you can learn from the mistakes of campaigns in the past.
You can follow prior installments in this series HERE.