Strategic Planning - Wins the greatest number of votes
Alice: Which way should I go?
Cat: That depends on where you’re going.
Alice: I don’t know where I’m going!
Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go!
--Paraphrased from Through the Looking-Glass, Lewis Carroll, 1872
Unlike Alice, all candidates clearly know where they want to be--in the winner’s circle. Each of them wants to capture at least one more vote than his or her opponent. Unsurprisingly, after all is said and done, the campaigns that find themselves within the winner’s circle are invariably the ones that planned and implemented clear, obtainable objectives, and precise action steps to achieve those objectives.
Strategic Planning is usually defined as "a process of identifying or defining problems, formulating objectives or goals, thinking of ways to accomplish goals, and measuring progress toward goal achievements" (Middleton and Hsu Lin, 1975). A good political campaign strategy must reflect: the target voters' identified problems/needs; why the campaign’s candidate or proposition is the best solution; how the campaign will communicate this message to both influential and target voters; and much more. Good plans must also outline the management actions to be taken in implementing the strategy. Thus, in this context, campaign planning must include both strategy planning (i.e., what to do) and management planning (i.e., how to make it happen).
Simply put, strategic planning can be defined as the best possible use of available and/or limited resources (e.g., time, funds, and volunteers) to achieve the greatest number of votes. Strategic planning is also an approach to reduce or overcome some uncertainties in the decision-making process by prioritizing actions or interventions, which may produce the most likely positive outcomes or results.
Strategic political campaign plans are created using a mix of deductive and inductive methods. They reflect budgets and analysis of polling information and past campaigns. Feelings expressed by the candidate and the campaign’s Core Group also go into the plan and are evaluated for inclusion based upon past electoral behaviors. A strategic plan must be constantly reviewed, especially at the implementation stage. With so many influences beyond a campaign’s control (e.g., press, opponents, policy changes, special interest groups, etc.), adaptation or modification of a plan may be required at any time.
This is where experience becomes paramount—without it, campaigns often find themselves in a state of "Analysis Paralysis." Our political campaign strategy team has decades of experience in planning and directing campaigns. Collectively, they have experienced just about every imaginable campaign decision-making situation from multiple vantage points.