In the early stages of a presidential race, candidates try to avoid gaffes and scandals while telegraphing something inspiring. The last thing they want is to be typecast as pandering, fake or creepy. But the ground game is won with grit and strategy – not lofty ideals. That’s why Pete Buttigieg has taken risks without risking his future. Everything he’s done so far has been calculated to win – and it’s working. In an unconventional political climate, conventional measures of success are up for grabs. Who will win in 2020 isn’t necessarily the candidate with the most followers on social media, but the one who can deliver their voters on election day. Here’s how Mayor Pete can pull that off with razor-sharp precision — and what you can learn from him along the way…
What Pete Buttigieg Needs to Win
In every political race, there are pivotal moments that determine who will win – and who will lose. The most important factor in winning a presidential race is turnout. If a candidate can inspire their base to vote, they win and if they can’t, they lose. Moments that boost voter enthusiasm are more important than ever before, especially since the political system is more polarized than ever before. What’s more, the 2020 election will have a record number of eligible voters. which means an even lower voter turnout than in 2016. For Pete, the moment that will make or break his campaign is finding a way to win over a critical state. He needs to find a way to win over voters in a state like West Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Forget About Age and Gender for Now
Age and gender will be important factors once the primaries begin, but they don’t matter right now. What matters in this stage of the campaign is who has the best strategy to win. Instead of focusing on his age and gender, Pete is aiming for a more important demographic: the voter. He’s reaching out to voters in key states to find out what they want and how he can deliver it. He’s not pandering with “more free stuff” or by promising to “take back our country.” He’s being strategic – a trait that will serve him well as president.
Hire an Elite Data Team
Data scientists are the new political operatives. They’re the ones who break down voter data to find the right voters to target and the right message to win them over. So it makes sense that Pete’s campaign is built around data – both raising it and using it. People are impressed by how much money he’s raised so far. But the real feat will be when he uses that money to draw the right voters to his campaign. He’s already put his money where his mouth is with a $50 million data-driven investment. He’s also hired an elite team of data scientists to crunch the numbers for his campaign.
Stop Playing Defense: Go on Offense
Pete has been under attack since he entered the race. From both sides, he’s been criticized for his sexuality, his religion, his age, his religion, his youthfulness, and more. During his early campaign, Pete mostly defended himself against these criticisms. It’s understandable, it’s hard to go on the offensive when you’re busy defending yourself. But now that he’s in the top ten, he needs to go on the offensive. For instance, he could turn the conversation around religion by appealing to voters who want a more tolerant, compassionate political system. Or he could shift the conversation to money in politics by appealing to voters who are sick of the current system and want reform.
Establish a Lead Voice in the Room
Every candidate needs to be able to win the hearts and minds of voters, but they also need to win over the elites in their party. Right now, most high-value donors are throwing their money behind more traditional candidates like Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris. But Pete is winning over the elites in his party by speaking their language. He’s not just appealing to voters. He’s appealing to donors, political elites, and party officials. The key to winning over these elites is to offer them something they can’t find anywhere else: a path to victory.
Lock in Early Voter Identification
Voter identification is the art of finding the right voters to win over. But it also involves locking in voters who are already voting for you and turning out your base. For instance, early voter ID could mean finding out if a voter is a Catholic, then appealing to them on the basis of religion, even though they’re not going to vote until next year. Pete’s campaign is working on locking in early voter IDs by identifying the voters who are voting for him now and finding out why.
In every campaign, there are signs that one candidate is winning and one candidate is losing. By the end of the campaign, only one of those candidates will still be standing – and the winner will be the one who has taken these four steps every step of the way. For Pete, the key to winning isn’t changing his tone, his message, or his base. It’s doing the same things he’s been doing all along but doing them even better.