How Winning Candidates Talk to Voters of Another Party

As a candidate for office you’re going to run into voters of a different political party affiliation. Even if you’re campaigning for a non-partisan office, a number of voters are going to want to know which party you belong to. What do you tell a voter who’s not registered with the same party? How do you respond without running the risk of losing their vote?

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You answer honestly.

If you’re talking to a Democrat and you’re a Republican, say so. If you’re at the door of a Republican and they ask, state that you’re a Democrat.  If you’re not affiliated with either major American political party, let them know.

Will this hurt your chances of getting elected? Possibly, but it’s not as likely as you probably think. At the same time, lying to a voter about your party registration creates a much bigger chance of hurting your chances of campaign success.

You must be ready to answer the “what party are you?” question when it comes up, especially from voters not of your party. Running for office in America, you’re far more likely than not to talking to a voter who does not share your political ideology.  According to Pew Research, in 2014 “39% Americans identify as independents, 32% as Democrats and 23% as Republicans.”

Very few voters have the rigid party loyalty that once existed. Swing voters cross party lines often. They are the ones who can make or break elections. That’s why campaigns covet these voters so much. These voters aren’t looking for party cohesion. They’re seeking leadership. And leadership starts with honesty.

We’re all sick of politicians who will say anything to get elected. You’re probably running for office because you are too. So when the question comes up as to your party affiliation, say very clearly what it is. If you’re running for a non-partisan seat, you can preface your answer by stating that this is a non-partisan race, then state your affiliation.

Do not hesitate when answering this question.

This is just as important as telling the truth when answering. Hesitation will raise questions in a voter’s mind about your integrity. They will think you are hiding something.

Hemming and hawing rather than answering directly, will make them wonder if you’re telling the truth. Even if you are, and you don’t answer this simple question without hesitation, you will have already undermined your credibility with the voter.

If you’re talking to a hard-core partisan of any party, it may be extremely difficult to convert the voter to your side. As much animosity as Bernie Sanders’ supporters had towards Hillary Clinton, it’s far easier for them to vote for her than for the Sanders voters to get on the Trump Train or vote for any Republican.

But most voters are not hard-core partisans. Most voters want to elect someone who shares their concerns and has a plan to fix them. That’s why it’s so vital that you have a good campaign story before you start communicating with the voters. If you’ve put together your winning story, and possibly done a poll, you know what is worrying or angering the voters of your district.

You’ve also developed a plan to fix the problem. Your plan should clear, concise, realistic, and achievable. Presenting this plan is what gets most voters to support you regardless of your party affiliation. How do I know? Because I’ve won plenty of local races where a Democrat won in a predominantly Republican area, and vice versa.

They won because they told the truth to voters who wanted to know their affiliation, they knew what issue or issues troubled the voters, and they had a good plan to fix the community’s problems.

With that in mind find out what is angering, frustrating, or bugging your constituents.  A poll is the most efficient way to do this. If you can’t afford a poll, then you need to be out there talking to plenty of different people in your community and find the common source of their pain. Then develop your plan.

Sharing the concerns of the voters you want to represent and having a plan to deal with those concerns, will do marvels for your campaign. So much so that you can wind up with voters who do not share your political ideology supporting you because for a Republican/Democrat/Libertarian/Green/Independent, you’ve got some good ideas.

And that’s how you win elections.