A major component of every winning campaign is a base of support.
Candidates with a solid, loyal base of support tend to win elections.
But what if you’re just starting out and don’t have a base of support?
Well, you’re going to need to build one.
Here are three groups of people you will want in your base.
1. Family & Friends
Believe it or not, you already have a base of support. They are your family and friends. T
hey likely encouraged you to run for office. Most of them probably support you in all your endeavors.
Not only are family and friends an important part of your base, they are also an essential part of your effort to build your base.
These are your strongest and most loyal supporters. You need them to spread the word about you and your campaign.
They can put signs up in their yards if they live where you are running. They can volunteer to walk precincts and make phone calls regardless of where they live.
They can tell their friends and co-workers about you. They can sing your praises and introduce you to others who are likely to support your campaign.
Your base can and will grow from this.
2. Voters You Meet
If you’ve read a few of my articles then you know I am a total fanatic when it comes to precinct walking, if you live and are running in an area that is walkable.
Candidates who go door-to-door in their campaigns tend to win.
They win because they put in the work, they become familiar with the issues, and they get to know voters on a personal level.
Personal connections between a candidate and the voters is an incredible asset for any campaign.
You need to make it an asset of yours. Your base of support will grow exponentially if you do.
Put on your best walking shoes, gather up your handouts, and get a good list of likely voters then hit the streets.
Knock on the doors of the voters your campaign is targeting. Introduce yourself, tell them what your plan is if elected, but most importantly listen to the concerns the voters have.
This is how you make a personal connection.
Once that connection is there ask if you can count on the voter to cast their ballot for you.
A voter who displays a sign for you in their yard, allows you to publicly list them as a supporter, or both is solidly in your column. They are now part of your base. In both passive and active ways, they will advocate for you.
You can ask them to tell their friends, family members, and neighbors about you. You can also ask who else you should be talking to on the block. Those recommendations are usually golden.
Going door-to-door to introduce yourself and meet the voters takes a lot of work. But candidates who work the hardest have an edge in an election because they are building a base of support from personal connections.
If you’re in an area that’s not walkable, you can host neighborhood meetings and coffees. This is also an effective way to build your base of support.
It can be difficult in getting people to the meeting. You’ll have to invest a lot of time into outreach, sending invites through the mail, with email, and on Facebook.
Turnout may be low at your event, but rest assured that the voters who do show up are interested in what’s going on in the community.
Either that or they are there for the free food, but hey it happens.
The serious voters who show up despite what’s on the menu want to learn more about you, your plans, and tell you what’s bothering them.
Making personal connections with them will to your support base. Make sure you have signs for them to take home and put up in their yards.
3. Someone Else’s Base
A quick way to build your base of support is to borrow one that belongs to someone else.
“How the heck do you do that?” you might ask.
You’re not the first one that needed to build a political base of support. Almost every elected official you know has built and maintained a base of support. Community organizations and labor unions have their bases too.
This is one of the reasons you seek the endorsements of elected officials and interest groups. Their names lend credibility to your campaign. Their respective bases see you have their support and it makes them open to voting for you.
But an endorsement should do more for you than that. You should ask all of your endorsers to introduce you to their bases so you can build a personal connection with those folks.
Have your endorser host a community meeting to introduce you to the members of their bases.
Ask your endorser to email the members of their base asking for support of your campaign.
See if your endorser will introduce you to donors, volunteers, and others with influence in the community you don’t know.
The biggest mistake you can make however is to take someone else’s base for granted.
There are no guarantees that the supporters of any of your endorsers will vote for you. Remember they’re not part of your base, they belong to someone else.
When you are given introductions to members of someone else’s base, you need to actively cultivate them just as you would your own base.
You need to make real connections and bring these individuals on board.
Given their affiliations, they are obviously politically engaged. They can bring a lot of value to your campaign.
Make a personal connection with them, convert them into strong supporters, and watch your base expand and solidify.
Few who have ever sought elected office before had a support base when they decided to run. They built their base slowly, intentionally, and methodically.
You need to do the same.
Bring your friends and family into your base. Add voters you meet as you campaign to your base. Strengthen your base by combining someone else’s supporters to it.
And after you win your election, be sure to thank every member of your base because you literally wouldn’t be victorious without them.