Running for Office to Raise Your Name Identification is a Dumb Idea

People decide to run for elected office for many different reasons.

Some of those reasons are great, some are average, and some are downright dumb.

The dumbest one I hear far candidates say too often is “I’m only running to raise my name identification for the next election.”


If that’s why you’re running – to increase your name ID for a future race – please do us all a favor: Don’t Run!

That’s right. If you’re running in the upcoming election because you want to have a higher profile for the election that comes two or four years down the road, you shouldn’t be running this year.

Why? Because you’re not running to win.

A candidate who is not running win is running to lose.

A candidate who loses is branded a loser.

If you run for office and lose enough times, yes you will raise your name identification for sure.

But you’re name will also be identified as the candidate who always runs and never wins.

You’ll be labeled as the stereotypical “perennial candidate.”

Every once in a while a perennial candidate will win after a long history of losing.

It’s typically a fluke. Most perennial candidates get stuck in the cycle of losing and stay there.

Donors don’t give them money because they don’t like to back losers.

Elected officials and community leaders don’t endorse them because they don’t want their names tied to a loser.

Experienced campaign professionals pass on their campaigns because they’d rather work for a well-funded candidate with a real chance of winning.

Running to simply get your name out there and raise identification is dumb for another very practical reason. 

It doesn’t work!

Voters have a lot on their minds. They have full lives that don’t revolve around politics and elections.

The average person allegedly has the attention span of a goldfish these days.

That’s why winning candidates send tons of mail, make lots of phone calls, blast out text messages, and run an incessant number of advertisements on social media, radio, and television.

They even have to come back to their committed supporters to remind them when the Election Day is to ensure their own supporters show up and vote.

Within three months following an election, most voters will not even be able to tell you who won the election let alone which other candidates ran for office.

Some won’t even recall exactly who they voted for, or at least not accurately. There are plenty of voters who will say they voted for the winner when they did not. That’s because people don’t like to be associated with losers.

I worked for an elected official who served on a city council for 20 years. He was first elected when I was finishing up high school.

I consulted for him on his last two campaigns.

During his last year in office, we commissioned a poll that tested his name identification in the district he’d represented for two decades.

The poll’s purpose was to see how powerful his endorsement of a candidate as his successor might be.

Less than 20% of the voters in this district knew that this gentleman — who had won five elections in the span of 20 years — recognized his name at all!

So if you’re thinking of running for office because you want to inflate your name identification, don’t do it. It’s a waste of everyone’s time, especially yours.

But don’t fret. There’s good news to be had here.

You can still run for office.

You simply need to shift your purpose from increasing your name ID to winning the race.

Because the two go hand-in-hand, but one must be the driving force behind your candidacy.

Deciding to win is the most important thing you can do as a candidate.

Once you do that and show you’re serious about it, your name identification will rise too.

But more importantly, you’ll be positioned to win your election and have a positive impact on your community and the lives of your neighbors.

And that’s always a great reason to run for elected office.