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Are All Votes Equally Important? The Art of Political Triage.

  As a media consultant and advisor during a major political campaign I am often asked to field inquiries from supporters of the candidate. Many have words of encouragement, some have constructiv...


As a media consultant and advisor during a major political campaign I am often asked to field inquiries from supporters of the candidate. Many have words of encouragement, some have constructive criticism and some have serious emotional issues requiring professional attention. If you have ever been part of a political campaign you understand my words.

From the moment campaign headquarters' front door swings open, the nature of the beast is apparent. Imagine the excitement and affirmation felt when the first volunteer walks in to sign up. Now imagine what dark details you might not be aware. Say, perhaps, that this person has been kindly removed from every campaign headquarters in this past thirty years. “People issues.”

Many people don't anticipate having to be a personnel director. But someone has to do it. Read books on the art of rejection: How to fire, how to say no, how to remain polite. Each volunteer has unique motives for helping the campaign. Few are sinister, most are heartfelt and true. Respect the differences, but demand they work within the framework and structure you have put in place.

Despite best efforts, eventually the tough question must be asked: Are all votes equal? The public answer is always Yes. In reality, this is not the case. On some level it is all quid pro quo. You must develop a finely tuned filter – know where to draw the line. Most cold calls and emails will serve only to distract. Have a standard thank you email reply form. End the dialog quickly. Stay true to your message and maintain your campaign's integrity.

Radio stations treat listeners the same way you should treat solicitous voters. They certainly don't play every song request called in. They have invested millions of dollars in staff, equipment, advertising, programming and market testing to target a specific audience. It is important to understand that the typical request caller might not be a good match for the typical listener. Similarly, complaints about the music come from individuals. No matter how many complaints are received, the station knows its music is the best fit for the target audience.

This isn't to say such input should be brushed off. When a listener calls to complain about the music, he is made to feel that action will be taken. When a listener calls to request a song, she is told that it will play soon. Always listening, always placating, always providing a caring voice, but never deviating from the goal.

Take these lessons from radio and apply them to your campaign. Essentially, trust your numbers and demographic research. The angry listener will listen again. Unsatisfied voters will still vote – they called you, not the other guy. Stick with the message your candidate believes in and is supported by numbers.

Oh, and don't put it past your opposition to swamp you with distracting emails and phone calls.

Stay focused. Have responses posted and ready for all negative comments. In the end, they are unimportant.

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Scott Perreault is CEO of ( a Political Advertising Agency and Voice Works specializing in Television, Online Video and Radio. We represent National, State and local candidates or issue campaigns. Over twenty years experience. 2006-2008 Agency of record for U.S. Senate Campaign in Texas. We assist Independents, Republicans and Democrats. services include: Voice Work, Affordable media production in English ($199) and Spanish ($298) Advertising Agency, Polling, DVD Videos for events and Political Consulting. Learn more at:

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