How to Run for Office: The Definitive Guide [2021 Update]

by Mike Sellers | Last Updated: May 31, 2021

This is a comprehensive guide to how to run for office and win!

In this recently updated guide/ we’ll cover everything you need to know about:

So if you’ve ever wanted to run for school board, city council, or even congress, you are going to learn a lot from this post.

Contents

  1. Chapter 1: The Fundamentals of Running for Office
  2. Chapter 2: Developing your Campaign Message
  3. Chapter 3: How to Manage Your Campaign’s Limited Resources
  4. Chapter 4: Targeting the Right Voters
  5. Chapter 5: Campaign Tactics that Win Public Office

Chapter 1: The Fundamentals of Running for Office

We’re going to start with a chapter on the fundamentals of running for public offic.

Specifically, in this chapter we’ll get into why you’re running, the requirements for running for office, and the homework you need to do before you launch your campaign.

I’ll also show you what is and isn’t actually important when you run for office.

Let’s get to it.

Why do you want to run for office?

The first thing you have to determine is why you want to run. Why do you want to leave your life for the next 2-4 years and put it on hold by giving your fulltime energy, focus and attention to the office you’re running for?

This question seems simple enough, but answer it will provide a lot of valuable information that is useful for yourself and for potential voters.

Maybe you want to run for office because you feel your city needs you. You have unique skills, knowledge and experience that will make you an exceptional Council Member. You know this city inside and out, and you’re committed to making certain every voice is heard.

What are the requirements for running for office?

Running for office is not easy. It takes a lot of time, energy, and money. Additionally, it is important to be aware of the laws governing your campaign finances and disclosures that are required by law. You will need to look up the local requirements for holding office.

You can probably get most of this information for your Secretary of State’s office or your local county clerk. You will want to know. residency, age and any other qualifications. You will also want to begin gathering information on campaign finance disclosure rules

Getting your name on the ballot for any election whether it is local or national takes work. Requirements could differ based on city, state, or federal regulations. If this is your first political campaign these can be some of the most complicated parts of the process.

Doing your homework

Running for office isn’t all about shaking hands and kissing babies.

A ton of research will have to be completed if you want to have a successful campaign and win on election day. When I ran for office back in the summer of 2005, I was amazed at how much I needed to learn in just a few months.

The good news is that almost all of this information should be publicly and freely available. You’ll want to gather the following information:

Of course, some of this may not apply to your race, and I’m probably leaving some stuff out that you will need to research. I’ll try to cover some of those things later in this guide.

What really matters when you run for office

Only two things matter when you run for office.

  1. Staying true to yourself, your supporters, and the people you love.
  2. Knowing the numbers: how many votes you need on election day!

I’ll be upfront with you: if you don’t know the numbers, then it doesn’t matter what kind of a speech you write or how much time you spend talking about issues. You won’t win—your opponent will!

Chapter 2: Developing your Campaign Message

Every good political campaign has a theme and message. A simple, catchy message repeated over and over in all the ads, speeches, and press conferences: “It’s morning in America.” “Change you can believe in.” “Yes we can!” Theme is everything! There are a few reasons why I think a campaign needs a theme. A theme answers questions like, “Why should a voter vote for you?”

In life and in the world of campaigning, we call this “narrative.” Narrative is widely understood as the story or argument that drives all communication and decision-making. Coming up with a theme that makes sense for your campaign is vital to its success.

Chapter 3: How to Manage Your Campaign’s Limited Resources

The world has limited resources. Your campaign will too. Don’t squander them. You have too kinds of resources: Money and Volunteers. You should develop a budget for both.

Come up with a detailed plan of how you will raise and spend money, and how you will recruit and motivate volunteers and use their time. Remember to always thank donors and volunteers.

Chapter 4: Targeting the Right Voters

Who is your audience? Who are you trying to communicate your message to? Realize that there are three kinds of voters:

  1. Those who are with you,
  2. those who are against you, and
  3. those who are undecided.

You have limited resources. You should not waste any on those who are known to be dead set against you. You should not waste too much on those who are known supporters.

The key to victory is to target the undecideds and those who you have a chance of winning over to your side.

Chapter 5: Campaign Tactics that Win Public Office

What methods will you use to get your message to your targeted audience with the limited resources you have? Door-to-door? Newspaper ads? Letters to the editor? Earned Media? Lawn signs? Buttons? Direct mail? Bumper stickers? etc.

How much will these cost? How many volunteer hours will these use? Who will do what and when will they do it?

This is what your campaign is really all about.

This question is so important that I’m going to ask it again: What methods will you use to get your message to your targeted audience with the limited resources you have?

Are You Ready to Run for Elected Office?

I hope you learned something from my guide on How to Run for Office in 2021.

Now I’d like to hear from you:

Is there a topic, strategy or resource I should have included in this guide?

Leave me a comment below, or send an email to [email protected]

And Click the button below to download the full resource guide so you can win your next election.