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The key to victory: Dogs

By Joe Curran  www.filpac.com

Think we're kidding?

A couple of years ago we decided to predict the election results by surveying the dogs that we noticed sniffing under the tables at our customers' campaign headquarters.  (Well, OK. We soon discovered the dogs couldn't answer the "push" questions.  So actually it became more of a count than a survey.)

(Well, really it was more of an observation than a count.  But we think it's valid nonetheless.)

Here's what happened: where we noticed dogs, there was an election-night celebration.  Where there were no dogs, there were no wins.


Anyone who's visited a campaign headquarters knows it can become quite a mess, particularly when things get busy. Usually someone takes a few minutes each day to at least get rid of the leftover food. But when things get really busy, the food just sits there.

Pizza crust. Oreos. Half-empty plastic cups of formerly-carbonated beverages. Dried-out chip dip. Those animal crackers you buy in mini-barrels at Costco. Spilled two-liters. That gravelly spot on the carpet where someone dropped a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos.

Where there are lots of people coming in and out of the headquarters, the law of averages says that sooner or later someone will survey the scene and say, "Wow!  The dogs would love this!" So she'll run home, open the tailgate for the elated dogs (who seem to sense something big is at hand) and grab an indolent teenager or two, whose reluctance to get into the car is mitigated by the promise of food.

The formula is simple:

Dogs = big mess = lots of food = more people = excitement

Which is precisely what an underdog challenger needs to win.

Failing to grasp the magnitude of the task at hand is, in our experience, the primary reason why candidates lose. It means they're unprepared to recruit the brigade of volunteers and donors necessary to execute a winning campaign plan in every precinct of a vast district. Campaigning is not a go-it-alone endeavor. It requires people. It requires excitement.

Excitement is the magnet that attracts others. Where there's excitement, people feel they're part of something great.  Which means they'll want to involve their best friends. Canine or not.

Where there's excitement, there's energy and enthusiasm.  The campaign surges into the final weeks with everyone charged by the notion that, yes, we can win! So they'll walk an extra precinct, find more helpers, raise a few extra dollars or make another hundred calls. 

Excitement breeds results.  When you're on the side that senses victory, you're hoping for 25 people at your phone bank, and 30 wander in. Because they want to be there. If your side has it's back against the wall, depression sets in.  Instead of 25 you get 19, who show up because they have to. Instead of 200 reporting for election-day work, you get 150. That creates a performance gap which is reflected in turnout.   Which is what swings the close elections.

The candidate's job, therefore, is to create a recruitment culture that welcomes participation and is organized to leverage the unique talents of every person. And every dog.  Who, after a raucous victory celebration, will be happy to clean up. Tails a waggin'.

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