Remarks by Ron Nehring at CPAC 2013
Today our focus is how conservatives and Republicans should go about choosing the best candidates for public office in the months and years ahead.
I reject the notion that, everything else being equal, a candidate becomes more electable as they move further to the left. Rudy Giuliani and Richard Riordan were elected Republican mayors of heavily Democratic cities, defeating candidates who were more liberal and ideologically closer to their constituents.
Philosophy is very important, and for many people drawn to the conservative movement, it is the most important quality in a candidate. But philosophy is only one of several factors that contribute to a candidate’s overall strength or weakness on the battlefield. Philosophy, competency, the candidate’s personal narrative, and external political environment are all wheels that spin independently of one another, yet all directly influence the outcome.
Americans are dramatically changing the way they receive and value information, and Republican leaders need to shift their communications strategies to match or else risk having their messages heard by a diminishing number of voters.
The shift involves not only where voters are turning for news and information, but also which sources they value. Recent election results underscore the need for Republican candidates, elected officials, consultants and campaign managers to adapt. It’s a process that’s more difficult than it may appear at first glance.
Let’s have a look at the data.
Trend #1: Voters are turning away from traditional media outlets like TV and newspapers and toward Internet and social sources. This trend is reflected among all age groups, with voters under 30 leading the way. In 2001, only 18% of voters under 30 considered the Internet to be a primary news source. Now, it’s 65%. Here are the numbers from the Pew Research Center:
by Ron Nehring
If you’re doing your job as a candidate or party leader, you’re going out speaking with a lot of people you haven’t met before. When they don’t know much about you, it’s human nature to make quick judgments based on what little information they do have.
First time candidates, particularly for local office, often send signals that undermine credibility among potential supporters, costing them votes, volunteers, donations, or all three.
People make decisions based on cues and signals, and initial impressions can have a lasting impact. Here are eight unforced errors you can easily avoid.
Loner = loser. Speaking at the Chamber of Commerce lunch? Showing up by yourself tells everyone you have no supporters in the room. Instead, arrive with a volunteer whose job it is to accompany you while you’re chatting with people, helping in taking down notes for follow up, and carrying endorsement cards. When working a crowd and confronted with that weirdo who wants to chew your ear off about privatizing sidewalks, have your body man leading you, setting up the next person to talk to, and politely motioning you to the next person when he sees you’re pinned down. Bonus: Let a member of the group you’re speaking to know you’re coming, and have him meet you at the door when you arrive and walk in together to show other members you have support already.