I know it’s hard to believe, but while we’re all frantically focused on November third, our more enterprising municipal candidates are already circulating their 2021 consolidated election nominating paperwork.
And much like eyes are the window to the soul, your signature sheets can reveal a great deal about your impending campaign dynamic. I know the term “political intelligence” sounds a lot like a Carlin-esque oxymoron, but just like it is with professional poker players, the last thing a good candidate wants to do is tip his or her hand.
That said, you’d be surprised how often they do just that!
Since signature sheets are public record, as soon as the Local Election Authority (LEO) posts them I make a beeline for all the circulator sections. Here’s why:
- If the opposing candidate(s) did most of the groundwork, I know I have a battle on my hands. I’ll advise my client that they’re going to have to outwork a determined opponent to win. Conversely, if volunteers secured most of those autographs, then it’s clear that opposition’s heart isn’t really in it.
- Most campaign managers are well aware of the local political operatives and if certain names start popping up as circulators, I know exactly what I’m up against.
- If, particularly in the races requiring the most signatures, the circulators demonstrate a broad spectrum of political support, I will prepare my candidate for a tough battle.
- But the number 3 converse isn’t necessarily true! Smart candidates know that knocking on doors for any reason is just another face-to-face messaging opportunity, so they choose to do most of the signature acquisition themselves.
- On the other hand, if the candidates’ family did most of the circulating, they probably don’t have much party or political support.
The signatories themselves can reveal quite a bit, too:
- If the signers live all over the district, that likely means those names were collected outside a post office, train station, Walmart or grocery store which is a typical novice mistake. Only in-district registered voters can sign those sheets and those too-general locations guarantee neither. So, now I’m looking for a potential petition challenge, and failing that possibility, I know the opposition won’t be much of a challenge.
- If the signers’ addresses proceed up and down district streets in a semi-consecutive manner, then the circulator was using a decent walk-list which means he or she has access to decent voter data. And that makes them a much more formidable opponent.
- Though this rarely happens, if the signatures, or groups of signatures, all seem to have similar handwriting, then it’s really time to issue a petition challenge. Don’t laugh! It happened right here is Kane County, Illinois!
- Similarly – and I’ve seen this happen, too – if very few of the signers live within the district, it’s time to get the opposing candidate thrown off the ballot.
Please stay tuned for Political Lesson #5 – part 2!
If you’re considering running for municipal office, the professionals at Forward Communication perform the most thorough political intelligence. We’ll tell you exactly what you’re up against. Please Contact Us for a free consultation!