News Archive: 2012

How to stop them from stomping out the grassroots

Morton Blackwell delivered this speech at the Second Annual Conservative Leadership Conference, in Washington, D.C. on November 10, 1990.


Knowledgeable conservatives, in moments of candor, will admit our grassroots activity is far less today than a dozen years ago.
Several causes come initially to mind:
We do not have a Ronald Reagan, persuasively reliable on all our issues, around whom to rally.
The success of conservative economic policies has brought an unprecedented period of economic prosperity, lessening our fears for the survival of the free enterprise system.
The success of conservative policies of peace through strength has helped engender the utter extinction of the Brezhnev Doctrine and hastened the collapse of much of the Soviet empire.
Our ancient liberal enemies have ceased to trumpet much of their old ideology and seem to be doing all they can to sound as if they are conservatives on many issues.
Most of these causes are the natural results of successful policies of a newly formed, governing majority coalition, signs of the cyclical process familiar in a healthy, two party system.
When the threat perception declines, activists tend to lose much of their old enthusiasm. Coalition members tend to start bickering.
But these reasons are not sufficient to explain the extent of the current decline in grassroots activism. New governing coalitions in the United States tend to last for a generation or two.
Other factors are at work.
Today I intend to discuss two other factors, the increasing domination of political consultants and growing failure of conservatives to run candidates. These are factors which affect our opponents as well. But the extent of the damage done to us by these two factors is largely in our power to correct.
Webinar replay: Voter goals

Missed last night's webinar? No problem -- watch it whenever you have time today or this weekend. (Click "Read the full story" to get started!)


You'll hear from Bryan Bernys on voter goals.

Bryan is LI's Vice President for the Campus Leadership Program. Bryan came to the Institute with a wealth of campaign experience: New Hampshire Field Director for the McCain 2008 campaign, Field Director for the Tarrant for Senate campaign in Vermont, Campaign Manager for Robinson for Delegate in Virginia, consultant for the Ball for Delegate special election in Virginia, and field staff for the Bush/Cheney 2004 campaign in Michigan.
You can register right now for next week's webinar: voter registration, which will be held live on Wednesday, August 22 at 7pm EST.


Quick tip videos: voter targeting technology and targeting single-issue voters

It’s going to take a lot more than t-shirts, bumper stickers, and yard signs to target voters.


To make the most out of your voter targeting program you must determine how many voters you need to identify, then find what issues motivate them to vote, and finally think outside the box to find the votes to make it to your winning magic number.



LI Graduate Helps Lead the Ted Cruz “Grassroots Army” to Victory

The Lone Star state elected Ted Cruz as its Republican nominee for Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s U.S. Senate seat by a 14-point landslide. Cruz is the favorite for the general election in November.  After all, no Democrat has been elected to statewide office since 1994.


The real story, though, is how a first-time candidate for elected office could pull a Texas-sized upset against the deep pockets and connections of Lt. Governor David Dewhurst.


Just how did Ted Cruz do it?


Last week we explored Cruz’s online dominance led by Leadership Institute (LI) faculty member Vincent Harris.


What pushed Cruz over the top was his get-out-the-vote strategy, helped by LI graduate Nick Dyer. Cruz's story is a classic grassroots one.


“Being right in the sense of being correct
is not sufficient to win,” Leadership Institute President Morton Blackwell
writes in The Real Nature of Politics. “You don’t win just because your heart is pure, even if you can prove logically that you are right. What, then, does determine victory?”


“In our frequent meetings and discussions, we came to our second great conclusion: The winner in a political contest over time is determined by the number and effectiveness of the activists and leaders on the respective sides,” Morton concludes from his 1964 Barry Goldwater campaign experience.


The same is true today.


Voter Targeting 101

If you want to learn more, register for the Leadership Institute’s Get-Out-the-Vote Workshops in battleground states, or for a free webinar this Wednesday at 7pm EST on voter targeting.

Winning an election does not require winning 100% of the vote – only enough votes necessary to win. 
In many cases this is a plurality of the vote.  In other cases when a runoff election is involved, candidates may set a vote goal of reaching a clear majority when it would avoid a runoff election.  In any case, the campaign must determine an exact number of votes it plans to reach to win the election.  (Learn how to do this in a free, live webinar this Wednesday night, August 15.) Voter contact is then aimed at building to the specified vote goal.
Why target?
Campaign resources, particularly time and money, are limited.
Voter targeting makes you more efficient and more effective. You’re more effective because you get the right message to the right voters. You’re more effective because you target your resources at the voters you’re most likely to persuade to vote.
Think of the process.


Webinar replay: Campaign structure and organization

Missed last night's webinar? No problem -- watch it whenever you have time today or this weekend. (Click "Read the full story" to get started!)


You'll hear from Linwood Bragan on campaign structure and organization. Linwood began his political life in 1972. His campaign experience covers management, operations, finance, and grassroots. Twice he has been a candidate himself. He has lectured in 20 states on political activism, finance, organization and elections from New England to the Rockies and the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast.


You can register right now for next week's webinar: determining voter goals, which will be held live on Wednesday, August 15 at 7pm EST.


Quick tip videos: campaign structure and choosing a consultant

Warren Buffett once wisely said, “Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing." Luckily for you, we’ve asked the experts about how to organize a successful political campaign and we’re bringing their answers to you!


Putting together a competent staff and hiring consultants that know what they’re doing might seem like a daunting task, but it can be simple if you follow logical steps. This week’s quick tip videos will help you take the first step in the right direction to build your winning campaign team.




Who's Who on a Campaign

Whether you're watching the news, volunteering at a local campaign office, or organizing your own run for office, it's helpful to know who's who -- and who's doing what! -- on the campaign trail.

So what's the work involved? No matter the size of the campaign, it must focus on 11 key activities, some of which you'll learn about in more detail in the coming weeks:
- planning and strategy
- day-to-day management
- fundraising
- communications
- research and polling
- issues and messaging
- voter contact
- volunteer coordination
- coalitions
- scheduling
- advance
The structure of the campaign and the roles of the staff are based on dividing up responsibility for these 11 key activities.  Before the campaign is underway, the leadership team must decide -- and write down in the campaign -- which person is responsible for what activities.
What activity is the responsibility of a volunteer or a paid staff member?  Will each activity be assigned to a different person or will one person handle multiple campaign activities?
On smaller campaigns, people may fill multiple roles and volunteers may take on substantial responsibilities. But on larger campaigns, this is the general breakdown by job title.
Welcome to Voting Is Not Enough

What will it take for conservatives to win in 2012? It won't be how right we are. It will be how hard we work in the 90-day countdown to Election Day.


Today the Leadership Institute launches Voting Is Not Enough, a special project for campaign season 2012, that will arm activists like you with how-to, practical knowledge to use for your candidate or cause this fall.


As part of Voting Is Not Enough, you'll receive:

- weekly live webinars with expert LI faculty
- writings from Morton Blackwell, the Institute's president
- informational posts on campaign and activism topics
- "quick tip" videos you can use right away
Plus, the Leadership Institute and the Faith and Freedom Coalition will cosponsor Get-Out-The-Vote Workshops in 14 states, starting this week. The goal is to train more than 1,000 activists to host voter registration drives and get voters to the polls on Election Day. Will you be one of them?
The Real Nature of Politics

Staff note: Morton Blackwell's piece, The Real Nature of Politics, is at the core of the Voting Is Not Enough project. As he explains, the winner in a political contest over time is determined by the number and the effectiveness of the activists and leaders on the respective sides. The mission of the Leadership Institute, and this project, increase the number and effectiveness of conservative activists.

What I am about to share with you is probably the most important lesson you will learn at any time in your life about success in the public policy process. 
Conservatives did not understand the real nature of politics for many years and certainly did not begin to teach it systematically until the early 1970s.  

Download the Real Nature of Politics

Many conservatives today haven't learned it yet.
Please bear with me as I begin with the important historical background.  I'll get to the key concepts soon enough.
What was the greatest difference between conservatives who supported Barry Goldwater in 1964 and those who supported Ronald Reagan in 1980?  Most people don't know the answer.
The majority today aren't old enough to remember the 1964 presidential campaign, but Barry Goldwater's book, The Conscience of a Conservative, is still available and widely read.  
Fortunately, most people still remember Ronald Reagan and his conservative principles.
Anyone who supported Goldwater in 1964 and Reagan in 1980 can tell you that there was no significant difference in philosophy between Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.  
You can see this for yourself.  If you read The Conscience of a Conservative, published in 1960, you will see that Barry Goldwater's positions on public policy issues then were very close to those of Ronald Reagan in 1980.
I can tell you from my personal experiences in the 1964 Goldwater campaign and in the 1980 Reagan campaign that there was one great difference between the approach to politics of the Goldwater supporters and the Reagan supporters 16 years later.
The difference was that we Goldwater supporters tended to believe that being right, in the sense of being correct, was sufficient to win.  
We firmly believed that if we could prove we were right, if we could logically demonstrate that our candidate was of higher character and that his policies would be better for our country, somehow victory would fall to our deserving hands like a ripe fruit off of a tree.  
That's not the real nature of politics.  I call that misconception the Sir Galahad theory:  "I will win because my heart is pure."  
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