Business, Community & Government

Identifying Influencers

David Axelrod and Karl Rove

Lesson time 11:35 min

Karl teaches you how to identify and leverage the organizations and individuals who can positively influence your campaign.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Determine the People of Influence • The Value of Endorsements • The Question of Special Interests


As a campaign gets organized, it's got to think through what are those influencers. What are those places-- Democrats, you've got to make certain you touch base with the unions. And, Republicans, you got to make certain you touch base with small business leaders and evangelicals. You know, there are different groups that are important to different parties, and then there are groups that are important to both parties in a district or state. And candidates have to think those groups through and then systematically work them by making them part of their schedule. I remember when Bush was running for governor, there's a East Texas county in which we were trying to-- trying to make certain that he knew all the people in the community who could spread the word that he was worthy of support. There was a Democrat state representative there, a conservative. He's a friend of mine. I called him up and said, look, I don't mean to get you in the middle of this, but would you mind giving me a list of the people, if we come to Palestine-- who should George W. Bush see about his race for governor? He said, let me think about it. He called back. He said, look, I'm going to help you put it together. And so we went to Palestine. So the Democrat state representative got a meeting room in the local bank, got the sheriff-- Democrat-- got the district judge-- Democrat-- got the guy-- got the guy who was the chief of the union at the local, uh, railroad company. They had a Union Pacific plant that refurbished all their cars. So he got that one of the lead workers and the plant's supervisor. He got some prison guards from the nearby prison who were active in organizing senior members of the prison guards, the corrections officials. He got the local Baptist preacher, got the preacher from the biggest African-American church in town, got a couple of members of the school board, couple of members of the city council, and got them in the room and brought in Bush. And Bush sat there and took all the questions. Democrats, Republicans, people who were apolitical asked him whatever they wanted to ask him. And at the end of it, the county judge, a guy named Bascom Bentley, looks around the crowd and says, I don't know about you, but I think we ought to get behind this boy. And we carried Palestine like you wouldn't believe it. Because in a small community-- and a small community's emblematic of a neighborhood. It's emblematic of a bigger-- of something bigger. There were people there who could put out the word. You know, we had the lo-- the guy who had owned a little local radio station and the editor of the local newspaper and the president of the local bank. And they all got a chance to ask him in a private meeting questions. Here is honest answers. And regardless of whether they're Republicans or not, they said, this is a guy who thinks like we do and that we'd be proud to support. If you're trying to work the influencers in your district, realize t...

About the Instructor

David Axelrod and Karl Rove reach across the aisle to offer an inside look at winning campaign strategies. The respective architects of Barack Obama’s and George W. Bush’s historic election victories teach how to develop a campaign platform and reach an audience with consistent messaging. Find the inspiration and tools to get involved at any level, or simply become a more informed, engaged citizen.

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David Axelrod and Karl Rove

Renowned presidential campaign strategists David Axelrod and Karl Rove reveal what goes into effective political strategy and messaging.

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