Business, Community & Government

The End of the Race

David Axelrod and Karl Rove

Lesson time 13:59 min

The closing weeks of a campaign are the busiest part of the election cycle. David and Karl lay out what to prioritize as you race toward the finish line.

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Topics include: Closing Weeks of the Race • Election Day • Winning Vs. Losing


The closing stage of a campaign is a very complicated period. You need to have a plan for it. That plan is going to be necessarily complicated, because your candidate is going to be moving around the district or state or the nation at a rapid pace. You're going to have your Get Out The Vote operation, your ground game, cranking at the highest speed it can in order to get every possible vote out. And there's going to be, as a result, a tendency to simply go through the motions and ask for the vote. You're doing all this campaigning. You've got these rallies. And you've got the Get Out The Vote activity going on. And phone banks are operating. And walkers are out there. But at that moment, the campaign needs to take a step back and restate its fundamental premise in a new and different way that causes people to say, aha, I get it. The reason I ought to vote for him or her is x. And that's difficult to do, because you may-- if you're running for president, this is at the end of a two-year process. So you're not only all worn out and spread way too thin, and completely and utterly exhausted, but you also think that you probably said everything you have to say already, and can't come up with a new way to say it. But I don't care whether you're running for state representative, or US president, or city council, or governor. You've got to look at that last week, 10 days, two weeks, and figure out, how can we be new and different and fresh as we come close to the-- as we come down to the closing tape? - Yeah, well, in presidential races in particular, that's the case. I think it's important to remember that just when you are-- just when you think you've said everything that you need to say, a lot of voters are tuning in for the first time. They are living their lives. They're not entirely engaged in what you're doing until they have to be. And so it is really important to restate your message and to freshen it up so that it will get attention. We used different devices in the presidential race. One of which I don't think will ever happen again is a network sold us 30 minutes. And we actually did a 30-minute show with Americans, the candidate. This was, I believe, in 2008. But we did two-minute ads. And we did a whole bunch of things that were out of the ordinary to try and get people's-- the attention of people. A couple of other points. Races are no longer just held on Election Day. Early voting begins in different states at different times. Now, this isn't relevant to local races. You're going to have a uniform set of rules. But even if you live in a state with early voting, you've got to recognize that the closing weeks of the campaign begin earlier. And you need to be in full swing to try and influence those voters who are going to vote early. Identify those who are likely to vote early. Make sure you've communicated with them. Make sure they've got the ballots they need to do so. And the information they n...

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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