How to Run for Congress - Know Your District

Hopefully you’ve already taken a good look at yourself as a potential candidate and you’re sure that running for Congress is the right move for you.  Now it’s time to take a look at the geography of your district.  Know matter how much you think you know your Congressional district, you don’t know it as intimately as a Congressman needs to.  Here are a few steps you need to take before moving on to the next level of the planning process:

  1. Go read my earlier post about studying your political district and apply those principles to your budding campaign plan.
  2. Get online or paper subscriptions to all the local/regional newspapers and magazines.  If you can’t subscribe, be sure to visit the area and pick one up whenever they publish a new issue.  Also, don’t leave local bloggers out of the equation; they can have a significant impact on your credibility as well.  You’ll need these for a variety of reasons:
    1. To keep a finger on the pulse of the local issues.
    2. To start a media list of editors and journalists and begin tracking which writers are on the local political beat.
    3. To begin researching advertising costs for budgeting your paid media strategy later.
  3. Through these publications as well as other online resources, start a campaign calendar and mark all of the public events that would be appropriate for a Congressional candidate to attend.
  4. Get the voter data from the past 3-4 election cycles for your entire district.  This may require visiting several county courthouses, or you may be able to get most of it online.  You want data that breaks down to the precinct level – this is the smallest political district and in a suburban area usually covers a walkable chunk of a neighborhood.
  5. Finally, take some time on the weekends to explore your district.  Take the family for a drive and stop at a random diner.  Not only is it a fun adventure, but it will allow you to see your district with new eyes.  Be sure to talk to as many people as you can – soon you’ll start to see your district through their eyes, and that’s the key to creating a campaign message that wins.

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