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June 16, 2011

Election 2012 Must Dos

Amanda Haddaway

The media has already started gearing up for Election 2012 and we’re still more than a year away from the actual vote. It seems that the hype around who’s running and who’s not starts being broadcast earlier and earlier each election season.


It’s similar to Walmart and Target putting out the Christmas decorations before Halloween. Just how early can we start the madness? Indisputably, the buzz will continue to become more pervasive as we approach November of next year.


It seems there are a lot of Republicans either announcing or doing the dance that usually leads to an official announcement of their candidacy for president. Some voters are already predicting who will win the Republican nomination and expressing their support of the early contenders. Others are undoubtedly a little underwhelmed with the current pool of aspirants. Have no fear, there will be many more who put their names in the ring before it’s all said and done.


Whether you agree with his politics or not, President Barack Obama ran an extremely effective campaign in 2008 and will likely mount an equally aggressive one against any contenders this time around. Any Republican who wants to successfully compete against the incumbent president will need to carefully analyze what worked for the president’s last campaign and emulate those techniques.


One area of particular concern is the ability of a candidate to get people to the polls. President Obama was most effective in mobilizing a portion of the population who had never before felt compelled to vote. Voter turnout was at an all-time high in many areas that had historically been abysmal.


How did he pull off this feat? He inspired people and motivated them to get off their couches and head to their polling location. Again, whether you like his political manifesto or not, there was something about President Obama that appealed to a large portion of the electorate.


For Republican candidates, it will be imperative to find this same sort of call to action. Relying on the same ol’ campaigning techniques will surely result in failure.


Another area with which the Republicans need some help is their command and usage of social media. This isn’t just for kids anymore and any viable candidate will need a strong social media strategy.


Voters and news consumers want immediate access to what’s going on and social media has provided a platform for instantaneous news. Score one for the president here, too. Savvy candidates will need to find money in their campaign accounts to pay for social media expertise. It’s perfectly acceptable for the actual candidates to not have a good grasp on Facebook, Twitter and other popular social media sites, but they must have a team waiting in the wings to manage and facilitate this type of communication.


The Republican nominee will need to appeal to unaffiliated voters, as well as those who deem themselves Tea Party participants and moderates. It won’t be an easy deed, but if we’re going to continue with a two-party platform, the Republican candidate will need to appeal to a majority of the people within the Tea Party movement, as well as have an appeal to those who don’t accept any party label.


Some more moderate Republicans may be turned off by the likes of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Minnesota Congressman Michele Bachmann. Likewise, some voters who consider themselves to be die-hard Tea Partiers may be turned off by a more moderate candidate. Striking that delicate balance will be an incredibly difficult task, but the Republicans can’t afford to put forth a candidate who doesn’t have broad-based appeal.


The 2012 election will also see one of our Maryland U.S. Senate seats on the ballot. Democrat Ben Cardin will face-off with a Republican challenger, among others.


Former U.S. Secret Service agent Daniel Bongino announced his candidacy a few weeks ago and looks to be a promising contender. His campaign is being chaired by former Maryland Governor-hopeful Brian Murphy. Expect more news and announcements from this camp as the campaign continues. Mr. Bongino is currently making the local television and radio circuit and has posted initial issues statements on his website at He’ll have an up-hill battle in a historically blue state, but Senator Cardin is far from a lock in this election.


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