Post Primary Campaign Checklist by Kelly Dietrich

By at April 1, 2016 | 2:21 pm | Print

Post Primary Campaign Checklist by Kelly Dietrich

Kelly Dietrich Enlarged

The primary is over. Now what? If you are reading this, you likely won. Congrats, but it means nothing unless you win again in November. To help you out, we created a simple campaign checklist of priorities for any candidate to use as the general election approaches.

This is not the time to relax. This is the time to take your campaign to the next gear.

Here are four quick to do’s on your way to the general election:

  • Review Primary Results
  • Set Goals and Plans: Money, Votes, Media, etc.
  • Communicate
  • Update Materials

These all seem pretty simple, but it’s the fundamentals that matter.

Review Primary Results

Lots of quotes work here:

“The unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates

“Those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.” – George Santayana

Primary results can tell you a lot about your future election. This also applies to every aspect of the campaign: field, fundraising, media, etc.

Field: Are there precincts you performed better than expected? Did some underperform? What volunteers were most effective or reliable?

Fundraising: Which lists worked the best? Did mail, email or phone solicits raise you the most money with the least work? What was the best and worst use of your time?

Media: Who covered your race and what effect did the coverage have?

Overall you want to identify what worked, so you can keep doing it, and of course what didn’t, so you can stop doing it – or try to fix it.

Create Plans and Set Goals

Per the GetElected philosophy, every campaign should be run like a business. This means focusing on one goal: Winning. Every successful business operates with a business plan. So should your campaign.

You campaign plan should include vote goals, specific targets, and timelines. It should include a budget and a finance plan, as well as lay out your expected campaign message.

You have no way of knowing how many volunteers you may need, or how many hours it will take to contact enough voters if you do not have a plan. (Shameless plug: Here is a lesson on How to Build a Campaign Finance Plan and a lesson on How to Build a Campaign Field Plan.)


After a big win, or even an uncontested victory, your supporters want to hear from you. Keep the momentum going. Now is the perfect time to send an update email or newsletter to your list.

In fact, start making these updates as regular as possible. Send them every week or two. The more people feel connected to your campaign, the more they are willing to help you win.

Update Materials

If your primary just occurred, chances are your website still talks about primary day or maybe even uses a message aimed at primary voters, not general election voters. This is a problem.

It is time to look through and update all your materials: the website, walk pieces, volunteer literature, fundraising materials, etc.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget that now that the primary is over, you can only take the maximum contribution allowed by law for the general election. Your online donation pages should reflect this change.

There’s plenty of work to be done in the next few months, but with a good understanding of your goals, what works for your campaign, and a plan to get there, you should be well on your way. Good luck!


Kelly Dietrich runs, an online campaign school for candidates of every level to learn how to start, run and win their own campaign. GetElected’s trainings are designed to be affordable, interactive and immediately applicable. If you read this far, you should definitely check them out.

If you really want to know more about Kelly, he politely suggests you may want to consider finding a new hobby as he’s pretty dull. He’s spent eighteen years in politics, which makes him old in the world of campaigns, a fact with which he is slowly coming to terms. In addition to running GetElected, he teaches a political science class at DePaul University in Chicago, IL where he lives. He loves playing poker, Kansas Jayhawk basketball and spending time with his daughter, who he believes may be the smartest, prettiest person on the planet (in his humble opinion.)

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