With Election Day ticking closer, campaigns are focused on nabbing early votes and building GOTV operations. But after the votes are counted Nov. 8, it’s important, win or lose, to wind things down properly so your candidate can be best positioned for future efforts.
From Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz to a city council race, what your candidate does with their website, email list and social media after Election Day is crucial to their political future. (Staffers have their own checklist for what they should do next.)
Sanders has taken a popular route — similar to the one Howard Dean took after 2004 — by shifting his campaign over to a new organization. Dean for America became Democracy for America, and the Sanders campaign has become Our Revolution.
That makes sense for a presidential-level campaign, with volunteers and resources in all 50 states. Note that Sanders isn’t necessarily prepping to run again, unlike Cruz, who is keeping his campaign more or less under direct control. The Sanders social media accounts are still active and in his voice, which makes sense because he’s built an audience he wants to maintain engagement with.
The jewel of the campaign, the email list of supporters and donors, is likely fully shared with Our Revolution. If a local organization makes sense for your campaign to continue your goals, your campaign email list is one of the most valuable assets it will have as a start-up.
If your candidate is thinking of running for office again in the future, he or she will want to keep their social media active like Sanders and Cruz. Make sure that they have full access to everything before the campaign formally ends – if other people were posting to social media and on the website, sending mass emails for the campaign, your candidate will want to make sure they have all logins and passwords to continue, and any instructions needed to operate the mass email software or update the website.
Advise them not to let their email list and social media sit idle for months or years: They’ll decay. They should aim for at least one email a month, if they can, to keep people up to date on what they’re doing on the issues they campaigned on. Social media updates should be more frequent than that – if they don’t have time to put a lot of content out on Facebook and Twitter, perhaps link the two so content is cross-posted. This isn’t generally a good idea, but it’ll do in a pinch.
Moreover, make sure to tidy up the campaign website so it has current content info, and old campaign info is hidden or gone. The site itself should be evergreen enough to carry on for another year or two without touching. Make sure the domain name and website hosting is renewed, and the contact info for the registration goes to a real person so it doesn’t slip through the cracks.
Finally, be sure to shut down any online fundraising pages, remove donate buttons and links from the website and social media so you don’t need to deal with contribution refunds after the fact.
If all this digital infrastructure is properly maintained, your candidate will have a real boost up when running for office in the future.
Laura Packard (@lpackard) is a partner at PowerThru Consulting, a Democratic digital strategy and web development firm.