Positive Campaigns Produce Winners

Posted by on December 24, 2018 at 11:18 AM

By Ted Celeste, National Institute for Civil Discourse.

The National Institute for Civil Discourse established at the University of Arizona in Tucson in 2011 after the tragic shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, has been focused on efforts to help restore civility to our political discourse. As part of that effort, they sponsored two workshops in Columbus, Ohio late this summer designed to provide candidates with training on how to run positive campaigns and win.

Conventional wisdom, from candidates and political professionals alike is that negative campaigns work and positive campaigns don’t. However, recent research has demonstrated that under certain circumstances and with well-prepared candidates, a positive campaign can be a winner.

Of the participants at the two workshops, nine out of eleven who had elections this November won their races. We highlight three of them here. One who ran for the first time, one a seasoned veteran running for re-election, and one a retired legislator who ran for Mayor. In each case they used the tools offered at the workshop to help them maintain their positive focus and end in victory.

In the instance of State Representative-Elect Allison Russo, NICD was assured a victory in her race since her opponent also attended the Positive Campaign Training. Allison’s personal door to door efforts were matched by her opponent. The two candidates found that the pressures of outside PACS and party leaders to take the low road were great. But, in the end, Allison was able to win her first election with a healthy margin.

Maine State Senator-elect, Matt Pouliot, had served as a Maine Representative for several terms and decided to take his positive message to the Senate. Matt had joined the NICD Next Generation program as a facilitator for the “Building Trust through Civil Discourse” workshop and later served as a national co-chair of the National Network of State Legislators Committed to Civil Governance. Matt’s wife, Heather, and NICD Director of State Programs, Ted Celeste’s wife, Bobbie co-led a panel on the role a spouse can play in a successful positive campaign.

Rochester Minnesota Mayor-elect Kim Norton decided to run for office after taking a break from public service as a Minnesota State Representative. Kim had also been involved with NICD as a facilitator for the Next Generation program and continued her facilitation after leaving the state legislature. She also was called on to lead several local discussions on civil discourse while considering her run for Mayor. Kim knew that she would be tested in her efforts to maintain a positive campaign, but her persistence prevailed.

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog post are strictly those of the author and do not represent the views of the Bridge Alliance Education Fund, the Bridge Alliance, or the Bridge Alliance’s member organizations. Additionally, the Bridge Alliance Education Fund makes no representations as to the accuracy of this post’s contents.