A guest post by Phil Van Treuren

If you’re the type of political candidate who’s working hard and making an effort to actually meet the voters in your district, then personality can play a huge role in how well you do on election day. The kind of character traits that voters like to see in a candidate for public office–optimism, determination, an outgoing demeanor, intelligence–are well known to everyone. Actually making sure that voters get a chance to see that you possess this kind of personality, though, is sometimes more difficult than it might seem.

Here’s one of the downsides of working your hardest in a local election: it really wears you out. Day after day of walking, knocking on doors, making phone calls, writing letters and planning events can take a big toll on a political candidate’s health and temperament. Even if you are a naturally outgoing and pleasant person, it’s difficult to keep a smile on your face when you’re exhausted.

Making sure that your natural, affable personality is still able to shine through even after hours of tiring work on the campaign trail is vital to anyone who plans on running a rigorous political campaign. And the stresses of door-to-door campaigning go beyond just the physical: you can expect to get more than a few doors slammed in your face and some harsh words from residents, as well, regardless of how nice you are.

To make sure that your personality and demeanor aren’t affected by the rough conditions on any campaign trail, I suggest that you force yourself to take regularly scheduled breaks from campaigning. This applies on the small scale as well as the large scale: don’t do more than a few hours of door-to-door campaigning on a given day without taking a breather to regain your composure, and also be sure to take a full day off every now and then during a months-long campaign.

That’s good advice if you already have a personality fit for political campaigning, but what if you just aren’t naturally outgoing and enthusiastic? How does a person without an electric personality appeal to voters in a face-to-face situation?

First of all, not having the most engaging personality in the world isn’t a death sentence for a local election candidate by any means. I can’t tell you how many popular incumbent politicians that I’ve met who have the personality of a telephone pole. Hard work, good fundraising, and pure luck often play a bigger part in winning a campaign than your personality.

That doesn’t mean, however, that you shouldn’t make any effort to seem interesting, engaged and likable to the voters. A lot of voters aren’t necessarily looking for a candidate who is energetic and intense; some people appreciate a calm, measured, pragmatic candidate instead.

While you should try to put on your best face for voters and treat them with respect and kindness, you should never try to fundamentally change your natural personality on the campaign trail.

If you aren’t an enthusiastic, intense person but you try to come across as one when you meet voters, they’ll be able to tell that you aren’t being genuine. Likewise, if you are naturally outgoing and funny, don’t try to recast yourself as a serious, calm candidate for the voters.

Above all else, people want to vote for candidates who are genuine–regardless of what their legitimate personality is like. If you’re not afraid of being who you really are on the campaign trail, then you never have to worry about hiding anything from your constituents.

Phil Van Treuren writes on www.PoliticalCampaigningTips.com.

Phil Van Treuren has worked on dozens of local, statewide and national campaigns over the last 15 years as a volunteer, paid campaign manager and political consultant.
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