Sample Campaign Memo

m e m o r a n d u m
July 13, 2002

To: State Senator Marilyn Brower
From: Alton Miller
Subj: Health Care Campaign

Senator, your campaign message is Brower: Working to Change your Quality of Life -- a message that lends itself to all of our issues and themes. The purpose of this memo is to urge that we develop, as one of those themes, a game plan on health care, and to outline a schedule of media events.

Situation Analysis:

Our polling and other research shows that your most important group of persuadeable voters is suburban women. Republican and Democrat and independent... young, mid-life and senior... parents, single moms, and those without children... white, black, brown, Asian, straight or lesbian... women of every description are the undecided swing vote in this race.

The same polls show that we have locked down the base vote in the city precincts, guaranteeing you a good showing with about 35 percent of registered voters. Those polls also show that suburban males are going the other way, giving your opponent about 35 percent. It is that 30 percent, largely represented by suburban women, that must be the focus of our campaign.

Our issues research has identified the leading issues for these persuadeables to be education (17 percent), tax relief (15 percent), and health care (25 percent). No other issue comes close (number four, crime and related issues, is at six percent). We will develop education and tax policies later -- the purpose of this memo is to outline a game plan on health care.

Campaign objective:

We plan to cut you a sharp profile on health care, distinct from the other two candidates, and since we can't match the incumbent on funds for advertising we're going to have to do it with free media. You are already on record in the State Senate for a single- payer system. Your opponent has waffled the issue, so he's vulnerable to charges of flip-flopping and lack of leadership. We have the potential for some good clean polarization on this issue.

The message we want to send is,

    Senator Marilyn Brower is the only candidate who is working for a universal health care program.

Another way to put it:

    Every American has the right to a lawyer. Senator Marilyn Brower believes every American should have the right to a doctor.

Still another way to understand our campaign objective: we want every voter of Illinois, whether they plan to vote for you or not -- persuadeables, base voters, or opposition -- to walk away humming this tune: "Whatever else you say about Brower, I'll tell you one thing -- she's like a broken record on health care." We want to make health care your "brand."

Strategy:

This message has all the "C's" -- it has the virtue of being clear and concise. It's also compelling to the targeted persuadeable suburban women voters. It's easy to communicate, since it's not complicated. It's contrastive, because it delineates an absolute distinction between you and your opponent. Because of the principles involved, it ties to issues of character; because of your passionate commitment to this issue, it enhances your image and displays your style (issues of character, image and style are very important to persuadeable voters). And it's connected to your core values and proven track record, and therefore it's credible:

    professionally, you have a track record in the state senate -- an important professional/political connection...

    personally, your experience caring for an invalid mother gives you a personal connection...

    programmatically, your health care program is detailed and yet simple in concept and can be demonstrated to work (as it has worked in Europe and Canada).

Our strategy is to tell a story of your commitment, almost like an unfolding script, chapter by chapter, over the next three months. We'll plan a series of media events which will result in articles and TV/radio items, each building on the previous chapter. Our free media efforts will also target the non-news channels that reach suburban women. By election day, the story of your commitment to health care will have been communicated to the target audience with enough frequency and reach to make a significant difference in the final results.

Suggested schedule of media events:

Here are some activities we have in mind:

Week of
Activity
Aug. 12 Leak to gossip columns that you will come out in support of a health care program the incumbent calls "socialized medicine"
Aug. 26 Op ed article by Dr. Quincy LeJeune of Rush/St. Lukes, extolling speech, calling for UHC.
Sept. 2
(Labor Day)
Southside Healthcare Center Anniversary dedication (photo op). Tip reporters on release of study next week.
Sept. 16 This is the week Sen. Wellstone is available for a fund-raiser. Strong statement from him, in press conference or interview (or at fund-raiser) about the need for a strong health care voice in Washington.
Sept. 23 Interview with Health Care reporters on details of the plan. Let it drop that physicians support the program.
Oct. 7 Letters to the editor in response to physicians' endorsement.
Oct. 14 Talk radio blitz -- focus volunteers on this issue and create a buzz on radio call-in shows -- "UHC is an idea whose time has come."
Beginning
Oct. 21
(now through the end of the campaign) Schedule as many campaign events as possible in social service agencies; at least one in a health care clinic. Repeat call for state/federal legislation.
Oct. 28 (pre-election weekend) Health Care Town Hall, discussion with leading professionals, challenge to debate incumbent, debate to be limited to this single issue.
Election
Day
Early morning telephone interviews in suburban women markets, stressing health care. Interview at polling place stresses health care. Urge GOTV (get out the vote) efforts for noon news, with health care professionals as campaign volunteers.

I have discussed this with your campaign manager and key members of your campaign staff, and they're all on board. We have the resources to make this work. All we need is your go-ahead, so we can get the scheduler to give us the time.

Looking forward,

Alton Miller