Early Campaigns Return Big Rewards

President Obama announced his campaign for re-elect last Monday.

And if one thing has been proven in this new digital and networked era of electoral politics in Massachusetts, getting in as soon as possible has big rewards and little risk.

Deval Patrick got in very early in the 2006 cycle and defeated not one, but two well-known and respected candidates in Chris Gabrielli and Tom Reilly before beating the current Lieutenant Governor, Kerry Healey. The Governor also built his 2010 re-elect campaign as soon as possible and defeated well-known candidates Charles Baker and Tim Cahill.

Scott Brown got in early (at least as early as he could) in his special election and defeated Martha Coakley. Brown also pushed Andy Card out of the picture, in part, by announcing early. Coakley, by the way, announced ahead of many other big names in her primary race, which she won.

1. Wired primary voters.
Massachusetts voters are wired, and well-educated Democrats who vote in primaries are particularly wired. They are online and engaged politically in cyberspace. While some of the political consulting class might argue that people aren’t paying attention to campaign politics this early, those well-educated Democratic primary voters are known news consumers. I would argue that they are always paying attention.

2. Bob Massie and Marisa DeFranco.
They are announced candidates for Senate, and if you were an announced candidate, I’d have listed you as well. I’d also know more about you. I would have looked at your website. But for those who are not in, I don’t know what you want voters to know about your candidacy. Meanwhile, Massie and DeFranco are out winning votes, raising money, earning press, and securing volunteer time. I have no idea how much or how effectively, but it is some, and in what appears to be a very wide-open — and potentially very close — primary, those votes and resources could be critical. They are also getting better at being a candidate every day.

3. Support in politics can compound like interest.
In this viral and networked world, one supporter “liking” you on Facebook or re-Tweeting your post, equals that many more people exposed to you. Their online activity means your search rankings rise and your communication reach grows. One more person signed up for your email list is one more person who can forward an email.

Every direct contact you make is also one more opportunity to ask that person to donate or volunteer again…and again…and again. Yes, building an organization takes time and is grueling hard work, but if your organization is compounding on itself, the growth is biggest towards the end — right when it counts.

4. Here comes Barack Obama (and Mitt Romney).
The MA Democratic Senate primary will always drive some headlines, but its ability to do so will decrease as the Republican Presidential primary gets rolling. Bachmann, Palin, Pawlenty, and Newt vs. Mitt Romney will be much fun for the media here. Mitt vs. Barack has its own local appeal as well.

The Obama fundraising machine will turn on very soon, and according to the Herald, Massachusetts gave more per capita to Barack Obama than any other state as of two months before the 2008 General Election. It’s a lot harder to ask someone to give after they just gave to the President’s re-elect. Same with volunteers.

So if your house is in order and you want to run — get in now. If you aren’t decided, well, the window of opportunity is fast closing.