For the invested observer, the eve of an election or major vote can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. News media, internet tracking systems and massive watch parties stack the tension of each and every moment leading up to the next big decision for our state or nation. As more and more people become politically conscious — wherever they may fall on each issue or race — the gravity of these moments can reach peak anxiety.
Yet, for those at the helm of a campaign or movement, that critical day means something else entirely. Stress, after all, has been a constant neighbor to every other emotion since the work of the campaign began. Exhaustion reigns, a result of months of hard work and passionate dedication. And while observers share their worries for the future, those worries have overwhelmed members of a campaign, where the direct impact of this critical day or evening will change the course of their very lives.
Some campaign directors, managers, and candidates find within themselves the grace to accept the results that are delivered, no matter what. Hope and optimism can be balanced by a informed read of the political terrain, gathered every day through constant critical review. If you’ve done everything in your power for your cause, the final countdown of votes can sometimes look like a path to deserved relief.
It’s the common spectrum of feeling. That is, unless that final countdown ends up with only a handful of votes spelling victory or defeat.
We’ve all seen our fair share of paper-thin margins in political wins and losses. And just as casual observers and politicos across the spectrum retroactively analyze and critique, those at the head of a campaign — however they were feeling before the final tally — get to look at that close loss through the murky, strained lens of doubt or regret.
Whether you’re on the winning or losing side of a close vote, it sticks with you. Those who win focus on the fragile nature of their victory, always aware that things can turn against them in the future. They continue to campaign heavily even after they’ve won, always in search of security and certainty.
Of course, losing is worse in general. At such tight margins, however, it can be desolate. You publicly invested all of yourself in a campaign, only to be haunted with the ghosts of decisions you could’ve made to shore up that small difference in outcomes. Regret plagues the following months, sometimes years, until you get another chance — assuming you have the energy and resources to follow through.
At Grassroots Midwest, we love the tough campaigns. We seek to propel our clients ahead of their expected outcomes, turning likely defeat into inspiring success or pushing a close victory into a certain and comfortable win. We’ve built our reputation on making the difference and generating results.
As we’ve said before, politics is all numbers from start to finish. Why have three more votes when you could have 3,000?
About the author: Steve Heikkinen serves as the Communications and Marketing Strategist for Grassroots Midwest, Michigan’s only bipartisan political advocacy firm.