We political people like to assume the things we do are actually important. The problem is that this isn’t true. The chief problem with political operatives and activists, and our judgment, is that we have little to nothing in common with the vast majority of the people voting, let alone society at-large. The things we value in candidates have nothing to do with what the rest of the country values in candidates. We make up a tiny percentage of the country, and we’re quite different than everybody else. This is true of both conservatives and liberals. The biggest rallies and marches struggle to represent 1% of America.
A mistake that many candidates for public office make is that they don’t realize that. They spend lots of time talking to the most passionate, the most engaged people, and not worrying about how they are going to talk to everyone else. Elections are decided among the rest of the public. They are who you need to talk to.
Elections come down to paid communications and ground game. Can you mass communicate, and can you mass mobilize? Do you have the money to reach out to the general public and reach them on issues they care about?
The least important part of an election is the “activist” primary. That’s not where you win elections. Politicos spend a lot of time worrying about it, but in the end, that’s energy not being spent on the important stuff.