A campaign strategy can be defined as the “Science or Art of political command as applied to the overall planning and conduct of political campaign; the Manoeuvring designed to frustrate, surprise or overcome an opponent in order to secure a victory in an election.
The development of a political campaign strategy is probably the most difficult and the most essential aspect of any campaign processes, of which there are less numerous alternatives, responses or possible solutions considering the following key words from the definition.
Opponent: An opponent in the context of this definition could be referred to an individual or groups in any primary or general election, in which one is either an aspirant or candidate trying to defeat others; these could be extended to the electorate as well in view of the groups who are working actively or passively for an opponent. An opponent could also be extended to those people who have already made-up their mind to vote for the opponent simply because he or she is the opponent notwithstanding their policy program. Example, of this is voters who vote on a straight party ticket no matter what the candidate’s position are on the policy issues. These are most time referred to as “Knee Jerk” or “Partisan Voter” this is a very common practices in Nigeria context.
It’s important also to be fully aware that candidates own supporters could become an opponent as a result of their ‘Words and Actions’. There are those individuals who plan to vote but are undecided about whom they are going to vote for, or those who will actually fail to vote, whether intentionally or otherwise, could these two groups be an opponent, probably not in a technical sense, but in the reality or world political campaign they are treated initially as though they are an opponent, until they prove otherwise, because their uncertainty, indifference or carelessness could cause a candidate to lose the election, and as such they could be considered as a possible opponent. In any political campaign strategy plan these individuals must be encompassed, and a clear methodology should be devised to encourage them to become active supporters or voters because more often than not, in a relatively ‘Free and Fair’ election, these individuals in the middle usually decide the outcome, therefore whoever develops and successively implement an “Opponent Strategy” designed to win over those ‘Voter’ wins the election. The key ‘Strategy’ here is the ability to identify these individual opponents and start working on winning them over.
Manoeuvres: This is the use of manoeuvring skill in campaign strategy in order to frustrate, surprise or to over-come an opponent is one that is not without its philosophical argument about the genius of approach, or practical ethics, but the fact remains on the technique of frustration which is one of the legitimate tool in campaign psychology that be used by a candidate to defeat the opponent, this form of strategy could be practiced either by ‘Omission or Commission’.
Surprise: Surprise from the political campaign strategy context, simply means the tactics involving the act of ‘Deception’, this may sound negative in view of its moral concept, but in the real world is a necessary ingredient in most campaign plan. The elements of surprise in a campaign strategy has an applied steam factored around three key functions; Field operations, Media outreach, and Candidates actions.
Overcome: In a campaign strategy plan the use of the word overcome could mean developing an ‘Assault ‘ or an ‘Attack’ with such an over-powering strength that the opponent is unable to stop it. This could involve the use of an intensive media campaign network which would increasingly dominate the sub-consciousness of the voters.