Government political consultants are behind-the-scenes professionals who help politicians win campaigns and remain popular with constituents. They work closely with campaign managers, who oversee campaign strategies and budgets. They might also work with grassroots organizations, political parties and other groups. People who work in this field typically have at least a bachelor's degree in a field such as political science, though some graduate study is also helpful. Political consultants study the media, organize polls, research opponents, and develop strategies for disseminating information to voters. Many successful consultants are contract workers who earn six-figure salaries.
Polling is a primary responsibility of government political consultants. They might design polls that ask pertinent questions of voters, choose populations whom they want to poll, and then analyze the results. Some political consultants also make recommendations to campaign managers based on their analyses of poll results. Consultants who design polls tend to have educational backgrounds in social and political science, while those who analyze poll results often have advanced degrees in statistics or similar mathematical fields.
Government political consultants are heavily involved in research. In most cases, this research has to do with a particular demographic group's voting history and stance on important issues. Consultants might study a group and determine where past candidates have failed or succeeded to win its votes. Consultants will also research rival political candidates to learn about their strengths, weaknesses and campaign strategies. For example, a consultant might discover that an opposition candidate in a Senate race has voted against issues she claims to support.
Government political consultants usually have a say in the creative aspects of a campaign. For example, they might analyze research they performed about particular demographics and suggest artwork, colors and typography that should be used on campaign flyers and brochures. If a state politician needs votes from a rural area, consultants might develop postcards that show the local land or examples of local agriculture with lettering and wording that suggests old fashioned values.
A government political consultant has to make sure he gets all of the necessary information about a candidate out to voters, the media and other stakeholders in the most effective ways possible. For example, he might send emails to business leaders who are potential donors. Consultants might also help campaign managers set up town meetings or other events where voters can get face time with a candidate. In addition, consultants might develop canvassing strategies where campaign volunteers hand out flyers and ask for campaign donations.
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