Winning a major election as an independent candidate certainly isn’t impossible, however it doesn’t hurt to start with widespread name recognition, large personal wealth, relevant political experience, or some combination of all three.
Without this “traditional” formula for success, many independent candidates across the country are experimenting with unique electoral and communications strategies, and it’s no wonder. While it’s certainly “harder” running for office without the support of the Democratic or Republican party infrastructure, running independent does allow campaigns the creative license to try innovative and unconventional communications tactics, publicity stunts, or even shameless gimmicks designed to grab media attention, and all without party bosses and interest groups stifling new ideas and improvisation.
In 2012, these four candidates have tried the following innovative campaign strategies:
1. Jason Howell, an independent candidate for congress in Virginia’s 8th district will be wearing a nametag for the duration of the campaign. Since Howell doesn’t have nearly the same name recognition as incumbent Congressman Jim Moran (D), he’s decided to wear a name tag every time he’s in public until November 6th to boost the visibility of his campaign.
2. VoteForEddie.com, formerly known as Eddie Hernandez, an independent candidate for Congress in Florida’s 25th district, legally changed his name in May to his campaign web site address. As Mashable.com commented, this “may be the ultimate example of Search Engine Optimization by a politician.”
3. Chris DeCarlo, independent candidate for for Congress in Virginia’s 11th district, made this rap song and music video to appeal specifically to Virginia’s newest group of voters, 18 year old high school seniors. Sampling the Evil Empire’s theme music from Star Wars, DeCarlo raps about fixing corruption. Central to the theme of DeCarlo’s rhymes was inspiring viewers to sign his ballot access petition – and better yet, there are rumors of another campaign rap video in September.
4. Joe Vaughn, independent candidate for Congress in Nebraska’s 2nd district, made this “honest” political ad, and its populist themes and clever script come across extremely well.
Have you seen any other unique or interesting electoral strategies employed by independent or third party candidates? Let us know in the comments!