Run For Office: Have Questions? We've Got Answers. - National Democratic Training Committee

Even after reading all you can about why you should run for office, there are likely millions of questions you still have about the process itself. If you have questions about asking for donations, recruiting volunteers, connecting with political groups in your area, and more, read our Running For Office FAQ.

That’s why we’d like to impart these five tips before you begin your campaign. With these quick tips, we cover some big pointers in areas that many candidates overlook in the first phases of their campaign.  

Build Your Campaign Timeline   

A Campaign Timeline is a crucial asset in any candidate’s campaign toolkit. Whether you’re planning out what your field strategy will look like or what your message is, being prepared is key. In order to map out your journey to office in a practical, proactive way, be sure to download our Campaign Timeline template to model what your plans near and long-term will look like. 

Cut Through the Jargon    

One of the first things you’ll notice as a candidate for office is the abundance of words and acronyms in the field. That’s why we’ve put together a common list of terms for you to learn and use on the campaign trail. You may feel overwhelmed at first, and that’s okay! 

Not everyone can memorize these overnight. As you grow more familiar with the political landscape, you’ll begin to incorporate more of these into your daily lingo. We recommend bookmarking this article for quick and easy reference, so you always have a political dictionary in your pocket.


Research, Research, Research! 

 “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” — Sun Tzu


During your preparation, it’s critical to do some thoughtful research on yourself, the opposition, and your district as a whole.  Do you have something in your past that is easily understandable with context, but may be seen in a negative light without context? Do you have a full record of any previous public statements or votes your opponent made? You should.

Begin your campaign plan in earnest after you’ve done a deep dive into these topics. Otherwise, you’ll fly blind. To cover all your bases, remember to double-check your information against our research checklist.

Prepare Thoughtfully   

Have you decided to run, but your desired position isn’t up for election yet?  This gives you valuable time to prepare before your campaign begins in earnest. Besides the aforementioned research, there’s still a variety of ways to get involved at the local level that can prepare you for future candidacy. 

For example, the number 1 fear of most Americans is public speaking, something any candidate has to feel comfortable doing. Having a year or two before a campaign gives you valuable time to enhance and improve speaking in front of audiences large and small. 

This could also be a valuable time to strengthen your political resume as well. By joining local advisory boards, charity boards, and public meetings, you can prove yourself to be an active and thoughtful member of the community before your campaign even begins. 

You’ve Got This   

That felt like a lot, right? Running for office is no small endeavor. But without your courage, ambition, and empathy for those around you, none of this would be possible. With tools, resources, and training, we equip you with the proven strategies to win. You already possess the qualities of an effective elected official. We just have to get you there, so you can make significant change. 

Whenever you’re in doubt, just remember your “why,” and the main reasons you decided to make a difference. 



Next Live Training
Online Academy

The training and tools you need, when you need them. Courses are available 24/7. Are you a candidate, campaign staffer or volunteer, at the beginning stages of your campaign or in the home stretch? We have the courses to address your specific needs and arm you with the knowledge to win.

View course catalog

Not sure where to start? Take a short quiz to help you determine the best place for you to get started.

Take the quiz