Book Review – The Campaign Manager by Catherine Shaw


Our first book review is The Campaign Manager: Running and Winning Local Elections. In this book, author Catherine Shaw draws on experience from her three terms as mayor of Ashland, Oregon, and dozens of campaigns to provide practical, proven advice, and her field-tested methods carry candidates through the entire process.

In this fourth updated edition, the entire campaign process is laid out for the reader – from putting together a campaign team to fund-raising, targeting voters, evaluating media effectiveness, to GOTV efforts and everything in between. Issue-based campaigns and ballot measures are also covered. The topics are supplemented with anecdotes about the author’s own campaigns and  campaigns she has worked with.  The appendix includes information on conducting a precinct analysis, predicting voter turnout and more. It’s a dense book, and one that should be read well in advance of any campaign.

The Campaign Manager provides an excellent blueprint for offline campaigning. It covers every step of the process in organizing and running a US political or grassroots issue campaign. Each topic is examined in detail and packed with valuable insight and useful suggestions. The political quotes sprinkled throughout are also fun. The book is geared toward campaigns that have (or plan to acquire) some money and resources, as it delves into direct voter targeting strategies and media buys – both of which can cost significant money.

While  The Campaign Manager does a terrific job of laying out the nuances of organizing a campaign, it’s coverage of online campaigning falls short. Even though this is the 2010 4th edition, the book provides only a cursory mention of campaign websites and other online opportunities and strategies. Despite these omissions, it’s still a must-read for anyone considering  a run for local, county or state office. It makes a fine library addition to even experienced candidates and campaign managers.


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