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5 Political Consulting Firms to Win The Upcoming Elections

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Published: Aug 25, 2023

A winning campaign is not one that pumps in the most money. A winning election campaign is determined by how well the candidate influences their voters to choose him. Political consulting firms can help you there. They advise the candidate (and their election campaign) on how best to engage with the voters to win. 

“With enough money, 40% of the consultants say, they can get voters to accept a weaker candidate.”

Consultant ethics, Washington Post

Political consulting firms typically give inputs on ad and media spending, help with opposition surveys and political strategy, and direct their GOTV efforts. 

Not all of them, however, do it well. Putting your campaign in the hands of a political campaign firm with questionable affiliations puts your candidacy at risk.

An unfortunate example is Jeb Bush’s campaign in the 2016 US elections. He spent $125 million on his campaign consultants before dropping out of the presidential primary race. 

political-consulting-firms-jeb-bush

His failure is hugely attributed to his campaign strategists. They were criticized for spending money on TV and media ads instead of positioning the candidate as a viable option. 

“Had they spent $60 million contrasting Trump and Jeb Bush, it would have been a Trump–Bush race.”

Stuart Stevens, Strategist for Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign

On the other hand, Obama’s win in his 2008 election campaign and his subsequent re-election are legendary.

Both these successes were primarily due to how well his advisors used political technology to make intelligent decisions in the campaign.

The bottom line is, picking the right political consultants for your election campaign is vital for a positive outcome. It could be a firm or a singular consultant (like David Axelrod – who was senior advisor to Obama). 

This post can help you there.

Before you go ahead and pick the right consultant for your campaign, it is essential to understand how they can help your candidacy. 

What do political consulting firms do?

Roughly there are 4 types of political campaign consulting firms—pollsters, media consultants, direct-mail experts, and strategists. 

The direct-mail experts are those who focus on fundraising. However, in recent times they also lend their expertise for more targeted messaging to distribute direct mails. 

Pollsters are political consultant firms who take opinion surveys and polls to understand the pulse of the voters. They bring back information on how popular the candidate is with the target audience, what issues affect them, and how they respond to the candidate’s most recent event. 

Political media consultants focus primarily on producing and placing TV and media ads. They are responsible for the ad spends (note – this has the maximum money) and also handle social media for the candidates.

In fact, political strategy firms who don’t offer other services—Republican Stuart Spencer is the most famous—are a dying breed. They only offer strategic guidance on what to focus the campaign on – leaving the rest to the candidate (and his team) to figure out.

Here is a quick look at which type of consultants were most ‘in demand’ (based on how much money was spent on them) in the 2016 US elections, which was a politically charged environment. 

political-consulting-firms-payments-to-consultants-by-firm-type

Whatever their role, political consultants understand the key challenges the candidate (and, by extension, their campaign) faces. They adhere to professional standards and suggest practices complying with the law throughout your campaign.

They then offer strategic solutions to not just overcome the problem but also shape a favorable opinion of the candidate with the public by promoting the election of candidates. They also have expertise in finance, market research, data analysis, canvassing, policy research, and much more.

In some cases, if the candidate already has a public image (like Joe Biden, running for the 2020 elections), the political consulting firm should be able to leverage it to win support. 

Yes, it is a tough job. But as you can read on, some political consulting firms do it extremely well.

Here are the 5 top examples of political consultants. 

Political consulting firm 1- Global Strategy Group

Who are they?

political-consulting-firms-global-strategy-group

Source: Global Strategy Group

Founded in 1995, Global Strategy Group (GSG) is one of the top political consulting firms with six offices across the country. It is located in New York, Washington DC, Hertford, Seattle, Denver, and Chicago.

Initially established as a Democratic polling firm, Global Strategy Group has transformed over the past 28 years into a comprehensive agency offering a wide range of services, including research, public affairs, and communications.

Anthony Chiarito, senior associate public affairs, is known for his brilliant work in PR and is named one of the Observer’s rising stars: the 10 most powerful young people today. He also serves as the Director of Communications for the New York City Council District 38.

Erin Billings, senior vice president, is a veteran communications consultant and former political reporter. She has great experience in addressing public affairs challenges and managing strategic communications.

As one of the top political consultants across the country, GSG has worked with National political leaders, Fortune 100 companies, associations, and nonprofits.

The firm was recognized as the 2023 Public Affairs Agency of the Year by PRovoke Media. The consultancy is distinguished for its depth of talent, influential clients, and great track record. It has also won Democratic Pollster of the Year, Best Opposition Research, Best IE, and Online Advertising Super PAC.

Their expertise lies in tackling some of the country’s most intricate and thrilling issues at the forefront of the political landscape. Comprising a diverse group of over 150 skilled experts, the GSG team has gained invaluable experience through their involvement in nationally acclaimed initiatives. The team possesses profound subject matter expertise and robust connections within the realms of media, politics, and policy.

Their campaigns have championed the causes of 

  • Social justice, 
  • Racial equality, 
  • Environmental conservation, 
  • Ending gun violence, 
  • Advancing women’s rights, and numerous other critical issues.

As leading Democratic pollsters, they have contributed significantly to the success of numerous winning campaigns and political organizations. Their efforts were instrumental in securing Democratic majorities in the US House of Representatives and the Senate.

Notable win of the political consulting firm

The ACLU hired GSG as it wanted to limit government surveillance and establish the issue in the 2016 election cycle.

political-consulting-firms-aclu-gsg

Credit: Global Strategy Group

GSG conducted a national survey to show that Americans, by the ratio of 2:1, did not want the Patriot Act reauthorized. The survey was based on likely voters, screened based on their propensity to vote.

The ACLU used the survey to secure media coverage in major outlets and helped inform powerful ad campaigns in eight major battleground states. The ACLU could gather tons of support with the help of GSG.

ACLU was successful in passing a vote against the authority of the government to collect bulk data on its citizens. The firm is also passionate about working on political issues that shape the world.

What do they specialize in?

  • Research and insights
  • Strategic communications
  • Digital strategy
  • Grassroots and grasstops organizing
  • Brand identity
  • Social media analytics
  • Creative storytelling
  • Competitive intelligence
  • Crisis communications
  • Legislative + regulatory strategy
  • Media relations
  • Public affairs + advocacy
  • Reputation management

Read Next: 9 Best CRMs for Political Campaigns to Help You Optimize the Process.

Political consulting firm 2- GMMB

Who are they?

political-consulting-firms-gmmb


GMMB is a political consultant company located in Seattle and Washington, DC, that began its journey by assisting candidates win tough elections. It has established itself as one of the top democratic political consulting firms in DC and across the nation. 

GMMB focuses on electing progressive leaders for offices at the local, state, and federal levels. 

It provides various services such as 

  • Political strategy development,
  • Advertising, 
  • Digital engagement, 
  • Graphic design, 
  • Coalition building, and 
  • Media relations. 

The process of working with GMMB is intense as it helps you discover who you really are in order to position yourself the right way. 

Beyond elections, GMMB applies campaign strategies to elevate policy conversations, foster movements, and drive year-round issue progress. With expertise spanning electoral politics, education, healthcare, global development, and the environment, GSG employs a multidisciplinary approach to achieve tangible results.

Allie McKay, vice president, is a key player in the management of ad production and distribution. Kerry-Ann Hamilton, senior vice president, is known for creating high-impact strategic communications and positioning.

The political consultancy won 10 awards in 2017 at AAPC annual Pollie Awards & Conference. It has earned recognition for ads created for candidates and causes.

Notable win of the political consulting firm

GMMB received the Excellence Award for its successful campaign during the Nevada Democratic Gubernatorial Primary Election on behalf of candidate Steve Sisolak

The campaign’s objectives were to 

  • Outline Sisolak’s agenda, 
  • Highlight crucial Nevada issues, 
  • Boost turnout among registered Democrats, and 
  • Drive participation on the primary election day. 

In a closely contested race, Sisolak initially trailed his opponent by one percentage point. GMMB devised a comprehensive strategy centered around broadcast television and targeted digital placements to reach likely primary voters. 

With about 76% of the media budget allocated to local broadcast TV, Sisolak emerged victorious in the Democratic primary, securing a ten-percentage-point lead over his opponent. 

What do they specialize in?

  • Use of advanced and innovative techniques
  • Ad creation
  • Digital strategy and analytics
  • Micro-targeting
  • Media relations and organization
  • Paid media planning and analytics
  • Brand strategy
  • Production
  • Web design

Download the free ebook: Beginner’s Guide to Micro-targeting for Political Campaigns.

Political consulting firm 3- Precision Strategies 

Who are they?

Precision Strategies, located in Washington DC, is led by Stephanie Cutter, Jen O’Malley Dillon, and Teddy Goff, a team that has contributed remarkably to high-profile campaigns and causes, including the Obama campaign. It is an integrated strategy and marketing agency that collaborates with candidates to influence people’s opinions and inspire them to take action.

The founders have vast experience in political consulting with a range of industry recognitions.

Precision has extended its expertise to serve organizations and campaigns across diverse sectors. The team comprises experienced agency professionals, senior strategists, former White House and Capitol Hill communicators, and experts from various industries.

The consultancy has won Holmes Report’s Digital PR Agency of the Year (2016). The award specifically mentions three of Precision’s campaigns that catch the eye. 

It has also developed innovative strategies to apply in a variety of sectors. As a part of their mobilization services, they help you understand the environment you’ll be a part of and evaluate your assets. 

Namely, the Coalition of Public Safety, For the John F. Kennedy Library, and the most high-profile of all, the LPC election campaign.

Notable win of the political consulting firm

In 2015, the LPC (Liberal Party of Canada) hired the Precision Strategies team for a data-driven campaign and digital messaging tactics to persuade Canadians to vote for Justin Trudeau. In 2019, they won the Public Affairs Firm of the Year by Reed Awards.

The political consultancy began its work months before the election to build the infrastructure necessary to run a data-driven, grassroots campaign.

The team had two goals, first, to simplify and strengthen infrastructure. Second, to create strategies for targeted voter contact and communication.

political-consulting-firms-justin-trudeau

Credit: Precision Strategies

The campaign had knocked over 5 million doors, made personal contacts with voters, discussed their concerns, and discussed the candidate’s vision.

It targeted both online and offline voters, being the largest turnout effort in Canadian history. The party won an unexpected victory in the elections, securing 40% of votes nationwide.

What do they specialize in?

  • Strategic planning and communications
  • Digital programs
  • Advertising
  • Video and creative
  • Data and analytics
  • Mobilization and campaigns
  • Branding
  • Crisis management
  • Events and experiential marketing
  • Website and online reputation management
  • Spanish language and Hispanic cultures
  • Multicultural engagement
  • Marketing techniques
  • Message creation

Political consulting firm 4- Democracy Partners

Who are they?

Democracy Partners is a progressive consulting firm that specializes in providing strategic and campaign services to political candidates, advocacy organizations, nonprofits, and causes aligned with progressive values. The firm is known for its involvement in grassroots organizing, digital communication, fundraising, and overall campaign management.

Democracy Partners was co-founded by seasoned political strategists and consultants, including Bob Creamer and Mike Lux. The firm has been involved in various campaigns and initiatives aimed at promoting social and political change, often focusing on issues such as civil rights, healthcare, environmental protection, and economic justice.

The organization has gained attention for its work in mobilizing grassroots support, developing digital strategies, and utilizing data-driven approaches to engage and activate supporters. Their efforts often involve leveraging the power of social media and online platforms to rally public opinion and drive action.

Their team comprises some of the most experienced, imaginative, and impactful political experts in the United States.

Notable win of the political consulting firm

Democracy Partners played a significant role in the Biden/Harris campaign, primarily from July to November. Heather, the founding partner of Democracy Partners was overseeing the efforts of experienced organizers and progressive coalitions in various states.

This included weekly phone calls with state campaign coalition coordinators, focusing on 

  • Polling
  • Messaging, 
  • Securing support and placement for campaign surrogates, 
  • Organizing events, and 
  • Recruiting volunteers for state and national phone banks. 

Notably, Progressives for Biden phone banks managed to make 4.8 million calls with the help of 14,000 volunteer shifts.

Heather co-hosted calls with Bob Creamer, engaging Progressive leaders at both state and national levels. Progressives for Biden organized a total of nine national and ten state events, including events like the Convention Pre-Show and Watch Party with prominent figures like Senator Warren, Representatives Jayapal, Khanna, Lee, Garcia, Dr. El-Sayed, and grassroots leaders. These events garnered a total of 447,600+ views across platforms.

Democracy Partners collaborated with a diverse range of groups and maintained close coordination with the campaign through a select group that could effectively work alongside them. 

This group included organizations like the 

  • Center for Popular Democracy PAC, 
  • Community Change Action, 
  • People’s Action PAC, and 
  • Working Families Party…

as well as other entities such as 

  • MoveOn, Indivisible (both national and local chapters), 
  • One Fair Wage, 
  • PCCC, and 
  • Various other national, state, and local organizations.

Regarding Seniors outreach, for which Heather acted as the Outreach Director, the main goal was to persuade older Americans, traditionally a Republican-leaning demographic, to support the Biden/Harris ticket. The emphasis was on safeguarding Social Security, preserving healthcare, and addressing the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

To achieve this, they organized more than 25 events in battleground states and 21 major national events aimed at seniors.

They accomplished this by providing support to Senior Councils in different states. Among their activities, Seniors for Biden-Harris built a volunteer list of over 10,000 individuals and played a crucial role in staffing one of the largest Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) phone banks, with 50 GOTV shifts and over 1000 callers on Election Day. 

They also organized major national events, including a Social Security Anniversary Event, a Grandparents’ Day Celebration, and roundtables on topics like prescription drug costs. Various organizations, such as the Alliance for Retired Americans, DNC Seniors Council, AFSCME Retirees, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, and Social Security Works, were actively involved in the Seniors Council.

‘Boomers for Biden’ hosted a two-volume Rock ‘n’ Doo-Wop Party featuring Jon ‘Bowzer’ Bauman from Sha Na Na, aimed at mobilizing volunteers and promoting the Vote Joe App. Volume 1 featured artists like Jay Seigel, Peggy March, Gary “US” Bonds, Charlie Thomas, LaLa Brooks, and Gene Chandler and received 1,211 RSVPs. 

What do they specialize in?

  • Political messaging
  • Earned media
  • Electoral campaign planning, general consulting, and campaign management
  • Planning and executing advocacy campaigns
  • High-intensity field programs
  • Television, radio, and digital advertising
  • Direct mail
  • Website development
  • Fundraising
  • Donor advising and high-impact philanthropy
  • Social media organizing
  • Advance planning and executing events
  • Media training
  • Organizer training
  • Issue and electoral phone programs
  • Executive search services and recruitment
  • Opposition research
  • Coalition building

Political consulting firm 5- C3 Public Strategies

Who are they?

C3 Public Strategies is known for creating comprehensive, fully integrated field campaigns. The firm is skilled at seamlessly joining ongoing campaigns or establishing coalitions from the ground up to bolster various field programs with exceptional precision.

Their services encompass canvassing initiatives, phone campaigns, data and technology consulting, and community organizing. 

Notable win of the political consulting firm

In the Buffalo Mayor’s Race, C3 faced a unique challenge and achieved success in a historic election. During the Democratic Primary Election, the four-term incumbent Democratic Mayor Byron Brown was defeated by India Walton, a self-declared Socialist candidate, by a margin of seven points.

Following the primary, Byron Brown decided to re-enter the race as a write-in candidate. This meant his name wouldn’t appear on the ballot, and his success relied on voters writing in his name. 

C3 collaborated with the New York State Association of REALTORS® to educate a diverse coalition of voters, transcending partisan and ideological lines, about the write-in process and advocated for Byron Brown. Through two extensive door-knocking campaigns, covering over 37,000 doors in under a month and engaging in over 13,000 live interactions with voters at their doorstep, C3 managed to secure commitments from 72% of surveyed voters to write-in Byron Brown. 

They also educated these voters on how to navigate this unfamiliar election process. Ultimately, this support from 72% of their targeted audience translated into an impressive 58.8% of the overall electorate choosing to write in Byron Brown for Mayor in the November Election.

What do they specialize in?

  • Field campaigns 
  • Door-to-door programs
  • Phone programs
  • Consulting
  • Community organizing
  • Canvassing
  • Voter registration
  • Voter targeting, and 
  • Data management

Here’s a list of political consulting firms we saw above, along with their specializations:

Political consulting firmSpecializations
Global Strategy GroupResearch and insights
Strategic communications
Digital strategy
Grassroots and grasstops organizing
Brand identity
Social media analytics
Creative storytelling
Competitive intelligence
Crisis communications
Legislative + regulatory strategy
Media relations
Public affairs + advocacy
Reputation management
GMMBUse of advanced and innovative techniques
Ad creation
Digital strategy and analytics
Micro-targeting
Media relations and organization
Paid media planning and analytics
Brand strategy
Production
Web design
Precision StrategiesStrategic planning and communications
Digital programs
Advertising
Video and creative
Data and analytics
Mobilization and campaigns
Branding
Crisis management
Events and experiential marketing
Website and online reputation management
Spanish language and hispanic cultures
Multicultural engagement
Marketing techniques
Message creation
Democracy PartnersPolitical messaging
Earned media
Electoral campaign planning, general consulting and campaign management
Planning and executing advocacy campaigns
High-intensity field programs
Television, radio and digital advertising
Direct mail
Website development
Fundraising
Donor advising and high-impact philanthropy
Social media organizing
Advance, planning and executing events
Media training
Organizer training
Issue and electoral phone programs
Executive search services and recruitment
Opposition research
Coalition building
C3 Public StrategiesField campaigns 
Door-to-door programs
Phone programs
Consulting
Community organizing
Canvassing
Voter registration
Voter targeting, and 
Data management

How to pick from the range of political consulting firms?

Most candidates pick a consultant they have already worked with. Pete Buttigieg, for his 2020 

Presidential nomination, has Mike Schumhl as his campaign manager. Schumhl had previously run Buttigieg’s Indiana Mayoral campaign. He had also served as his chief of staff.   

Similarly, Obama had his trusted advisors David Axelrod (communication manager) and David Plouffe (campaign strategist) for both his winning elections. 

Both these examples highlight a few critical requirements for your political consultant. The consultant you pick should be:

  1. Trustworthy – remember, you are trusting him with large amounts of your donor funds and also your entire election campaign. 
  2. Have a good track record – this does not mean just ‘wins’. It means how well he worked with previous candidates.
  3. An AAPC member – AAPC lays down a code of ethics that the consultant is liable to follow
  4. Relevant to your campaign – he should be able to identify your shortcoming and help you leverage that with his expertise.

Such a combination is usually tough to find. Also, compounded by a consultant’s “Don’t Blame Us” attitude, choosing whom to trust can get very tricky. The firm you choose is going to be a part of your team. Make sure you ask your firm how they plan on tackling the obstacles you normally encounter.

“We had people (consultants) who obviously didn’t have, necessarily, my best interest in mind. I think for them it was a job. A lot of money was made, and a lot of advantage was taken”

Ben Carson, Presidential Primary candidate 2016

After all, you don’t want to wind up like Carson. Despite having one of the best fundraisers in the 2016 elections, he still couldn’t win the primaries because he felt his political consultants didn’t steer him right.

Can you win without a political consulting firm?

Despite the wealth of information and tools political consultants arm you with, it is still possible to win an election without their insights.

The most recent example is Donald Trump. For his Republican Nomination, he spent less than all the other candidates and went on to become the President. And the kicker? He did not hire a political consultant firm!

Take a look at how thoroughly he swept the elections:

political-consulting-firms-election-results

When compared to the other candidates, Trump did not spend spectacularly on media ads. His ground game wasn’t on point, campaign infrastructure non-existent, and his targeting could’ve used help.

But he still won the race because, as a candidate, he leveraged public opinion and nailed campaign messaging!

Of the factors that decide elections, consultants rank a distant fifth. What’s most important, not surprisingly, is the candidate himself.

The myth about political consultants, newrepublic.com

What’s next?

If you have decided to choose a political consultant for your campaign, go ahead and pick from the list of political consulting services we have given. These 5 Best Political Companies focus on Polling can help you further.

If you are still (understandably) hesitant, then your best friend is effective communication. I suggest you reach out to your voters directly (with a sample list) and check the kind of responses you get. 

It need not even be a complicated phone banking outreach, a simple SMS can do the trick. 

If the response is lukewarm and you find more questions than answers, then you will have a starting point to discuss with your consultant. 

If the response is overwhelming, and if your audience is already engaged, all you need is a strategist who shapes that into a winning campaign.

All the best! We are totally rooting for you to nail your campaigns!

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