political common ground

Finding Political Common Ground with Voters

Political Common Ground is not an Oxymoron

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It’s time to face reality. 

When you vote on election day, you aren’t voting for someone that you agree with on 100 percent of issues. While you might “love” them and are excited to vote for them, they probably aren’t a perfect mirror of your ideology. 

There are always certain things that politicians say or do, certain groups they accept money from, certain events they attend, that don’t exactly leave us…thrilled.

But, we still love them. We still support them. We vote for them and give them money.

Why?

Because we focus on the political common ground between us rather than the issues that drive us apart.

This same idea can, and should, be applied when you’re talking to voters.

Don’t Agree Just to Agree

When you’re out interacting with voters, you don’t need to agree with everything they say just to try and get their vote.

Finding Political Common Ground with VotersIf you constantly agree with a voter no matter what, what if you agree with something that you actually disagree with?

If you misrepresent your views to a voter and they realize this, you’ve not only lost a voter, you’ve also made yourself appear as untrustworthy. And now that voter has a reason to talk poorly about you to their friends.

Chances are, a voter won’t agree with everything that you say. And that’s okay.

Don’t be afraid of being challenged about your beliefs, be excited. More importantly, don’t be afraid to disagree.

Agree to Disagree

Finding Political Common Ground with VotersDisagreement is a beautiful thing. Disagreement means that there is an open discourse of thought in search of the best idea. Democracy is built on the principle of an open debate of ideas. Being able to openly disagree is a symbol of our democracy.

If you’re telling a voter about an issue you believe in and they disagree with you, great! Obviously, you’d prefer for them to agree with all of your stances, but that just isn’t reality. Don’t be afraid to defend your positions, but do so respectfully. More importantly, don’t spend too much time on your disagreements. Agree to disagree and move on.

Just because you disagree on one issue with a voter doesn’t mean you can’t agree on another. Find common ground.

Finding Political Common Ground

Okay, so you disagree on health care or immigration or tax policy. There is still a plethora of issues that you can find political common ground on. The chance that even your most avid supporter agrees with you on 100 percent of issues is minimal. Find something that you can agree on, and explain to your voter why that is the reason they should vote for you

It’s also important to know that many voters don’t so much care about the issues as they do about the person. Think about yourself and how much you know about down-ballot candidates in your area. Even for those of us who are very engaged in politics, it is impossible to know the policy stances of every politician that represents us. 

Finding Political Common Ground with Voters

The elusive “I’d like to grab a beer with them” quality.

Voters care about having a positive interaction with you. They want to see that you’re a good person who cares about your community.

So, if you disagree about an issue, that’s great! That’s democracy! Find an issue you agree on. Find a way to have a positive interaction with every voter that you interact with.

The common ground between you, not the issues that separate you, is where you win their vote.

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Kelly spent eighteen years in Democratic politics working campaigns all across the country at every level of government. His specialty is new campaign creation, strategy and fundraising. After getting his start on a congressional campaign in Kansas in 1997, Kelly went on to work and advise dozens of candidates for U.S. House, Senate, governor, mayor and more. For several years he owned a national political consulting company with four partners and offices in Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, DC and Kansas City. Building businesses and winning campaigns are his passions. For the fun "non-work" stuff, Kelly is a poker enthusiast, die-hard Kansas Jayhawk basketball fan, and avid movie buff.