Author Archive

Should my campaign use TikTok?

December 19, 2022

TikTok has taken the world by storm. With over 1 billion active users and more added every day, this burgeoning startup has led to a whole microcosm of creators, influencers, and thought leaders, but is it a good option for political candidates?

Some political figures have found great success on the app.

Sarah Stogner* in the Texas Primary for Railroad Commissioner made a TikTok video in which she appeared semi-nude while riding a pumpjack (her original post included the hashtag #humpjack). That video amassed tens of thousands of views and earned her large amounts of news media coverage.

Though the press was for the most part negative, that video is likely what put her into the runoff against incumbent Wayne Christian. It seems that in her case—a candidate with no money and no name ID—any press was considered good press. But if you are like most campaigns, this is probably not the kind of press you want.

However, TikTok is not just a place for partially clothed individuals straddling heavy machinery. With over a billion users, there is a niche for every kind of content from guns to gardening, geology to DIY glitter nails.

TikTok does also have a political space, however, participants tend to belong more to the fringe ends of the political spectrum.

For the inexperienced, looking at the available social platforms can be daunting and candidates feel as though they have to be on all of them to get attention. However, it’s important to know your audience and invest your presence where they are. Spreading a campaign across many platforms without a content plan tailored to those spaces takes up valuable time and does not always generate a meaningful return. 

What is best about TikTok is also what makes it bad for campaigns.

TikTok is not a social media platform.

TikTok has more in common with YouTube than with Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. TikTok should not be considered a social media platform, but more of a content discovery tool. While it does have social features, its algorithm weights toward content a user will consume, not necessarily content produced by people they follow.

(This is why an account with millions of followers might only have 10,000 views on their last video, while an account with less than a thousand might still get millions of views on their latest video.)

The app’s focus is not so much on connecting people (like with Facebook), but with serving people the kind of content that will keep them swiping through the endless scroll.

This means your followers can’t “share” your content to their feed the way they could on Facebook or Twitter. Nor can they invite their friends to “like” your content in the same way.

Rarely do voters seek out the kind of content that campaigns produce. A few engaged activists may seek out candidates, but most people will scroll away the instant they realize they are watching a candidate for office.

Paid advertising of any kind is not an option on TikTok

TikTok does have ads, but its ads network functions the same way as its algorithm. On Facebook (aka Meta), it is possible for us to upload a voter file and target only people registered to vote in a particular district.

On TikTok, we must target by interest and affiliation. There are some geographic options, but these are often inaccurate for the same reason Facebook’s boost feature is often inaccurate.

While influencer marketing can be powerful, TikTok has followed many other platforms in banning political ads altogether, including paid influencer deals.

This means that while users can discuss their own politics, if it comes out that a creator posted about anything related to politics or an election on behalf of another person or entity, the creator could have their content removed, their account suspended, or even have their account shut down.

Your voters are not on TikTok

TikTok’s algorithm has been a game-changer for how we consume content online. YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram have all made changes to their own algorithms to experiment with interest-based feeds over the old connection-based feeds.

But like those other platforms, TikTok has no interest in showing your content to people who can vote for you. These platforms are solely interested in showing your content to people who want to talk politics. Most of the time, these people make up only 3-4% of the voters we need to reach.

And despite having 1 billion users, TikTok is still a start-up. It is small potatoes compared to Google/ YouTube and Facebook/Instagram/Meta. Far more voters will use Facebook and Google than TikTok.

The most distinctive difference is that unlike YouTube and Facebook/Instagram/Meta, we can’t pay TikTok ad dollars to show our content to the voters who matter.

The worst part of TikTok for campaigns

It is very hard to get any benefit from TikTok as a campaign. Unless you are a national figure (AOC, Dan Crenshaw, etc.) you are unlikely to get any good traction on TikTok.

The most dangerous part of TikTok is how addictive it can be. Their interest-based algorithm can become a time suck for even the most focused candidate.

Sometimes, success can be even more time consuming. Once you have a video blow up, it can be tempting to pour more time into video creation, trying to recreate or surpass your previous number of views.

That is time spent on an app instead of at the door or at the polls, or persuading voters and talking to donors.

In closing: MNA advises our campaigns against using TikTok.

While we are definitely keeping our fingers on the pulse of TikTok, we do not recommend TikTok for campaigns at this time. Though their style of interest-based algorithm has been transplanted to other platforms, those other platforms still allow us to use voter-based ads and targeting.

Perhaps someday something will change and TikTok’s targeting will improve and/or they will allow us to place ads. Until then, we advise our candidates to avoid TikTok for campaign purposes.

*At the time of this writing, Sarah Stogner has never been a client of Murphy Nasica & Associates or our affiliated organizations.

How to knock doors as a candidate

December 12, 2022

Count your steps, count your votes. 

Don’t leave votes on the table and knock those doors.

When it comes to drumming up support and getting supporters to vote door knocking is one of the best things a candidate can do for their campaign. The impact of a candidate personally knock on someone’s door can’t be replaced by television, digital, mail, and text message advertising

Deciding to run for office means making a choice which requires a lot of leg work—literally. Campaigns have been won simply because candidates committed to knocking doors full-time for the duration of the campaign. Conversely, being too good for doors, not committing to knock them, or doubting their impact has left a potential winner to come up short.

Of course, the smaller the district the easier it is to knock every door. But that’s where other campaign advertising comes into play. There’s more than one way to reach a voter, but the candidate isn’t placing ads so they should be knocking doors. 

Candidates will always get better reception than family members, volunteers, or campaign workers, but here are some basic guidelines to help make a good impression and motivate voters to support you and most importantly, vote.

1. Approaching Doors 

Mind any plants or items decorating the front porch. If someone stomped up to your door and knocked around plants, decor, or deliveries you probably wouldn’t be inclined to talk to them. 

Knock or ring the doorbell, then take two or three steps back. This helps you appear non-threatening and puts distance between you and any aggressive pets.

Holding up a pushcard or something else with your campaign logo and smiling while you wait for the door to open is a great practice. And something you might want to practice, a forced smile is noticeable. 

2. Dressing for Success

Branding is essential. Wear any campaign shirts, pullovers, hats or other branding are a great way to signal that you’re with a campaign. Sneakers and shorts are acceptable and most voters understand, especially if you’re out walking in the Texas heat.

Sweating might be inevitable, but you should make sure you are at least presentable. Imagine if you were headed to a child’s ball game. 

This might be the most basic thing we share today, but make sure your hair and/or beard are trimmed, fingernails are clean, and basic hygiene is attended to. Voters will notice. 

3. Where to?

The idea of going to a neighborhood and knocking every door is an easy trap to fall into. But even the most dedicated candidate simply will not have the time. Less than half of eligible voters typically register to vote, much less actually turnout in any given election. Their doors will take up time and yield little results, best to target your approach. 

We recommend a voter file like the ones provided by our Data Team here at Murphy Nasica. They can be broken down into primary voters, independents, persuadable individuals, and just about any mix that makes sense for your campaign’s needs.  Knowing your target helps your conversation at the door, guides messaging, and creates success

Things can get more complicated if you have a mixed household where the spouse and/or children vote differently. Luckily, a voter file can still tell you this and ensure you are reasonably prepared when you approach a door.

4. Not after dark, please

Knocking most days from about 10am until 7pm or sunset (whichever comes first) is usually good practice. Waiting a few hours after dawn gives people time to get their day started. Though you are legally permitted in Texas to knock until 8pm, it’s a time when most voters are winding down, especially if they are elderly or have small children who need to be put to bed.

Holidays are a special exception and if a particular holiday is observed in your area, it’s important to be sensitive to that. Many holidays like Easter, Veterans Day, and Jewish feasts tend to happen during campaign season. Fourth of July and Memorial Day are also not the best times to be out door knocking.

Weekends are usually the best time to knock doors, but knocking before noon or one on Sundays is sometimes taboo in religious communities. 

Ultimately, a great practice is to think of if someone knocking on your door at a particular time would be frustrating. No one wants to open the door to a campaign before their morning coffee has even brewed. 

5. The not so nice reception

Not everyone is excited for the opportunity to talk about the races in their area. It’s inevitable a door knocker may interrupt families at dinner, ring a doorbell that woke a sleeping baby, and many other unforeseeable circumstances. Most people are friendly and will still listen to your message if you offer a sincere apology. 

If they ask (or perhaps even demand) that you leave, we do recommend you do. Sometimes, they will still want to take your pushcard or campaign literature and this is a positive sign. It’s important to remember you can’t win them all and trying to force the issue is not likely to help.

Unfortunately, sometimes there will be voters who want to argue a particular party stance. Occasionally, you might run into a friend or family member of your opponent.

Avoid arguing with voters, especially on their own doorstep. Be calm and courteous. If they bring up particular attacks you are prepared for, respond in a polite manner. 

It’s important to remember that “I don’t have an answer for you right now” is also always an acceptable response. Don’t get dragged into arguments with voters who are strongly partisan, or who are just trying to take up your time. It’s important to remember that while you should value each conversation and each voter’s time, one way to do this is to understand there are always more voters who want to hear from you. Spending twenty minutes at one door arguing with someone unlikely to vote for you means multiple voters who are likely to vote for you won’t hear from you.

6. “No soliciting”

Political activity is not considered “soliciting” because it is not for the sake of commerce and is protected under the First Amendment. However, not all residents will be aware of this.

Some people will still be upset regardless of whether they had a “no soliciting” sign or not. However, since meeting a candidate is such an unusual experience for most people they’re often still willing to speak with you

7. Make it fun, bring someone!

It is helpful for candidates to have a “handler” when out door knocking. This can be a spouse, friend, campaign volunteer, or campaign employee. 

This person’s job is mainly to track time. Most candidates enjoy speaking with people and most people have never gotten the chance to voice their concerns to a candidate. A handler can help keep things moving along and step into a conversation when things start going too long.

A handler can also be responsible for voter contact info if someone asks a question that requires a follow-up. 

You’ve got this! 

Like most things, the best way to get better at door knocking is practice. The more you do it, the better at it you’ll become. 

Meeting and speaking with voters is a great way to become more acquainted with the community. It can help the campaign to find some great insights on the dominant concerns, overall community attitude, and of course we love how it helps to bring home the win!

So get out there, knock some doors, and win that race. 

Grassroots Director Stephanie Terek Named Partner at Murphy Nasica

January 31, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: January 31, 2019
CONTACT: Craig Murphy
PHONE: 817-845-0111
EMAIL: craig@murphynasica.com

Grassroots Director Stephanie Terek Named Partner at Murphy Nasica

Murphy Nasica & Associates (MNA), one of the largest, winningest political consulting firms in the nation, today announced a new company partner: national Grassroots Director Stephanie Terek. As head of all MNA’s grassroots operations since 2015, Terek has overseen the firm’s field programs in 19 different states – managing thousands of canvassers who knocked on 4.5 million doors.

Terek’s outstanding field programs led to critical Republican victories in key Congressional, State Legislative, and Statewide offices across the nation. Terek has built a reputation as one of the most respected people managers in politics. Her skilled, personal approach to management has led to higher retention and consistently higher-performing canvassers across all of MNA’s campaigns.

“Stephanie’s ability to cultivate new talent and deliver meaningful results has brought the quality and efficiency of our field program to a new level,” said MNA Partner Matt Brownfield. “Her skill, grit, drive and experience are unmatched in politics, and we are blessed to have her as a partner.”

“I believe in what we do, and in creating and maintaining a vehicle to let empower field operatives to help elect excellent leaders at every level,” said Terek. “I am honored to be a partner and to lead Murphy Nasica’s effort to build field programs that are unmatched.”

Before joining MNA, Terek previously oversaw the field activism programs for Generation Opportunity. She also previously worked in the Florida House of Representatives and was a former Bush presidential appointee in the Office of the White House Liaison at the Labor Department. Terek earned her BA in Government-Policy from Patrick Henry College in Virginia and is active in her church and volunteer efforts.

Murphy Nasica & Associates is a full-service consulting firm with offices in Dallas, Austin, and Washington D.C. Its mission is to elect Republican candidates at every level of the ballot. First founded in Texas in 2013, Murphy Nasica has operated in 23 states. The firm’s work is currently nominated for 30 national Reed Awards from Campaigns & Elections Magazine.

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Sam Spahn Named New Partner at Murphy Nasica

January 31, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: January 31, 2019
CONTACT: Craig Murphy
PHONE: 817-845-0111
EMAIL: craig@murphynasica.com

Sam Spahn Named New Partner at Murphy Nasica

Murphy Nasica & Associates (MNA), one of the largest, winningest political consulting firms in the nation, today announced a new company partner: Director of Operations Sam Spahn.

As MNA’s Director of Operations, Spahn manages the budgets of the company and its clients to streamline resource allocation, maximize ROI, and ensure efficiency. His business innovation and operational savvy have helped grow Murphy Nasica into the largest political consulting firm in Texas and the Southwest.

“Sam Spahn has been at the operational helm of our company through its largest period of growth,” said MNA Partner Matt Brownfield. “He is a good man, a trusted advisor, and an integral part of each and every one of our campaigns.”

Known for his friendly disposition, Spahn directs the human resources policy for MNA’s 33 employees. He also helps direct the William B. Travis Campaign Academy, MNA’s annual campaign school that has trained over 180 new and ongoing campaign operatives in the last two years alone.

“I am very excited and humbled to be a part of what Murphy Nasica has accomplished and what it continues to build,” said Spahn. “I look forward to our future successes as a company.”

Spahn is a graduate of DePauw University in Indiana, where he earned his Bachelor’s in Political Science and History. He also earned a Master’s in Public Affairs at the LBJ School at the University of Texas, and he previously served at the McCain Institute for International Leadership in Washington D.C. and in the office of Speaker of the Texas House.

Murphy Nasica & Associates is a full-service consulting firm with offices in Dallas, Austin, and Washington D.C. Its mission is to elect Republican candidates at every level of the ballot. First founded in Texas in 2013, Murphy Nasica has operated in 23 states. The firm’s work is currently nominated for 30 national Reed Awards from Campaigns & Elections Magazine.

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Director of Analytics Blake Reynolds Named Partner at Murphy Nasica

January 31, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: January 31, 2019
CONTACT: Craig Murphy
PHONE: 817-845-0111
EMAIL: craig@murphynasica.com

Director of Analytics Blake Reynolds Named Partner at Murphy Nasica

Murphy Nasica & Associates (MNA), one of America’s largest political consulting firms, today named Blake Reynolds as its newest partner. Reynolds is a brilliant political scientist and statistician who built one of the most reliable political targeting and predictive models in the nation.

As Head of MNA’s Analytics department over the last six years, Reynolds has overseen the firm’s successful efforts in the areas of methodology and modeling; polling and research; database management; data analysis; and, analysis application design and programming.

During that time, Reynolds developed more than 40 different product quality models to predict and analyze voter behavior – including vote choice, turnout probability, and issue prediction. Additionally, Reynolds designed and built national individual voter-level models for every voter in the U.S. and has created and conducted more than 1,000 internal polling projects.

“In so many cases, Blake’s keen academic approach to strategy has made political theory a reality and elevated hundreds of candidates to victory,” said MNA Partner Ross Hunt. “With Blake on our team, we have the finest statistical mind in politics driving each of our campaigns.”

A political scientist first and foremost, Reynolds brings his expertise in predictive modeling, statistics and mathematics, methodology architecture, data analysis, and algorithm design to all of MNA’s races.

Before joining MNA, Blake earned his BA in Political Science at the University of Texas at Dallas. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Wisconsin.

Murphy Nasica & Associates is a full-service consulting firm with offices in Dallas, Austin, and Washington D.C. Its mission is to elect Republican candidates at every level of the ballot. First founded in Texas in 2013, Murphy Nasica has operated in 23 states. The firm’s work is currently nominated for 30 national Reed Awards from Campaigns & Elections Magazine.

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Murphy Nasica Announces Creative Director Joey Parr as New Partner

January 31, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: January 31, 2019
CONTACT: Craig Murphy
PHONE: 817-845-0111
EMAIL: craig@murphynasica.com

Murphy Nasica Announces Creative Director Joey Parr as New Partner

Murphy Nasica & Associates (MNA), one of the largest, winningest political consulting firms in the nation, today introduced their new company partner: Creative Director Joey Parr.

As MNA’s Creative Director, Parr has overseen the writing, producing, directing, and buying of all of the firm’s television, radio, mail, and digital advertising over the last five years.

Parr’s eye-catching, cinematic ads have helped shape the Texas political landscape. In the last year alone, he wrote, produced, and directed breakthrough TV and radio spots for state legislators Steve Allison, Ernest Bailes, Keith Bell, Dennis Bonnen, Charlie Geren, Cody Harris, Ken King, Lyle Larson, Chris Paddie, and Kel Seliger. Parr also produced the San Antonio Firefighters’ winning bilingual spots for ballot Props A, B, & C.

“Joey is a top-level strategist and a master of political TV,” said Craig Murphy. “Even when he knows the outcome of a massive campaign depends entirely on the TV spot he produces, Joey coolly delivers. He doesn’t react to the pressure, he applies it.”

Parr also pioneered the 6-second political spot – delivering quick, less-skippable jabs on digital platforms. His television and radio work is nominated for 14 national awards from Campaigns & Elections Magazine. A client once called him “the Spielberg of political advertising.”

“Our candidates’ success determines the success of millions of Americans,” said Parr. “As a new partner at Murphy Nasica, I look forward to helping our nation’s best leaders achieve their vision for the future.”

Parr is a graduate of Texas Christian University, where he earned his Bachelor’s in Political Science and Radio/TV/Film. Parr also earned a Master’s in Public Affairs at the LBJ School at the University of Texas and previously served as a Chief of Staff in the Texas House of Representatives. Parr’s independent films have been featured at film festivals across the country.

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Ross Hunt’s Ballot of Success

September 19, 2017

Alumnus Receives Claremont Institute 2017 Lincoln Fellowship

Date Published: Sept. 13, 2017

Before co-founding one of the nation’s most recognized conservative consulting agencies in the Lone Star State, alumnus Ross Hunt, PhD ’16, withdrew from his doctoral studies at the University of Dallas, shelving his dissertation on the verge of graduation — to return nearly a decade later.

As one of 14 recently announced Claremont Institute Lincoln Fellows, Hunt now joins the ranks of some of the nation’s most influential professionals working in politics. The Claremont Institute’s Lincoln Fellowship provides a forum for discussion, collaboration and insight into how the conservatism, statesmanship and political thought of America’s founding should help guide today’s policymakers, bringing together some of the country’s most prominent young professionals working in politics, policy, journalism and law.

“There were a lot of early mornings,” recalled Hunt, reflecting on his return to UD in 2016 to complete his dissertation on “Cyropaedia” (meaning the “Education of Cyrus”) by the ancient Greek philosopher Xenophon of Athens, thereby earning his doctorate in political theory from the Braniff Graduate School of Liberal Arts Institute of Philosophic Studies (IPS).

“One of the greatest gifts I gained from my education at UD was a perspective in political theory that provides a foundation and framework for our firm’s application of statistical prediction,” said Hunt, after paying tribute to his UD education and mentors Leo Paul de Alvarez, professor emeritus of politics, and Tom West, professor of politics (now director and senior fellow at the Claremont Institute).

In 2009, with classmate Matthew Larry Brownfield, MA ’08, Hunt co-founded Nasica Consulting (named after the Roman statesman Publius Scipio Nasica), and the pair began running legislative campaigns for conservative candidates throughout the state. Hunt and Brownfield’s partnership grew over the years as they tallied up win after win in Texas’ heated political furnace, finally evolving into Murphy Nasica & Associates in 2013.

Almost immediately after its founding, Murphy Nasica & Associates became the largest and most successful political consulting firm in the state, campaigning and consulting for prominent politicians in Texas and across the country, with clients such as Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, Governor Greg Abbott and the California Republican Party.

Among his many accomplishments, Hunt directed the invention of statistical models of voter turnout and political opinion that were instrumental in securing the Republican majority in the Texas State Legislature, aided in the elimination of a Democratic supermajority in the California State Legislature in 2014 and supervised the development of political campaigning applications, including the award-winning canvassing app Cyrus Mobile (named after Xenophon’s fictional biography of Cyrus the Great).

“Having an understanding of the principles that underlie the political regime makes it possible to predict and grasp outcomes that can never be understood by traditional polling models,” said Hunt. “Only by recognizing which political ends and principles are not subject to deterministic calculation is it possible to intuit the limits of statistical modeling.”

In 2016, Murphy Nasica & Associates grew to 38 employees, collaborating on 151 campaigns for Republican candidates and conservative action groups in 15 different states. According to Hunt, they project running anywhere between 200 to 250 campaigns in the next year.

“We’ve already begun gearing up for the Texas primaries,” said Hunt. “The campaign I run never really ends.”

The only political campaign consultant to earn this year’s prized fellowship, Hunt remains a pioneer among his colleagues. 2017 Lincoln Fellows include writers and editors for the The New York Times, Weekly StandardAmerican Conservative and Conservative Review, senior staffers for Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Rob Portman (R-OH); as well as current and former policy experts from The Heritage Foundation and Texas Public Policy Foundation.

“Claremont has always prided itself in finding the best and brightest rising conservatives and providing them with a firm understanding of the enduring truths articulated in the Declaration of Independence,” said Claremont Institute President Michael Pack.

The Claremont Institute was founded in 1979 by students of Professor Harry Jaffa, with the goal of studying and teaching the principles of the American Founding to the next generation of conservative leaders.


To learn more about the Claremont Institute Lincoln Fellowship, visit www.claremont.org.
Discover the University of Dallas Institute for Philosophic Studies at udallas.edu/phd.

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