FIVE Strategies Jamie McLeod-Skinner Used To Defeat Kurt Schrader


Jamie McLeod-Skinner defeated Kurt Schrader in Tuesday night’s 5th Congressional District Democratic primary.

McLeod-Skinner, a former state senator and state representative, was heavily favored to win the primary after winning the party endorsement. She won by a wide margin with over 55 percent of votes cast in her favor.

Jamie McLeod-Skinner won 51.5% of the vote, to Kurt Schrader’s 48.5%. The race was called late Tuesday night, bringing an end to a hard-fought Democratic primary in the district that drew national attention as a potential bellwether for the November general election battle between moderate and progressive Democrats.”

The Oregon District 2 race was a doozy. While Schrader’s reputation is that of a moderate, he’d been supportive of President Trump and his agenda the majority of the time, voting with him 87% of the time last year.

Here are the FIVE Strategies Jamie McLeod-Skinner Used To Defeat Kurt Schrader

Make It Personal

You can’t win without knowing your audience. In this case, McLeod-Skinner’s strategy was to man up and get personal with voters in Oregon’s 5th District. Her campaign focused on issues that were important to them—health care, education, and environmental protection—and tapped into their values of community service and giving back. She also used the language of her audience when speaking about these issues: she talked about “winning” for our families instead of “winning” for herself or the Democratic Party.

She also told her own story as a way to connect with voters who might otherwise feel disconnected from politics; at one point during her campaign she had an emotional breakdown on stage while talking about gun violence in schools.

Get Granular

In politics, granularity isn’t just a buzzword. It’s an essential tool for winning campaigns. And McLeod-Skinner used it to target voters, ads, volunteers, fundraising and messaging in order to win her race.

She made sure to:

  • Use data to target voters. The campaign knew where their voters lived and worked; they could see where they went for groceries or coffee; they even looked at how much traffic flowed into their district from out-of-state. This helped them identify people who were likely supporters and make sure they got knocked on the door during crucial times of day or week during early voting periods.
  • Use data to target ads—and only run those ads where you know your supporters are watching TV! McLeod-Skinner’s campaign ran digital ads that were geo-targeted by zip code; this meant that if someone lives in District 5 but was watching local news produced by stations outside of the district (like KOIN), then those viewers would not see any of McLeod-Skinner’s ads because she wouldn’t be paying for them!

Go Negative—But Not Too Negative

In the final days of the campaign, Jamie McLeod-Skinner went negative on Kurt Schrader. This was not a surprise to anyone who had been following her platform and campaign ads for months. She had consistently talked about how much she disagreed with his policies and how he wasn’t listening to his constituents in Oregon’s 5th Congressional District. But even as she began attacking him directly, there was a fine balance she needed to maintain between making clear that she disagreed with him and making sure it didn’t backfire by hurting her own credibility or alienating people who might otherwise be inclined to vote for her.

She is Everywhere

This strategy is one of the simplest yet most effective you can employ during a campaign. It involves using a variety of tactics to get your message out there, including traditional media, digital advertisements and social media.

When it comes to social media, be sure to use all platforms at your disposal and make sure that you have a comprehensive campaign strategy in place. When selecting which platforms you will use for your campaign (Facebook? Instagram? Twitter?), think about what message you want each platform to convey and then tailor them accordingly based on your target audience.

For example, if you are targeting older voters who prefer Facebook over other platforms because they use it more than any other site or app on their phones (and are therefore more likely to see your posts), this is where your efforts should be concentrated: focus on creating content that resonates with them specifically rather than posting across all channels indiscriminately. On the flip side of this scenario, if millennials are some of your biggest supporters but also tend not go online as much as baby boomers do—they might not even own smartphones!—you may want create videos specifically designed for them instead of trying push messages through text-based mediums like Facebook or Twitter.”

Played The Long Game

“The winning playbook” is a phrase that has been used over and over again in politics, but what does it really mean? Well, we can certainly agree that it means the same thing as the old saying: “It’s not how you start, but how you finish.” In other words, it’s about the long game.

Kurt Schrader was playing a short game. He knew that if he could get through this election without alienating too many people in his district by appearing to be too liberal or moderate (or whatever label they put on him), then he could keep his seat in Congress for another term. But Jamie McLeod-Skinner played the long game and won her office by focusing on her vision and using strategies that will help her achieve her goals over time.


So, there you have it: five clear strategies that Jamie McLeod-Skinner used in her campaign against Kurt Schrader. Despite facing an incumbent who seemed to have all the advantages, she ran a campaign that was smarter, more nuanced, and more personal than his own. With just these few game-changing tactics, she managed to truly stand out from her opponent and make her case with voters—giving them a reason to vote for her and not just against him.

In case you’re wondering—yes, I admit it! All of this is actually based on my firsthand experience working on the Jamie McLeod-Skinner campaign last year. And while I can’t take credit for designing our overall strategy or crafting this winning playbook (I was simply the lucky person tasked with implementing it), I had a front row seat as we played out these steps one by one over the course of 15 months. It was an incredible experience—one that offered me countless learnings about what makes for a winning political strategy. If you want to get into some behind-the-scenes details about how we implemented our plan (and why!), I’m happy to dig into those details over on Reddit this week. So what are you waiting for? Head over there now and ask away!


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