Civic Campaigns are about citizens trying to get the votes of politicians. This differs from political campaigns, where politicians are trying to get the votes of citizens – or at least some citizens.

Political campaigns do a lot of voter targeting; that is they work to understand their base voters while identifying swing voters and subgroups therein. In the same vein, civic campaigns have to target and understand our political leaders in order to accomplish their goal: convincing those leaders to vote the way they want them to.

A successful civic campaign will spend the time necessary to identify both the key elected officials who are the actual decision makers on an issue as well as the other elected officials who can influence those key decision makers. And a successful civic campaign will do the research to find out what really makes each one of them tick.

Some time ago I came upon this excellent article from Civic Strategies, Inc. The article lists five types of mayoral leadership styles, briefly summarized here:

  1. Deal-Maker Mayor: A real wheeler-dealer who loves to grab headlines, usually over development projects. Think of Mayor Donald Trump.
  2. Ethnic-Champion Mayor: Usually found in cities that went through an ethnic transition. A mayor determined to level the playing field, but who sometimes can become blinded to everything else a Mayor must do. Think of Mayor Wilson Goode from Philadelphia.
  3. Managerial Mayor: A mayor who wants to make government better, cheaper, and faster. Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City comes to mind.
  4. Reform/Protest Mayor: This is a mayor elected to protest some condition or issue. They usually fade after the issue fades. Think of Sarah Palin when she was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska.
  5. Urbanist/Neighborhood Mayor: This mayor tends to stay in office a long time and gets excited over everything from new skyscrapers downtown to new grocery stores and tree plantings in neighborhoods. Think of Mayor Thomas Menino from Boston.

I wrote an article using these five styles to describe some of the past mayors of Pittsburgh.

The point for civic campaigns is to try to understand the leadership styles, as well as the personal backgrounds, that led to the governing style of the elected official you are trying to influence.