In the primaries, staff devoted to raising money are essential to ensure the constant flow of money necessary to grease the wheels of any presidential campaign.
They work with big donors and engage in direct-mail and internet campaigns to raise money.
Candidates need to hire a legal team to keep their campaigns in compliance with the regulations of the FEC.
An effective campaign begins with a clear understanding of how the candidate's strengths fit with the context of the times and the mood of the voters.
The 2008 Obama presidential campaign is considered by many observers to be one of the best-run campaigns in modern American politics.
The campaign narrative was nearly complete with the use of technology and a large and well-organized volunteer component.
The Obama campaign was praised for its organization and technological innovation.
The strategic effort the campaign made early on to frame the narrative of the election as a choice between two candidates rather than a referendum on the president is sometimes lost in the awe of the data-crunching and GOTV operation.
The campaign felt that it would lose the election because of slow economic growth and the Republicans' success in denying the president any legislative victories, so as soon as Romney was the Republican nominee, it began to define him as a wealthy plutocrat.
The Romney campaign allowed the Obama campaign to have the stage to themselves in the summer before the election.
It was too late for Romney's campaign to introduce him as they wanted voters to see him as a bipartisan economic problem-solver.
Voters' perception were locked in.
The Trump campaign deviated from the conventional wisdom again.
The candidate did not release his tax returns, produced a superficial medical report, spoke offensive about women, Hispanics, and Muslims, and refused to acknowledge that Barack Obama was a citizen.
After kicking off his campaign, Trump was recorded mocking a disabled reporter.
He bragged in a radio interview that his fame allowed him to assault women without consequences, and that he walked in on beauty contestants while they were undressed.
The race for governor of Virginia turned ugly when Ed Gillespie ran campaign ads that supported sanctuary cities and the violent gang MS-13.
Issues matter to voters as they decide how to vote.
Issues are central to the candidate's strategy for being elected.
There are two kinds of issues to consider when planning a strategy from the candidate's point of view.
Motherhood and apple pie issues are not opposed by anyone.
Everyone wants a prosperous economy, a respected leadership role in the world, thrift in government, and a clean environment.
There are people who are pro-life and people who are pro-choice on abortion.
There are two types of people on military engagements such as Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan.
Although a clear stand means that they will gain some friends, it also guarantees that they will make enemies.
Candidates who want to win as many votes as possible try to avoid being identified with the losing side of important position issues.
Activists in the Republican Party tried to keep their pro-life plank in the platform in 2000.
Candidates don't emphasize the pro-life position in the general election because a majority of the electorate is against it.
Immigration was one of the issues that candidates took vastly different positions on.
Trump promised to deport 11 million workers and build a wall to keep them out.
Clinton favored a path to citizenship for immigrants.
The other side uses a difficult position issue as a wedge issue when candidates or parties take a stand on it.
A position issue on which the parties differ is controversial within the ranks of a particular party.
Expanding Social Security benefits is not a controversial position for a Democrat.
Many working-class members of the base support it, but traditional small-government Republicans don't.
An astute strategy for a Democratic candidate is to raise the issue, hoping to drive a wedge between the Republicans and to recruit to his or her side the Republican supporters of Social Security.
Each of the parties is perceived to be better able to handle certain kinds of problems because of their past stands and performance.
The Democrats may be seen as better able to deal with education issues, while the Republicans may be better able to solve crime-related problems.
Since his days as an undergrad at the University of Chicago, Axelrod has been an adopted Chicagoan.
After falling in love with the city, he began an internship at the Chicago Tribune, where he spent two and a half years covering local politics on the night shift before landing a coveted column.
When he left the paper to start his own consulting business, he had been bitten by the campaign bug.
The man who has been instrumental in running so many campaigns says they are like a narcotic.
They are experiences where you are running full speed for months, sometimes years, and all for a single day.
You are looking for the next challenge when they end.
Axelrod's story is about finding inspiration not just in volunteers and students, but in authentic figures who can see themselves clearly in relation to their times, and who believe in the power of good government to make people's lives better.
He believes authenticity is the key to making a public figureelectable.
He says authenticity is an essential ingredient for successful candidates and leaders.
The seeming lack of authenticity he was finding in those seeking out his services caused him to work with Barack Obama.
This seemed to me to be a way to replenish my batteries.
He says, "My job whenever I talk to young people, but certainly at the University, is to make the point that whatever equity you care about, whether it's human rights, climate change, deficits, education."