You can't get a college degree in political consulting. It's an occupation cobbled together from diverse fields and personality traits, and it's one of the few occupations where one typically starts as a volunteer. Many a consultant wound up in politics as a career because he or she liked a particular candidate and volunteered to help on a campaign. They get to know the players, and get the opportunity to display their talents.Politics is not a job for the timid. The political consultant's job, quite simply, is to get the client elected, and that task cannot be performed within the confines of a nine-to-five workday. This is a world of 24-hour news cycles, and if a campaign related story breaks in early morning, it's time to get up. The life of a political consultant is for people who like a fast-paced competitive career and aren't afraid to put in long hours.
The successful career of a political consultant is based on one thing: winning. It doesn't matter if a consultant is charming, witty and wise. If he can't post wins in the victory column, he will be challenged to attract new clients.The average salary of a political consultant is $66,000 according to , the job website that keeps statistics. Big city salaries are higher. In New York the average is $106,000 and in Washington, D.C. the average is $104,000.Research is a big part of the job, not only on the client's opponent, but on the client as well. If there's bad news, better the consultant find out about it early rather than reading about it in the newspaper.Opposition research, often referred to as oppo research is, quite simply, digging for dirt. Oppo research is the fodder that a "negative campaign" runs on. Negative campaigning has a bad reputation, and political consultants are often criticized for it. But as long as the ads are true, why not let the public know? If the consultant finds that the opponent had a felony conviction, should the public not be aware of that?Opinion polling is one of the most important tools at a political consultant's disposal. Polls can be conducted by independent polling companies or in-house by a political consultant.
The results of these polls are not generally made public; they're for strategy planning. If, however, the polls are positive, you will often hear a consultant say something like, "according to our internal polling, the Congresswoman is doing very well in the suburban area of her district."Polling data is plugged into databases that are kept over the years. If the data, for example, shows a candidate polling well in areas with lots of children, those areas will get special attention.Fundraising can make or break a political campaign. In a small campaign, fundraising advice and activities are part of the political consultant's role. Larger campaigns, such as Senatorial or Presidential races usually hire separate fundraising consultants.At the upper levels of politics are the rock stars, consultants who have become national figures. They include James Carville, his wife Mary Matalin, Karl Rove, Paul Begala, and the list goes on.Political consulting can be an exciting and remunerative career for the right person.