By Scott Strasser, March 8, 2016 —
Other than being elected for Students’ Union executive positions next year, what do Tristan Bray and Patrick Ma have in common? The answer is that this wasn’t the pair’s first time running an SU campaign — and they were both better off for it.
Both Bray and Ma ran in the 2015 election and finished second. It took another attempt for the two to learn from their mistakes and come out on top.
If you look at past SU elections, you’ll see this trend repeat itself. Hana Kadri lost the race for vice-president academic in 2013, but came back to win in 2014 with a 30 per cent increase in votes. Her predecessor Emily Macphail also lost as a faculty representative candidate before she was eventually elected as vice-president academic.
In general, candidates who lose their first race usually do better in their second election. Even if a candidate doesn’t win their second time out, they’ll likely get a higher percentage of the vote. Mallory Lupick lost the race for vice-president student life two years in a row, but finished with more votes during her sophomore run.
This isn’t exactly a revelation. It makes sense that a candidate will approach their second time running with more confidence, a stronger platform and a better idea of what to expect. But the hard part is actually making the decision to try a second time.
Running in an SU campaign is an exhausting ordeal. Executive candidates spend weeks — sometimes even months — crafting their platform and coming up with plans to achieve their goals. They run around campus for the entire campaign, hanging posters, visiting classrooms and spending hours repeating their ideas to countless students. They endure the interview for the Gauntlet election supplement and debate their competitors in the MacHall forums. To go through all that, only to lose in the end, must be heart-wrenching. It takes guts to run again.
Bray finished with 28 per cent of the vote last year. This year, he won by a landslide and was the only executive candidate to win by majority. Bray told me he “improved in every possible way” from last year’s campaign. He started earlier, added a video and presented himself better in forums.
Ma said much the same. He admitted he was nervous last year when it came to speaking with students, but approached this year with increased confidence. He also said he arrived earlier during the day to maximize how many classrooms he could visit. All of these small improvements add up making a huge difference to potential voters.
Students who ran this year and didn’t get elected shouldn’t be discouraged from running in the future. As long as they learn from their mistakes they will almost certainly improve.