Prepare to be attacked before you are.

Prepare to be attacked before you are.

Prepare to be attacked before you are.

Here’s today’s tip: Prepare to be attacked before you are.

Anybody familiar with politics or political campaigns has heard about opposition research. That’s where you find out everything possible about your opponent, both to know where they are strong and weak.

The flip side of that coin is far less well-known and tragically so. What I’m talking about is a vulnerability study, or self-oppo.

If you saw yourself as an easy target for attack or someone has done things he or she can’t answer for, you’re probably not going to be running for public office. And in that false security lies the fatal deceit that has ended so many campaigns.

I don’t care if you’re Mother Teresa or Mr. Rogers, when you run for political office, you’ll be attacked. The more you know in advance about the vector and particulars of those attacks, the better able you are to prevent or prepare for them.

This shouldn’t be quarterbacked by the candidate or those closest to them. When I’m conducting a vulnerability study, I want the operator to dig as deep as they can and try to figure out every possible, sinister way that my opponents can attack me. Then we can determine the best ways to armor ourselves, prepare for counterattack or conduct a controlled detonation by getting out in front of an issue.

Allowing a candidate to guide the vulnerability study virtually always leads to negatives being underplayed. It’s a human reaction but the results have killed more campaigns than I can count.

Learn more about opposition research and vulnerability studies by listening to our interviews with John Lappe and Willis Jones!

To find out more about what it takes to win a political campaign, go to You can also check out our interviews with Candidates, Elected Officials, Consultants and Campaign Staff on the How to Run for Office Podcast! On Facebook, you can find our campaign mastermind group by searching for the Elite Campaign Mastermind and our page under My Campaign Coach. If you want to help support our efforts, you can do that with financial support via or by giving us a nice rating on iTunes!

Raz Shafer

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