There are many things you must do to put your campaign to bed, win or lose. However, before taking down your lawn signs, bundling your stakes, paying your bills, finishing reports for the state, closing out bank accounts, and reassembling your house, you must first face election night.
On election night, if you are not in a well-known location with other candidates and their volunteer teams, you should let the press know where they can find you. I have held campaign parties in restaurants and at my home. I prefer my home. In the last days of the campaign, I let my volunteers know that I will be home and throwing a party in honor of them and a great campaign. I live in a small town, so people call and stop by all night. It is difficult to stay home and watch returns alone if you have been involved in a campaign, especially a winning one. Most people drop by to share the excitement, even if it is just for a few minutes. My home is open.
If your campaign covered an area larger than one city, you might need to go to a more central and public location. Again, tell all your volunteers where you will be and invite them. I try to spend election day or even the weekend before the election calling and personally thanking my volunteers. This is also a good time to remind them to join me on election night. Don't wait to thank them until after the election. If you lose, volunteers are anxious to talk and reflect and comfort, and you are anxious to sit alone on the floor of a dark closet with the door closed.
There is no preparing for a loss, and I'm not even sure people ever get over it. It will change your life, just as winning will. But win or lose, you must be prepared to face the media and do it with class.
In one election on which I worked, I sat with the candidate as the first big returns came in. The shock that went through us as we realized we were losing is indescribable. I remember cameras pointing at our faces. There is something predatory and morose about our society when it comes to watching a leader fall. We had expected a win and were not prepared for what was before us.
"Always let losers|
|-- Francis Bacon|