The short answer: communicate to your district’s voters exclusively about the issues they care about.
Easier Said Than Done
Of course you’re thinking, “what about when voters ask about ________ (insert flamethrower issue that’s nearly irrelevant to your candidacy). It’s simple, you pivot.
As much as we say we dislike the idea of a candidate (or anyone on a platform) not responding to an immediate question directly, what matters more is the ensuing response. And all the while, you get to claim that your campaign is about serving your city’s/ district’s/ state’s people, not getting tangled in another leader’s words.
Tips & Examples
For starters, your campaign shouldn’t host many Q&A opportunities. These are rarely wins as you can lose control over the narrative— however they can be helpful if you pre-screen questions and make sure your candidate is prepared.
Heated voter: “What do you think about about President Trump’s statement that [insert irrelevant scandalous comment here]?”
Wise candidate: “Since I only have limited time with you all, I’d like to keep my conversations about the specific issues affecting your home and jobs every day. Things like [insert real challenges and opportunities that your campaign is speaking to]...”
Wrapping it up
The best politician doesn’t feel political and connects with people through nuance and a beating heart. So the anti-thesis to this should be stated: do not get so sterile to speaking about anything but your talking points that you drive people away.
When the questions that have to do with the current administration’s actions matter to your voters, they matter to you. Half the battle is learning how to funnel your messaging through the things that will turn your contact with voters into wins, not traps.