By Ann DeLaney

Part of Politics For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Because you’ve only one vote to cast, your candidate choice is crucial. How do you know what to look for in a political candidate? Do a little research to help you get to know something about each candidate and use these useful tips:

Things to Look For

  • Does the candidate appear intelligent, or is he just filling out the suit?

  • Is the candidate qualified for the job?

  • Does she have the education and experience to handle the job?

  • Do you agree with the programs and ideas the candidate has proposed?

  • Are you comfortable with the groups and the individuals who support the candidate?

  • Can you trust the candidate?

  • Does he pass the elevator test? (If an elevator door opened in front of you and getting on meant you would ride alone with the candidate, would you get on?)

  • Is the candidate a leader?

  • Does she have ideas of her own?

Things to Watch Out For

  • Candidates who make appeals to your emotions — not to your intelligence

  • Candidates who identify problems — but don’t propose realistic solutions

  • Candidates who offer simple, no-sacrifice solutions to complex problems

  • Candidates who talk exclusively about hot-button issues such as race, immigration, the flag, English as the official language, and class warfare, but not about such issues as taxes, health care, and the budget

  • Candidates with shady dealings in their backgrounds

  • Candidates who tell you what they think you want to hear

  • Candidates who use negative campaign tactics to give you a false impression of the competition

How to Supporting Your Candidate

  • Volunteer your time — contact voters, organize events, distribute literature.

  • Contribute money or help the candidate raise money.

  • Urge others to support your candidate.

  • Remember to vote for your candidate on election day.