There are a lot of campaigns that bootstrap themselves throughout an election season. They aren’t making decisions about $50,000 mail pieces. They are worrying about spending $500 for yard signs or campaign literature.
Political campaigns are about reducing every decision and action to the essentials. Among these essentials is voter contact and inside voter contact, you should have a simple, easy to execute plan that is sequential.
We deal with a lot of campaigns, from city council to United States Senate.
Inevitably, the first question we get is, “Where do we start?”
We have a lot of blog posts and podcasts on that subject, so we won’t spend much time on it other than to say: spend a day or two figuring out your universe of voters before loading them into your CampaignSidekick portal.
Once your data set is established and loaded, now what?
It’s time to start contacting voters and here is a good pattern for you to establish.
Start easy. If you have good data, you will have data with phone numbers appended to your voter files (if you don’t, spend money to get phone numbers appended ASAP).
Find an IVR system that can do a simple three question, automated survey along the lines of (we like Victory Phones):
Q1) Are you planning to voter this November 6th? Press 1 for “Yes.” Press 2 for “No.” Press 3 for “Undecided.”
Q2) If you are planning to vote, will you vote for Candidate X? Press 1 for “Yes.” Press 2 for “No.” Press 3 for “Undecided.”
If you have the right team, a round of IVR calls will cost you no more than a few hundred dollars and a few days, but suddenly your voter data will be enriched with some good data points.
After a couple of rounds of IVR calls, start shifting your voter contact efforts to live phone calls. We make this easy inside Sidekick with our VoIP phone system. Volunteers can plug a headset into their lap tops, smart phones or tablets and start calling and surveying.
At this point your survey will start getting more complex and your universe bifurcated. You are still going to want to touch every voter you can to find out if they are voting and who they are voting for, but you’re also going to have an expanding universe of voters with various data points.
It is the universe of voters who are voting but are undecided that you will need to focus on with a longer, slightly more complicated survey. You want to know what motivates these undecided voters-what is their #1 issue? What do they worry about? Depending on how big your universe of voters is, your initial round of phone calls could take a month.
The idea is that through these first two rounds, IVR and live calls, you are refining your universe of voters for your door knockers.
Here is where it gets fun. Using Sidekick, you can now layer in different data points like, “Left VM” or still “Undecided” after two or more contacts so that your walk and call teams’ universes become even more granular.
Start hitting the doors of the folks who had a VM left by a member of the campaign. If you still don’t get someone at the door, have your walkers take minute and write a quick, legible note: “Sorry to miss you, please remember to get out and vote for Candidate X on November 6th!”
The idea with voter contact is to be purposeful and sequential. Only do that which is essential to ID your voters and get them quickly into your column. You’ll be surprised at how well you do.