Keys to Effective General Election Voter ID

As the campaign season shifts from the primaries to the general, smart campaigns are already re-tacking their ground operations to prepare for November. This shouldn't be a discovery of new principles but rather a re-gearing of the campaign infrastructure to prepare for a new, and largely un-touched, universe of voters.

Much of this re-tooling requires that many strategic questions have been answered, such as:

  • Do I have an opponent in the election and, if so, what kind of threat do they pose?
  • What is my campaign's current financial situation and what kind of ground activity does my project budget allow?
  • Will I r ely more heavily on volunteers or paid staff?
  • How many, and what type of voters, do I anticipate will vote in the election?
  • What issues resonate with the voters I need to win and how can I message to them effectively?
  • Have I purchased and appended phone numbers to my likely voter universe?
  • Are we equipped with a robust software solution to handle our voter contact and data? (Hint: Campaign Sidekick is the answer to this question!)

After answering your strategic questions, you are ready to begin the process of identifying, persuading and turning out your voters.


The voter identification process should ideally begin 3-4 Months before the election. During this phase, your focus is on finding likely voters who SHOULD vote for you. Using robo-surveys, live calls and door-to-door canvassing, you will use a messaging survey to identify voters' concerns, where they stand on important issues and their feelings on the political climate at large.

The costs of these means of contact relate inversely to the quality of the contact rendered. However, during the identification phase, volume is your friend and quality is slightly less critical. Robo-calls commonly range in price from 2.25-3 cents per dial while paid live calls may be 30-50 cents and door knocking may be $3-5. Even with volunteers handling calls and canvassing, your per-hour tradeoff is likely 60-100 calls to 15-25 doors.

That's all to say that you don't want all your eggs in one basket. Campaigns that do are quickly defeated.

Your goal is similar to a sales-rep who has to move people from cold contacts to a completed sale. There are multiple phases of the pipeline and you want to move people through it as efficiently as possible.

Our goal is to move your universe of likely voters into your campaign sales funnel and have at least 50% + 1 of them end in actual votes. You've already identified your voter universe, appended phone numbers to their voter records and set up your CampaignSidekick portal with your issues survey. Now you're ready for action!

By using the cheaper means of contact in initial passes, you will reduce the per-voter cost of identification and increase the rate at which identification occurs. Initial passes with robo-surveys, followed by rounds of live-calls should provide a strong universe of identified voters. These means of contact also have the advantage of not being constrained by geography.

Once these initial contact attempts have occurred, it is a simple matter to isolate non-contacted voters who live in dense enough areas for door-to-door canvassing.

As your contact with persuadable voters occurs, a micro-targeted rapid response should be sent by mail to the voters.

Based on the primary set of issues that the campaign is messaging on, letters or direct mail pieces should be drafted up to give voters more information about the candidate's stance on the issues they self-identify as caring the most about. By following up quickly, it's possible to have a micro-targeted response in the voter's hands within 48hrs of initial contact from the campaign. The rapidity and specificity of this type of response has proven to be incredibly effective.

This identification phase of the campaign will generally be the longest phase of voter contact that you'll undertake. The goal is to pull enough voters into the campaign sales funnel that you can win based on their persuasion. Daily attention to progress and the responses from voters will also provide critical intelligence to inform campaign strategy.​

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