Political Independents and Why They Matter to You

During each election cycle we hear about the elusive independent voters, who are apparently the deciding voters of every election. But what do we actually know about their importance or the best way to reach them?

There has been an argument recently that both parties have been neglecting their swing voters and instead of trying to persuade these swing voters, have focused their efforts on much more involved voters.

Political Autonomy

Before you can begin to try to persuade independent voters toward your cause, you need to have a little more information about what makes them tick. The first thing that identifies an independent is political autonomy, meaning that they are proud that they don’t think like the rest of the population, and because of that, they are proud not to have the label of “Republican” or “Democrat.”

Dislike for Political Parties

Secondly, more often than not, independent voters have a very strong dislike for political parties and partisan players, and the next thing that sets independents apart would be that they are indifferent to any and all political parties and their affiliates.

Inconsistent Voters

Finally, independent voters could be classified as being inconsistent. Independents might vote Democrat during one election and then Republican the next.

There is a case to be made for saying that the Independents who lean Republican are different from the Independents who lean Democrat. According to Zachary Cook’s research in “The Younger, More Independent Republican Leaner,” he argued that this was because independents who leaned toward the GOP were less economically conservative than the party, and thus felt more cross pressure than independents who leaned toward the Democrats.

Even though independent voters are more likely to pride themselves on thinking outside of the box, it is interesting to note that according to a study done in 2012 by the Pew Research Center, independents are less likely to be informed when it comes to what is happening in the world of politics.

Download the Voter Gravity report here by Dr. George Hawley, assistant professor of political science at the University of Alabama, to dive into the latest research revealing recent trends that impact your campaign. Discover the answers to these important questions:

  • Partisans are your most reliable voters, but are many independents closet partisans?
  • What is the difference between independents who lean toward the Democratic Party, and those who lean toward the Republican Party?
  • Is the number of self-described independents increasing and if so, at which party’s expense?
  • Do independents pay less attention to politics?

Download Full Report: Political Independents: Who They Are and How to Reach Them

How Social Media Impacts Elections

In a digital age, your campaign must have a strong online presence—and that means more than just an email account and website.

By using Facebook, President Obama was able to connect with voters during the 2012 election cycle, in swing states who lacked listed phone numbers. According a survey released in 2012, 22 percent of registered voters used a social media site —such as Facebook or Twitter—to let others know how they voted. 30% reported that they were encouraged to vote for either President Obama or Governor Romney by friends and family on a social networking site, and 20 percent used a social networking site to encourage others to vote.

These numbers are even higher when we look exclusively at younger voters. Among voters under the age of 30, these percentages were 45 percent, 29 percent, and 34 percent, respectively.

During the 2012 election, face-to-face communication was the number one way of encouraging voters to get out and vote. The second most frequent method was social networking sites – social networking sites were used for this purpose more frequently than emails, texts, or phone calls.

Clearly, average voters are using online social networks to influence their friends and family on political matters. Facebook even has the option for you to let people know that you voted—and you can even pick who you voted for.

In 2006, it was found that Democrats were more likely to engage in campaigning online than Republicans were. This edge over the Republicans only became stronger during the 2008 election. Interestingly enough, Republican congressional candidates were found to have a stronger presence on Youtube than Democrats.

Before the Iowa caucuses in 2008, a study found that nearly 48 percent of students and young people received their news from a social media site, which it’s not hard to figure out that they would use social media to gather information on political candidates.

The idea that a well managed social media campaign can turn out a high volume vote can’t be dismissed due to the fact that individuals who saw that their friends voted/who they voted for were actually more likely to vote.

According to Facebook, the candidates who were most successful on Facebook, won their races. Following the 2010 congressional elections, Facebook claimed that in 74 percent of House races, the candidates with the most Facebook “fans” won their races. This was also true of 81 percent of Senate candidates. With that being said, however, we should be more skeptical of data and results received from social media than say, gallup.

Use your social media accounts to build name recognition, get your message out there and turn out the vote to win! Find out more by downloading Social Politics: The Impact of Social Networking on Political Campaigns:

Download the Voter Gravity report here by Dr. George Hawley, assistant professor of political science at the University of Alabama, to dive into the latest research revealing recent trends that impact your campaign. Discover the answers to these important questions:

  • The impact of internet activism on past elections
  • What actions voters take online, and how best to reach them
  • How to use social media to reach young voters
  • How social media can work in conjunction with your ground game

Does Direct Mail Still Matter for Your Campaign?

Even in the digital age, the most influential form of campaigning in the American conservative movement is direct mail. As with any form of campaigning, however, it costs money, and direct mail is one of the most expensive campaign costs.

What you might find surprising is that, while technology is critical, direct mail is often the largest source for campaign fundraising.

After Barry Goldwater lost to Lyndon Johnson in 1964, Richard Viguerie went to the county clerk’s office and received a list of the individuals that gave $50 or more to Goldwater’s campaign. He then wrote to those people, asking them to contribute to conservative causes. Thanks to this effort, the National Rifle Association, The Conservative Caucus, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Human Events, and several dozen others were founded.

Studies show that for every 200 pieces of nonpartisan, issue-based mail, you will see an additional one voter turnout in the election, yet partisan or party affiliated mail don’t turn out a single extra voter.

Studies have also shown that if you list the voting records of significant others or even neighbors, then voter turnout will be even higher due to the fact that it uses social pressure to turn out votes.

While partisan mailings with negative messaging drive down voter turnout rates, you can use positive mailings to your advantage. For example,  you can release mailings stating your positions in a positive light  before your opponent does so in a negative one.

The effectiveness of a direct mail campaign can be directly related to just how accurate their mailing list is. Chances are that your information will be sold to other conservative, like-minded organizations hoping that you will donate to them. While it has been proven that direct mailings might not have an effect on turning out voters, it can help persuade undecided voters.

Download the Voter Gravity report here by Dr. George Hawley, assistant professor of political science at the University of Alabama, to dive into the latest research revealing recent trends that impact your campaign. Discover the answers to these important questions:

  • The impact of direct mail on vote choice
  • The responses to partisan and nonpartisan direct mail
  • How direct mail succeeds when using social pressure
  • Why some campaigns rely on direct mail more than others
  • How to maximize the effectiveness of a direct mail campaign