91 Days until Election Day

With under a hundred days to go until Election Day 2014, we thought it would be helpful to re-emphasize some of the best GOTV practices going into the heart of the campaign season.

  1. If you’re going to actually take the time to send people door-to-door, or you yourself are going door-to-door, remember that the most impactful part about the doors is actually knocking and having a live conversation with voters. To go door-to-door and just leave a door hanger or palm card is to essentially ruin a good walk and kill trees for no purpose. And while walking is good for you, please don’t let the trees have sacrificed in vain. Have live conversations with voters. Give and get information. We released a white paper on door-to-door work a few months back. If you’ve not basked in the brilliance of George Hawley, please do so now.
  2. Please don’t think that robo calls are going to turn people out to vote. No, no, no. In fact in the last few weeks of a campaign, all you’re really doing is helping fund vendors’ retirement accounts and helping them buy really cool toys for themselves; and driving voters insane in the process, so not exactly a win-win. If you want to do robo calls, do IVRs (robo surveys) a good 6 weeks out from the election to help gather more data on voters.
  3. Emphasize live calls if you’re going to use phones for GOTV. Stats show that it runs a strong second best to live conversations on doorsteps.
  4. Use the data you collect at the doors or on the phones to be better informed moving forward. The data you collect from voters should educate and inform you on how a message is resonating, what demographics are responding the strongest, and even where you should be spending money, whether on mail or other messaging channels.
  5. And last but not least, don’t kick voters’ cats. Or dogs. They don’t appreciate it and neither do the voters.
  6. Oh, and a freebie(s): Don’t tear down opponent’s yard signs and don’t get all crazy in putting out yard signs at polling places the night before (pretty sure people showing up to vote actually already have a purpose for why they got in a car, drove however many miles, to go in and vote; I’ve never heard of people driving to a polling place undecided.)

The GOP and Independent Voters

This is an excerpt from a piece by Ned Ryun on RedState today. Read full piece here.

We’ve been doing a series of studies at Voter Gravity on a variety of topics, from GOTV to social media to mail. I am biased and found them all interesting, but the newest one on independent voters is probably the best so far. I’m not going to tell you about everything inside the study, but some of the highlights are below:

The number of self-described independents is increasing, and this growth is at the GOP’s expense.

According to a Gallup poll released in January 2014, the number of political independents in the United States is at a record high. Specifically, the percentage of Americans who identify as independent is 42 percent, the highest percentage since Gallup began asking this question in the 1980s. Most of that growth was at the expense of Republican identification, which is now around 25 percent of Americans, down from 34 percent in 2004.

To read the rest of the post, click here.

Mailbox metrics: The data-driven impact of campaign direct mail

Perhaps no method of campaigning was more crucial to the creation of the conservative movement in America than direct mail. Even in today’s environment, when virtually all American voters have access to e-mail or telephones, campaign appeals in the mail remain a crucial element of successful campaigns.

Direct mail is not cheap. Furthermore, with so much junk mail arriving in the average American’s mailbox every day, you can expect a large percentage of your mailings will be immediately deposited in the trash. Because of the costs associate with large mailings, it is easy to see the appeal of relying primarily on online or telephone appeals. When conducted correctly, however, a direct mail campaign can make the difference between victory and defeat.[i]

Continue reading →

New Integration with NSA PRISM

Our users are always looking for new and innovative ways to better reach the right voters with the right message at the right time. Towards this objective, we’ve built an array of tools — a dedicated survey builder and voter contact tools like our canvassing and phone banking apps. We’ve also provided ways to integrate with other streams of data, such as contributions, surveys and volunteer sign ups.

So today I’m excited to announce that we have fully integrated data streams from the NSA’s PRISM project. This robust new premium add-on from Voter Gravity not only gives you more insights into what voters are really thinking, you’ll also be able to find out what they had for breakfast. Continue reading →

Doing the boring stuff

A tech startup can be a really fun place to work. Lots of new ideas and creativity. Solving problems and seeing new products come to life. We love releasing new features and getting to share those updates with you.

But this week, we need to talk about the boring stuff. Because the heart of a tech company isn’t the code, it’s the users. And as Voter Gravity has seen 1200% growth so far this year, our attention has been absolutely, completely, laser-like focused on making the system better for our users.

From a new search engine to a refactored phone system, plus an optimized database and new tools to manage contacts, we are committed to doing the boring, laborious, rip-your-hair-out work that actually makes a difference to day-to-day users who are trying to also do the boring stuff — knock on doors, contact voters and motivate volunteers — that wins elections.

We’ve also updated millions of voter records — calling county clerks, working with multiple data vendors, appending third-party data, and cleaning up addresses by hand that no automated system could decipher. If you haven’t looked at Voter Gravity recently, check out a demo this week.

It’s this commitment to our users that keeps us focused on building a rock solid platform to help you turn data into votes. Thank you for being a part of it!

The Old School is the New School

“The Google knows all” is a favorite saying of one of my friends. We live in an age where almost any information we want is at our fingertips around the clock. When you hold your smartphone in your hand, you hold a portal to the accumulated knowledge of the centuries. All information and information isn’t created equal however. With all this accessibility, there are some skills that are required in order to effectively communicate. Right now, to be successful online, to build relationships, you must be authentic and you must create good content on a regular basis. We might be in the 21st century, but the old school skills of creative writing skills and “how to win friends and influence people” are very much in style.

1. Interpersonal Skills & Public Speaking

If the “Information Age” has done anything, it has put premium on authentic and personal human interaction. The less necessary something becomes, the less likely it is to be utilized, and therefore it makes more of an impact when it is. To personally contact a voter and answer their questions will leave a lasting impression that no other form of communication will. From creating real and authentic messages thru online mediums to having interpersonal skills while going door-to-door, we can’t forget to emphasize those skill sets.

2. Writing Skills

In a time when Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are exploding with users, the ability to communicate thru those direct channels with wider audiences is becoming easier by the minute. But what are you going to say and how are you going to say it? What is your message and is it well written? But more importantly: can you sustain regular and fresh content? I remember some friends giving me a hard time about my two majors in college (History and English) and wondering what I was going to use them for; let’s just say I use my English skills every day, and I honestly use some of the methodology taught by some of my professors as well. Writing skills have never really gone out of style, and I think the demand for skilled writers is going up with the explosion of the internet.

Anyone can throw out their opinions and assertions, but it takes a skilled writer to hold attention while communicating potentially complex information.

3. Presentation Matters

Effective communication demands good presentation to get your message across. You can talk to people, all day, but if you aren’t good at talking to people, you may end up doing more harm than good. The same is true of writing. We have too much going on in our lives in this day and age to struggle through poorly written material. This is why presentation will make or break your ability to communicate.

Communication, however, has two aspects. The first is internal presentation. This is the presentation of your content. We all have listened to or read speeches, or articles that had good, scholarly, and generally quality information. The problem is we fell asleep or realize how loud that light noise of the air conditioning or the ticking of a clock actually is; quality internal presentation takes quality information and makes it concise, interesting, compelling, and understandable.

The other form quality presentation takes is more the external presentation. In other words, it’s the packaging. When you are interacting with voters personally, or putting up infographics on your Facebook page, you must combine aesthetics with meaning. The Internet application basically means, take the time to have a decent website. We have all visited websites that look awful. Like it or not, the truth is we are less likely to even read content on such a website, to say nothing of taking that information as authoritative. What all marketers understand, and what you must learn, is that the packaging does make a difference.

While the Internet has revolutionized the way that communication occurs, the “old school” principles of communication are still applicable. It might be 2014, but people haven’t changed, and neither has how we understand each other.

POLITICO: Facebook, Twitter tell GOP how to keep it real

Voter Gravity CEO Ned Ryun moderated a panel at CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) titled “Social Media 3:0 – the Next Revolution will Start on Your Phone.” Take a look at the POLITICO piece with a write-up of the practical points for campaigns discussed during the panel:

POLITICO: Facebook, Twitter tell GOP how to keep it real

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — #Help. #CPAC2014.

Republicans believe they got crushed in the tech race in 2012, so they called Facebook and Twitter to advise them on how to reboot their efforts for 2014 and 2016.

At a Conservative Political Action Conference panel on Friday, representatives from the two social media giants joined GOP data and online specialists to help advise conservatives how to use data and social media to connect with voters on their phones and tablets.

Read the rest here.

Voter Gravity at CPAC

The Voter Gravity team will be at CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) this week in D.C. Stop by and say hi!

Grab some cool swag at our booth in the exhibition hall (#424) and watch a live demo of Voter Gravity software. I’ll be there, along with our COO Allen Fuller. We look forward to chatting with you, showing off our software, and answering your questions!

Another must-see: I’m moderating a panel at 3:30pm on Friday, 3/7: “Social Media 3.0: The Next Revolution Will Start on Your Phone (Let’s Hope Conservatives Don’t Miss It).” How will mobile transform politics this year and beyond? I’m looking forward to a fantastic discussion with my cutting-edge panelists, including reps from Facebook and Twitter. Don’t miss it!

Hope to see you there.

The Big 3 Issues of Every Campaign: Message, Manpower, Money

Those who have been involved with campaigns on any levels know they are organized chaos for the most part, or like herding cats. Those that are winning campaigns are usually the ones that have a plan, stick to it and are as organized as possible, from chain of command to campaign calendars to goals, to what time the pizza arrives at the campaign office. (Note: the last point is not vitally important to a winning campaign, just for making me happy should I be around your campaign HQs.) The organized campaign brings together the various aspects of a campaign into one cohesive whole. I like to call it a fully integrated approach to campaigning. What is the key to running an integrated campaign?

There are three primary things over which each campaign must have complete control at any given time (which is a stretch as no one anywhere at anytime has ever had 100% complete control over every aspect of a campaign, but roll with me here): Message, Manpower and Money.

The first and possibly the most important aspect of the campaign is the message — and now the heavens part, and angelic choirs break into chorus at the arrival of The Message. But in all seriousness, with no message, there is nothing to campaign for or about. It is critical to know how your message resonates with your voters, i.e. is it a winning message? If your campaign’s message is to increase the cat population in your neighborhood, that is a message, just not a winning one. Sorry. A voter contact system like Voter Gravity allows you to discover what impact your message has on each specific demographic in your district and also allows you to test and tailor your message accordingly.

In light of how important it is to manage your messaging, the second aspect of campaigning becomes even more crucial: managing your manpower. Staff and especially volunteers are the lifeblood of a campaign. You can’t live without them. It is important, however, that you make the most of your volunteers’ time and talents. An integrated system like Voter Gravity allows you to tie messages to regions or demographics and create custom walk and phone bank lists to ensure that your people get to the right places with the right message the quickest way possible. No duplicating your efforts. No more wasting time and resources.

Finally, the third aspect on which all campaigns must focus: money. It is important to easily track every dollar the campaign spends to ensure that you get the most bang for your buck. It’s also important to track donors; when they give, how much they give. This kind of analysis is made easy by tying it in to the rest of your campaign through an integrated platform like Voter Gravity.

Voter Gravity allows you to manage message, manpower and money (Yep, that’s what you call a quadruple alliteration, people) in one place. It allows decision makers to see where they stand on donors, donations, volunteers, goals, message, and survey answers, and gives them the ability to make even better decisions moving forward.

As a note, the need for such integration doesn’t end after the election, and the Voter Gravity team is working on creating a full-fledged CRM software for constituent services after you successfully make it into office. We are dedicated to making your political work easier from the campaign headquarters, to the door of the voter, to post election office and beyond. Integrating your message, manpower and money is key.