Tag Archives for Voter Contact

Campaign Hack: Creating a Better Target Audience

The Voter Gravity platform prides itself in a user-friendly interface and navigation. The newest adjustments to the look and feel only further emphasize our efforts to continually improve the system based on feedback and the needs of users. That said, here’s a quick insider’s campaign hack you may not have realized was available to make your list preparations even easier.

Campaign Hack: Creating a Single Umbrella Tag

While we provide many options for developing your target audience, whether for door-to-door efforts or phonebanking, it’s possible that from among selections of election histories, party affiliations, and other options you may find yourself wanting to reuse that same criteria over and over again. Rather than choosing from each individual field every time you load a new precinct to pare down which voters you wish to contact, you can eliminate those steps by developing a single umbrella tag.

Under the Voter Data menu selection choose Export List. From here, choose from the various options for building a target universe just as you normally would in other areas of the system. Remember, in this screen you don’t have to select geographic parameters if you want to encompass all voters from your account.

Voter Gravity Hack of the Month

After pressing Submit to apply those choices, you can scroll to the bottom of the page and select a tag, using Tag Filtered Voters, to label everyone. This of course requires you to first create that tag but, if you haven’t, it can easily be done under Manage in the menu sidebar and choosing System Tags.

Voter Gravity Hack of the Month

Having completed this process once, you’re set for building your walklists and phonebanking lists by now choosing this new tag as the sole defining criterion. Especially when constructing walklists, working precinct by precinct, establishing this simple model beforehand can save you a lot of time!

We hope this campaign hack will help you maximize every possible moment during your voter contact efforts. If you have any questions or requests for future tips and hacks, please email support@votergravity.com.

Fiorina Leads in NH in Post-CNN Debate Poll

All the talking heads were talking about Carly Fiorina’s debate performance, but were the voters of New Hampshire impressed as well?

Yes, they were.

In Voter Gravity’s latest presidential flash poll through touchtone phone responses, we surveyed 2,839 New Hampshire Republican Primary Voters the day after the CNN Debate, and they put Carly Fiorina in the top spot at 22%. Continue reading →

Field Staffers: The Best Way to Save Time in 2014

Imagine you are walking away from a door after an unusually productive conversation with a voter. You’re glad to finally get some door-to-door campaigning done after waiting for over a week to get these printed walk books returned to you. Now that you have them, you’re hitting the streets again.

But you glance down to fill in the bubble for the last house on your scan sheet, you suddenly realize the bubble is already marked and you have been entering the wrong data for the wrong houses for quite a while.

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5 Ways to Keep Your Campaign Volunteers Motivated

In my last post, I gave you 14 suggestions for where to find volunteers. The volunteer process, however, is not only about who you can get, but also how you can successfully engage, manage, and propel dozens of volunteers at a time. Once you accumulate a team of enthusiastic volunteers, here are a few pointers on how to keep them enthusiastic and committed:

1) Make your issues clear so that your volunteers know what they’re supporting and can accurately pass along your main ideas to others. Just because people have volunteered for your campaign does not necessarily mean that they know the ins and outs of why you’re running and what you stand for. They could be there for any number of reasons – anything from a recommendation by a friend, to simply a supporter of the party ticket you’re running on. It’s your job to make sure that your volunteers are informed and their questions answered. 

2) Be kind. Most of these people will be working for little to no pay. They are (often) excited to actively support something they believe in, and will be driven by that excitement. Don’t ruin this by being rude. A little gratitude, a little show of friendliness despite your busy agenda will go a long way with volunteers. 

Take time to learn their names and recognize the work they accomplish. Note: how you treat your volunteers will inevitably get out into the community. The way in which you establish relationships now will reflect how you will govern once in office.

3) Show leadership. When I say be kind I do not mean be a pushover. People are following you and looking to you for direction so make sure you give them something to look up to. Your strength, conviction and character will stand out to your volunteers.

4) Give the volunteers a safe, clean, calm environment in which to work. Chances are campaign volunteers will be fielding calls, going door-to-door, calling people who may or may not be welcoming. It is your job to provide a place where your volunteers can come for answers to give to others, touch base, and relax after a long day of campaigning on your behalf. It’s a small way of showing gratitude to those who are working so hard to make you successful in your campaign. 

5) Make it fun. Just because there’s a deadline and an end-goal does not mean that you’re volunteers should be treated as soldiers or as robots. Use gamification techniques: turn tasks into friendly competitions. It’s often not as much about what you do as it is about what you don’t do. If you’re not prepared, if the volunteers feel like their tasks are of no added value, if you waste your volunteers’ time, then you will guarantee that the experience will fall flat. And don’t forget the pizza parties to keep up moral! A well fed volunteer is a happy volunteer.

14 Ways to Find New Campaign Volunteers

Asking people to volunteer on your campaign can be as difficult as asking for money. Many people need an extra push in order to spend their extra time helping you. The key is to actively recruit volunteers from a variety of places in your community. Reach out and and let them know that their time is valued and needed. I’ve listed 14 places to start looking for campaign volunteers, ranging from the basic to the more creative. Good luck!

  1. Begin with family. Parents, spouses, and your kids can be excellent sources of encouragement and help. Don’t hesitate to look to them – not just for advice and encouragement, but also for time. 

2) Friends. Just like anything, it is best to start with what (or in this case who) you know. Chances are you already have their support and encouragement. Friends are often motivated to help campaign simply because they like you. They’ll volunteer time and energy to help you make your campaign dreams come true if they know that you’ll find value in their support.
  2. Previous Volunteers. As with friends and family, this may seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised by how many things fall through the cracks if you don’t keep track of everything and everyone. People who have helped either your or your political party before are great resources since they will already know what they’re doing.
  3. College Students are another great pool of prospects to pull from. This is your chance to offer college students a chance to improve their resume and be involved with your campaign in a capacity that fits their specific needs. Find the presidents of the college party chapters, speak at their meetings, give internship credit and offer lots of free pizza. Boom.
  4. Volunteer Networks are always an option. People who are familiar with volunteering and campaigns will know what they’re doing and will probably need less training.
  5. High School Students often need to fulfill a certain amount of community service hours for their school or college applications. Working on your campaign will give them the time or credit they need, and will add more energy to your campaign.
  6. Homeschooled Students may not have the community hour requirements but there’s a good chance they’ll have more time on their hands. Or, if they spend as much time in school as public and privately schooled students, homeschooled students will have much more flexible hours. And they may bring along a sibling or two. Announce your need through local homeschool leaders, newsletters, co-ops, events, etc.
  7. Senior Citizens. Like homeschoolers, senior citizens have a lot of time on their hands, and chances are they want to feel useful and help out. Putting up flyers in senior citizen centers and making personal visits to recruit volunteers might be well worth your time. Think creatively about the jobs that they can best help you with and let them know that their time is valued and needed.
  8. Churches may also be a good place to look for volunteers since they are hubs of socializing and community. Ask pastors, youth pastors, or small group leaders how you can best get in touch with their congregations.
  9. Campaign Events. People who come to these events are already supporters or want to find out more about your platform. This is a great opportunity to gain supporters and volunteers who will donate their time to helping you win.
  10. Your Donor Database. Depending on the size of your campaign, the size of this resource may vary, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look to them for time. If they’ve already agreed to donate money to your cause, they may just be willing to donate time as well.
  11. Facebook. Hopefully you’ve already set up a page and are using it to get your name out there and create conversation. There are ways to create open events on your page and discover new supporters. Post pictures of your current volunteers as they work on your campaign and include a link to a form for new campaign volunteers.
  12. Local Businesses. Local coffee shops and restaurants are great places to advertise, not just for your campaign but also for volunteers. By placing notices in often-frequented places, you up your chances of reaching out to more people.
  13. Classified Ads. This last one may seem like a no-brainer, but it really shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s a simple way to get out the word and provide your information to people who may want to get involved.

How to Build Your Own Survey

Customize with Voter Gravity’s Survey Builder

The survey is a critical tool for campaigns to use when going door-to-door or phone banking. Campaigns of all sizes benefit from determining – and recording – the issues with which their voters identify most strongly.

The ability for candidates to create their own customized surveys for their unique campaigns is something we’re very excited about. Campaign staff can easily build surveys through Voter Gravity, allowing you to connect with voters and gather the data that will best serve your campaign! Check out my “how to” video on the step by step process of building a survey. 

Continue reading →

An Inside Look: Voter Gravity in 4 Minutes

New: Log in to mobile app with your email address

For those of you already taking advantage of Voter Gravity, your email address is now your username across all Voter Gravity apps and services. We’ve updated the mobile login to use the same username as the portal, so the next time you log in to voter.mobi, please remember to use your email address instead of the old username. We hope this makes remembering your login info easy!

An inside look

This week, take a step inside Voter Gravity with me. In this short clip the team titled, Creating Walk Lists, but I like to call it An Inside Look at How to Make Your Campaign More Awesome, I introduce you to the Voter Gravity portal and explain how exactly you can easily create and route user-friendly, mapped-out, optimized walk lists in five minutes. Actually, make that four minutes:

What does the Voter Gravity app actually look like? How easy is it to use? If you have questions, we want to make what we can do for you as clear as possible. View this clip and then request a demo to give you an in-depth look at how we can help your campaign complete in minutes what used to take days.

Targeting Voters with Data is a Science, but Not Rocket Science

Data is important. But unless data is used correctly, by itself it doesn’t win elections. Turning data into real, actionable insights and taking consistent, meaningful action wins elections. 

As a political candidate, targeting voters is a necessary tactic that allows you to get the most out of your voter outreach efforts. But the work doesn’t stop there.

Fine-tuning your voter contact lists is only useful if you know how to connect with that targeted audience. You won’t want to miss the chance to connect, but unless you’re intentional, you may end up doing just that. Whether you’re creating a walk list or a mailing list, making live calls or organizing local volunteers to go door-to-door, using data to determine voter history, who those voters are, and what they like, gives you insight on which voters to reach and how best to establish a connection. 

As we all know, each campaign has limited hours in a day and limited manpower. When mobilizing volunteers, understanding the best walk-lists to generate can move the vote by several percentage points. Generally, there are three broad categories into which voters fall: those who will always support your side, those who will never support your side, and those undecided. I like to call them saints, sinners, and savables. Through my experience working with grassroots activists and campaigns across the country, I’ve seen that a campaign must focus on turning savables into saints and then mobilizing the saints.

Using data to determine the right doors to knock on and people to talk to saves you valuable time. Not to mention, it makes for happy volunteers. (Knocking on the door of a staunch supporter of your opponent is never fun.) But voter history is certainly not the only factor to which you should be paying attention. Targeting a specific slice of voters allows you to bring a specific message to them. For instance:

  • Unaffiliated suburban women who are frequent voters.
  • Republican or unaffiliated voters who recently registered to vote
  • Republican, frequent voters who have not been contacted in the last three months

The 2012 Obama Campaign successfully utilized data to fine-tune voter characteristics. As Sasha Issenberg, author of The Victory Labwrites, “Obama’s analysts built statistical models to pull out other factors that distinguished voters from nonvoters. Socioeconomic factors like income and housing type played a role; those who lived in multi-tenant dwellings, for instance, were less likely to vote. But within those households Obama’s analysts found a twist. A voter living with other people who had a demonstrated history of voting was predicted as more likely to turn out herself.”

So, set your vote goal and aim to identify, persuade, and get-out-the-vote. Let analytics guide your voter-contact efforts to victory. It’s a science, but not rocket science.

Using Campaign Technology to do GOTV Right

As we enter an era of data driven politics, it’s important to know what really works and what doesn’t in regards to Get-out-the-Vote (GOTV). It is still astounding how much money was spent on robo calls and mail for GOTV in 2012. There were reports that the some campaigns were doing five robo calls a day to the same voter during the last five days of the election.

The good news in regards to where you should spend your time and money for GOTV? Alan Gerber and Donald Green have already done a study for you to let you know what works best. In their 2004 book, which has been updated, they broke down the most effective means for GOTV. (There have been even more recent updates at Yale’s research site on GOTV.) But let’s take a look at some of the techniques, with their cost and effectiveness:

Alan Gerber and Donald Green GOTV StudyNow the study notes that the * means “Cost effectiveness is not calculated for tactics that are not proven to raise turnout” and that “door-to-door canvassing is talking to targeted voter, for phone calls, talking to targeted voter.” So robo calls, emails, and direct mail have no real impact for GOTV, and it should be noted that television and radio raise turnout by less than a point. That is not even targeted GOTV. It just raises turnout generally, not necessarily among a campaign’s targeted voters.

The study came up with the $29 a vote for door-to-door by calculating $16 an hour and 6 contacts per hour. The live calls were based off $16 an hour and 16 contacts and hour. Imagine if you were able to drive down costs for doors and phones to, say, $10 an hour, and then drive up doors to 10 contacts an hour and calls to 25 contacts an hour. That’s what campaign technology like Voter Gravity can do: make volunteers more efficient and effective by targeting the right voters so that more of the right work can be done in a shorter amount of time.

Never Stop Learning: Using Campaign Technology to Test Theories in the Field

Most campaign consultants with the authority to make important decisions have decades of experience in politics. Many are very good at making these decisions, using the knowledge they’ve accumulated over all those years to create high quality strategies for winning elections.

The most valuable of these lessons are learned not from years of successful campaigning, but from years of mistakes. While there are many strategists who have fantastic ideas about properly messaging to and turning out voters, few have the empirical evidence to authoritatively confirm their beliefs.

For example, most consultants have ideas about matching the demographics of their volunteers and the voters to whom they’ll be speaking. Others have strong inklings about different groups of voters and how they’ll respond to different types of mailers (from color choices to language and messaging decisions).

Not enough of these consultants, however, have actually tested these theories in the field. Without a control group of voters with whom the “less efficient” strategies have been tested and shown to be unsuccessful, it is impossible to know for sure whether a certain strategy is best.

After the well-documented success of the 2012 Obama campaign’s use of campaign technology and A/B testing, more and more Republican efforts are beginning to utilize this technique. Despite its unquestionably rational credentials, however, the decision to dedicate a political outfit’s strategy formation to this more scientific methodology is rarely an easy one to make. There are two main reasons for this.

First, it is not often in the individual best interest (especially short-term) of a political consultant to discover that some (or even most) of his or her ideas could be wrong. For example, when a campaign identifies 5,000 supporters for a local election, and the candidate then gets 10,000 votes, the consultant will benefit from the assumption that basically every one of those 5,000 tagged supporters showed up on election day.

Looking back on the campaign with an analysis of election history data to find out which tagged supporters actually showed up on election day has the potential to teach consultants a significant amount about how to improve their turnout operations. And while even more could be learned from the utilization of A/B GOTV strategy testing in such an analysis (a technique which we highly recommend to everyone), even the simpler process of throwing supporter data up against microtargeted turnout statistics is too rarely seen in today’s Republican consulting climate.

Second, a consultant’s ability to learn new things about campaign strategy starts with a willingness to admit that he or she may have been doing things in a sub-optimal way – in many cases, for a very long time. The longer a strategist has been honing the craft, the more experience they gain. This experience often leads to greater power and responsibility, yet it also frequently serves as an obstacle to open-minded discussion when it comes to learning new things about how best to reach and turn out voters.

To ensure your campaign is utilizing the most efficient strategies possible, always be willing to let go of prior beliefs about how campaigns “should” use data. And never stop looking for new ways to experiment and improve upon everything you’ve learned so far. Discovering that your favorite strategy might not actually work as well as you thought won’t feel great at first, and you can be sure that such feedback is the best way to ensure that your campaign reaches its full potential.

Feeling like you know more about campaigning than your opposition is wonderful.

Winning is even better.