Monday, March 17, 2008

TBA2008 -- Voter Contact 101: Connecting with Voters, Part I

2:46: This session is being conducted by Kristen Crowell and Rudy López.

2:54: Kristen Crowell: The only way to win an election is to do direct voter contact. But it has to be targeted to the right audience.

Kristen Crowell

2:57: The first number to start out with is 50% + 1.

2:59: The most effective voter contact is always that which allows the candidate to reach as many voters as possible in the most personal and interactive way possible.

3:00: Targeting...Where you will find the votes you need. To find them, you have to use increasingly detailed voter lists. You never target those who always vote conservative. Priority list:
A. Swing voters who always vote (Target for persuasion No. 1)
B. Someties vote, always vote progressive (Target for persuasion No. 2)
C. Sometimes vote, swing voters (Target or GOTV)
D. Always vote, always vote progressive (Target for volunteers, money)
E. Nover vote, always vote progressive (Target for voter registration)
F. Never vote, swing voters

(This is a snapshot, these priorities could vary based on the dynamics for your particular race).

3:05: Targeting:
Geographic: Birds of a feather flock together
Demographic: Groups that tend to vote progressively -- race, gender, SES, etc.

3:07: Rudy López: Take the resources you have and use direct, personal, repetitive contact to connect with them.

Rudy López

3:10: Time is the most valuable resource, since it is the only resource that you can't get more of.

3:11: Field is the center of the Wellstone way of campaigning.

3:11: The candidate should only be doing two things -- talking to people and raising money.

3:12: Field philosophy:
Heavy emphasis on field - it is an integral part of the campaign.
Winning an election and developing leadership
Energizing your base as a winning strategy
Heavy emphasis on on volunteers

3:13: Elections are not the goal, they are a tool towards building power so that progressive change can be made.

3:14: Part of the goal isn't just winning votes, but also about building the base. Think longterm. If you start early enough, you can go into more populations that you might otherwise approach.

3:17: Volunteerism should be talking about "do this for me," it should be about the volunteers making a change and them getting something out of the deal. We find out people's interests by talking to them.

3:22: The three types of direct contact are doors, phones and mail. All of these

3:23: You also have earned media and paid media, but they aren't direct voter contact.

3:24: Voter ID program: Call the universe of voters and ask if they are with us or against us. Some people hire a company to do this or them. Research has shown that this doesn't do a lot of good. Volunteers who knock on doors or on the phone is much more effective in doing an ID program. You should do the ID in-house.

3:25: It's not really about "persuasion," it's about connecting with people.

3:28: How you identify people:
1=Strong supporter
2=Leaning toward support
4=Leaning opposed
5=Strongly opposed

3:29: You can determine the difference between a soft ID and a hard ID by having them sign a commitment card or list.

3:35: Voter contact tools
Door-to-door 10-15 doors/4-6 contacts/hr
House parties: Must be done early to have much impact.
Phones (ID 12-18/hr, persuasion, 9-15/hr): Should not be verbal mail
Mail (3-12 pieces depending on budget)
Dropping literature (35-60 doors/hr)
Robo calls: Use with your base to get them to attend events or have a familiar and respected voice on the call, although not necessarily a celebrity. These are cheap but aren't super effective.
Internet: Good web sites are important, but don't overspend on them, since they aren't likely to have a huge direct effect on turnout or persuasion.

3:36: The key to winning voters is repeated conversations with actual voters.

3:38: Voter contact should be a conversation that is give-and-take. Gauge the voters, ask questions, try to get them to give affirmative answers in the conversation.

3:40: Steps in good communications:
Introduce your self and your purpose
Identify a problem/ask an engaging question
Pose a solution that is about hope
People need to see themselves as part of the solution
This is the drive to do action -- ask them to vote, volunteer, donate, etc.

3:42: Dropping literature is ineffective unless you layer it with another form of contact. The best way to use literature is to prep your door-to-door canvass.

3:43: Mail can be very effective if done well. Use pictures, bullet points, something that is interactive and easy to use. Most people don't care and won't read long text. Pictures help. People decide what they think about a piece of mail within 3-7 seconds. Doing something different is more likely to catch people's attention. Use visuals to make point (guard dog vs. lap dog, if it looks like a duck...)

3:46: If you aren't going to do a minimum of three mail pieces, don't waste your time.

3:47: It needs to be a combination of types of contact and you should dominate one of them. López likes to dominate the door-to-door.

3:48: You need not just the voting data for an area, but also some local on-the-ground intelligence to inform the data and give you knowledge of the area.

3:49: Don't be afraid to change strategies if one isn't working.

3:51: Personalize the conversation, include the name of the neighborhood or something that shows you know what's going on.

1 comment:

Shaun said...

As I testified in the US Senate 2.27 These calls are an epidemic and are invading the privacy of All American Voters.

Our members are taking a stand and saying enough is enough at the National Political Do Not Contact Registry at

Here is a quote from a member this morning:

"I find it very frustrating... I tend to get calls at the WORST time. I have a one year old daughter, and it NEVER fails that the phone will ring when I put her down for a nap or for bed. Also my vote is PRIVATE... so who do you think you are calling with a survey to find out who I am voting for!!! Stop calling me."


Shaun Dakin
CEO and Founder