With another election cycle kicking off in the US and all eyes on the political turmoil in the UK, the pressure is once again on to understand the voters.
Continuity amongst campaign cycles has always been something we here at Ecanvasser were interested in - not only from a geeky data point of view but also, it just makes sense that campaigns continue to work and operate in between races. Sometimes it felt like we were on our own and sometimes campaign regulations simply don’t allow you to keep up the adequate contact with your voters for whatever reason (finance usually).
Reset to year zero
So ya, for this reason, every 3 or 4 years it looked like many campaigns were starting right back at the beginning, onboarding new team members, testing new software, raving about new trends was the norm. Of course you have your exceptions - Obama in 2012 being one major example. He capitalized on all his hard work from 2008 - building Project Narwhal. It was the height of the “data” game, so much so, it inspired politicians (and others) thereafter to invest so heavily in micro-targeting we got hit with the Cambridge Analytica type beast.
But, back to the problem at hand, many teams don’t have the luxury of a big budget campaign and will need to start from scratch for nearly every run. So, where should the focus actually lie?
Team management tools
We find comms tools the best place to start because your team and how you coordinate tasks is the core of a good political campaign.
Sometimes texting and an excel sheet are the best places to start, for others there is Slack and WhatsApp. Slack is free for up to 250 members and removes the clunkiness of emails whilst still giving you the professional feel that maybe is lost in a regular SMS message.
After getting your internal comms in order the next thing you need to check out is how you manage your voter database.
Here's a list of other communication tools.
A central database
Some campaign teams will have a voter file, maybe from a previous election cycle or else they will be able to get one from their electoral board. This will contain the names of every person eligible to vote in your constituency (basically the people you need to convince). As a software provider we always advise our users to hold onto their data file in between election cycles and build up better relationships with the people on this list.
To get the most out of this list, you will need to use a CRM system, many people are happy to use Microsoft Excel, others will want to use CRM systems like Ecanvasser, Hubspot, maybe even Salesforce. Whatever platform helps you visualize your voters better.
Our CRM system can be seen on the following video:
Voter outreach is something that we are really passionate about at Ecanvasser - this is primarily the area where you see an increase in tech apps each election cycle. New mobile apps and new ways of talking to voters are always the top of Twitter threads - we fought hard in our earlier blogs to try and convince campaign teams about how important face to face outreach is and we are happy to share that we have reached peak voter contact in 2019 with a record number of canvasses taking place in Europe alone during this year's European elections. Over the years, studies have taken place which prove that there is no replacement for a conversation on the doorstep no matter how heavily you invest in social media.
Pen and paper canvassing is slowly being replaced ( go #Paperless folks), it's now a matter of convenience and efficiency more than anything else. Affordable and user friendly apps like Ecanvasser’s Walk and Go app mean you can track every single interaction you have with a voter no matter where you are. Many US based canvassing apps such as Organizer and NGPVan are also popular among teams that simply want to count the canvasses they get done in a day while bigger campaigns who have money just make their own. Donald Trump is releasing one in the coming weeks to stay in touch with Trump die-hard supporters.
So now you may have as many as 3 pieces of technology in your arsenal, or as little as none but what’s critical for any campaign is getting your messaging correct.
The best campaigns let their voters influence what kind of messaging they push. Voters have the answers to the big question that politicians need to ask?
"How can we help?"
Understanding your voters will help you decide on a tagline - Donald Trump won praise with his MAGA tagline back in 2016 "Make America Great Again" ticked the boxes of American citizens who felt unhappy with the previous President. Tapping into emotions will usually garner your some support but research needs to be conducted to really understand what is going on with voters. Trump didn't suddenly wake up and decide people were unhappy, he and his team had done hours of studies and surveying before the US race.
This proves that voter contact and managing your voter database matter a great deal when you are running for office.