One vote could be the difference in winning or losing an election. Get out the vote is incredibly important to campaigns to ensure that voters who plan to vote for your candidate go to the polls on election day. Success hinges on this crucial operation and here we look at how it’s done best.
GOTV is now a crucial aspect of your campaign. In the last couple of weeks prior to polling day, ensure you have a list of each voter that you’ve identified as a supporter and motivate them to go out and vote for your candidate. Contacting a voter can come in many forms, it can be done through phone calls, literature drops, canvassing door to door or even direct mail, it all helps,as long as you are touching base with your public.
In the past, a common tactic used by press and politicians to get people to vote has simply been to cry low voter turnout. But research showing that these messages actually demotivate voters as people are influenced, in fact, to go along with the voter abstention.
Smart Data Analysis
From a study done by Stanford University in 2012, we can see just how powerful data insights are in modern day elections. The results were surprising. Firstly, it showed that more voters were motivated to go to to the polls when they are told turnout will be high. Secondly, voter turnout improves when they are forced to consider exactly how they will get to the polling booth. And thirdly, they were more likely to vote when it was a moral obligation, rather than just ‘something to do’.
The study showed that since the 2006 election in the US , organizations have doubled or tripled the efficiency of their GOTV budgets by including more specific messages, according to Todd Rogers, a Harvard Professor and former founding executive director of the political research organization Analyst Institute.
“Typical voter campaign telephone scripts that just encourage people to vote”, Rogers said, “end up being a total waste of time and have no impact on voting behavior. What works in such calls, instead, is getting people to form a voting plan”.
In a controlled study of GOTV calls in the 2008 Pennsylvania presidential primary , which pitted Hillary Clinton against Barack Obama, researchers discovered that differences in scripts affected turnout. Scripts that guided people to think through the logistical details of their plans for voting - such as when they intended to head to the polls, how they would get there and what they would be doing beforehand - were far more successful. These were more than twice as effective as the standard script. "This shows that cognitive planning and mechanical logistics, not just motivation, are part of the voting decision,” Rogers noted.
However, the plan-making only affected single voter household. “Voters who lived alone are less likely to have a plan than people who live in groups or families, where discussing the next day's events are a natural part of life. So the intervention has much more of an impact on those who live alone,” Rogers said.
Mobilization Techniques: The 7 P’s
As election day draws nearer and campaigns become fully immersed in GOTV mode. Each campaign struggles with the same issue, how to best allocate their remaining resources in order to turn out the largest number of targeted voters. It is no secret that Obama used behavioral science when running in ‘08 and again in ‘12. Successfully getting out the vote is largely attributed to his 7 Secret P’s.
Personal: Now it has been drilled into us at this stage but there is really nothing quite as effective as face-to-face contact. Establishing a personal relationship allows you to gauge much more from the public than simply if they are telling you if they are voting or not.
Promises and Predictions: The Obama team sought people to make a commitment by getting them to use his Pledge to Vote cards. Mail a pledge card or email the link to an online pledge form where people can publicly pledge to vote. Make it socially shareable. After voting online, bring voters to a post-voting landing page where they can pledge to spread the word and encourage others to participate.
Plans: Like we have learned from Roger’s experiment, getting people to think about the logistics of how they will get to vote encourages them to follow through.
Pressure from you : If a person feels like you will be checking up on them because they have made a pledge to you to vote, they are more inclined to do so.
Past: People like to conform to social norms specifically if it relates to actions in their own past. Get their commitment to vote by reminding them: “We know you’ve voted in the past.” or “We know you haven’t voted, but we’d really like you to.”
People Persuasion: Positive messaging encourages people to join the crowd, especially those who haven’t been active in the past.
Peer Pressure: Personal appeals from peers work best because social accountability has a huge impact – a 9% increase in one field experiment. The effect is increased when peers know whether you voted or not.
If you are interested in learning more about the importance of GOTV and canvassing, contact us here at Ecanvasser