Your “get-out-the-vote” messaging may be one of the most essential components of your entire political campaign.
Why? Get-out-the-vote efforts not only generate greater support and gets people enthused about a campaign, but it also directly reflects your support of this important American right.
Get-out-the-vote translates to the operations your campaign carries out to ensure that voters who plan to vote for your candidate actually visit the polls on Election Day or cast an early ballot in states where that is allowed.
The key with get-out-the-vote campaigns is that they must be targeted – that is, it’s critical to ensure that you are getting your supporters, not your opponent’s, to go to the polls. At the end of the day, get-out-the-vote operations are a waste of valuable time if you are trying to move all voters to the polls, including your opponents’.
No matter what your campaign budget, or what your strategy is leading up to the election, it is crucial that every single campaign carefully plans and executes a get-out-the-vote strategy. Simply put, whether it is for the city council or for President of the United States, every campaign should implement this strategy.
Where to Begin
A campaign’s get-out-the-vote efforts should begin well in advance of Election Day. Throughout the campaign, staff and volunteers should be collecting names and information of voters in your district who plan to vote. Typically, campaigns should have their get-out-the-vote team in place about one month prior to the first votes being cast. The team should come up with a detailed plan featuring strategies it will use to reach these voters, as well as a budget for these activities.
There are a number of ways to gather names. Your campaign should always collect this information – typically name, address, phone number and email – during all of its activities, including events and fundraisers.
Your campaign should also distinguish which voters plan to vote for you during candidate door-to-door campaigning. This should include developing strategies that will send canvassers door-to-door with campaign materials to discuss the upcoming election with potential voters. This gives voters a chance to ask questions, become engaged and read over materials about the campaign. Most importantly, it can help your team members track each and every voter contact and relay information back to the campaign.
The Final Countdown
The key to get-out-the-vote efforts is communication. A campaign’s goal should be to make sure that each and every supporter who has been identified actually votes.
Depending on the campaign budget, you should start ramping up your GOTV campaign a few weeks prior to the first votes being cast. At this point, team members should be contacting each voter who has been identified as a supporter, encouraging them to go out and vote. Each supporter should be contacted on multiple occasions through multiple mediums.
There are numerous ways you can contact these supporters – a phone bank that calls each supporter to remind them to go vote; digital or hard copy literature drops and door-to-door visits; and, direct mail pieces that reinforce your message. The best option is to incorporate a wide variety of these approaches to reach each supporter multiple times.
Today, get-out-the-vote is so much more than a buzzword – it’s an essential component of victory for political candidates. And in a close election, it can mean the difference between victory and defeat.
At Lincoln Strategy Group, we help you incorporate get-out-the-vote tactics into any political campaign, large or small. From rallies and family-friend events to word-of-mouth marketing, we get creative when it comes to the grassroots efforts we take on, taking great pains to ensure that every effort is in line with your campaign’s overall messaging.