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Direct Mail: Is It Worth It?

Many campaigns will choose to have at least one direct mail effort, sometimes issue-based, sometimes non-partisan “feel good” pieces to improve the candidate’s standing in the eyes of their constituents. Regardless of why it’s released, the question needs to be asked: do they make a difference? Are they worth the time and effort needed to get them sorted and sent out? According to a paper by University of Alabama professor Dr. George Hawley, released by Voter Gravity, they can be. He writes:

Tens of billions of advertisements and solicitations are sent to Americans in the mail every single year. A substantial percentage of the population will receive more than 1,000 solicitations for charitable donations within a single year. For this reason, one might be justifiably concerned that voters may become overwhelmed by campaign material and tune everything out entirely. There is little evidence that this occurs, however. A study conducted in 2009 reached the following conclusion: while people find direct mail solicitations annoying, that annoyance does not stop them from sending donations.

Dr. Hawley explains in the course of the paper the amount of voters who can potentially be reached in comparison to other media options like TV and how using different methods of conviction can influence how effective a mailing can be. He summarizes:

Direct mail is an important element of campaigning, but it is expensive. In order to make direct mail worth the expense, it is important to be realistic about what it can do, and what can be better accomplished via other campaigning methods, such as door-to-door canvassing. Direct mail is probably not your best bet for ensuring high turnout among your voters, but it can be an effective way to raise money, and it may be an effective means of voter persuasion. However, to maximize effectiveness, direct mail campaigns should be carefully targeted.

Targeting, messages, and cost-benefit ratio are all things that must be taken into account before proceeding with a direct mail effort. Dr. Hawley further explains methods of determining this in his paper which can be found here.

Original post: www.votergravity.com.

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Crisis and the press: 4 tips for campaign operatives

A campaign staffer bursting into your office Monday morning waving a newspaper is probably one of the worst things short of losing the race a campaign manager or candidate could experience. Here are a few practical tips on how to work with the press.

1. Respond immediately to press inquiries.
Your campaign spokesperson should work closely with the media and respond to them as quickly as possible. This kind of promptness, professionalism and consideration builds trust and respect with those in news media. Being in regular contact with reporters ”” while not a guarantee ”” allows you to respond swiftly to reporters’ questions and potentially dispel any allegations that arise while on the campaign trail. If you don’t respond quickly, reporters with deadlines may go elsewhere for information or exclude your side of the story altogether.

2. Find your allies.
By interacting regularly with the media, you can identify those who will represent the facts and those who are always willing to feature you in some way, whether on a radio show or in an article. Don’t give them special treatment but make sure they know you appreciate them and their straight-shooting reputation. These kinds of reporters will be your ready microphone when you face a crisis.

3. Reporters aren’t your best friend but they’re not necessarily your enemy either.
Your natural distrust of the media is well-founded ”” not because it is guaranteed to be untrustworthy but because the media is not in it for you. Remember, if you make a mistake and commit a media blunder, don’t expect your relationships with reporters to save the story from coming out. Reporters are paid to tell the story. Building trust will help allow for important discussion during your crisis and may even help you with the story. A reporter that knows you, your campaign and your motives is less likely to throw you under the bus at the first verbal miscue ”” and might even take your side on an issue ”” but don’t rely on them to cover for your stupidity. It’s not personal; it’s reporting.

4. Stand in their shoes.
In this media game, it is crucial to consider how you appear to the media. When something you don’t like gets out to the press, don’t assume it was a deliberate attack on you or your campaign. They aren’t being sneaky. They are doing their job. You must put yourself in their shoes. If you do this, you will soon realize that the media has absolutely no reason not to publish whatever they find on you. As a matter of fact, they have every reason to publish it. Putting yourself in their position also gives you a different look at your campaign. This may provide new insight into ways you can improve your messaging or your campaign. If nothing else, it will give you a better idea as to what the media is looking for and how you can go about tipping them off to newsworthy events or opinions in the future.

(Original post: www.votergravity.org)

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Off-Year Voter Turnout Trends Since 1950

Midterm election turnouts are always significantly lower than on presidential election years. This is a natural byproduct of what voters perceive to be a less significant election, so no one is surprised by low midterm turnout.

However, this cycle, candidates and consultants alike were surprised at the very low turnout in 2014. A mere 36.4% of eligible voters actually voted.

Such a low voter turnout has not occurred since World War II. In the 1942 midterms, turnout came to 33.9% of eligible voters. One would think that the same cycle that set campaign expenditure records would also have turned out more voters. The opposite seems to be true. Record high expenditures seemed to only be able to produce a little bit of involvement.

Here is a comparison of midterm election involvement since 1950:

1950: 44%
1954: 44%
1958: 45%
1962: 48%
1966: 49%
1970: 47%
1974: 39%
1978: 39%
1982: 43%
1986: 39%
1990: 40%
1994: 42%
1998: 39%
2002: 41%
2006: 41%
2010: 42%
2014: 36%

These figures definitely demonstrate significant variance in voter turnout during midterm election cycles. However, it is fascinating to realize that just over 42 percent of eligible voters on average determine who our elected officials are.

Not only was this year’s turnout incredibly low, but turnout is just low in general. Only two people in five, roughly, make their voices heard about who will govern them. This country is truly run by a minority of its overall population.

(Reposted from votergravity.org)

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Scott Walker overcomes No. 1 liberal lie as he heads into second term

A dozen American Majority Action employees and volunteers descended on southeast Wisconsin the week before Election Day, knocking on more than 20,000 doors in an effort to get out the vote for Governor Scott Walker whose Nov. 4 win validated a truth liberals fight tooth-and-nail to suppress: that conservatives in the Badger State are not alone.

“It’s interesting when you think about the last couple months ”” if not the last couple years ”” it’s interesting the challenges we faced. You see, there was a group out of Washington ”” Washington-based special interests ”” who thought they could spend a lot of money and a lot of time in this state and somehow convince the people in this state to be against something,” Walker said during his victory speech.

Volunteers with American Majority Action, a conservative nonprofit organization dedicated to mobilizing political activists seeking to promote individual freedom and limited government, faced the Republican’s detractors, including apparently polarized residents of downtown Milwaukee and a POLITICO article more frigid than Wisconsin’s six-month winters that alleges the governor was eking by against then-opponent Mary Burke ”” a propagandized political environment enough to discourage Walker’s most ardent supporters but not the governor himself.

“Well, I got to tell you, I’m an optimist. I believed all along that, if we got a positive message out that ”” in the end ”” people in this state wanted to be for something, not against something. And look what happened tonight.”

The gubernatorial election results, he said, indicate those in Wisconsin favor a trajectory of growth for their state.

“You see, the folks in Washington like this top-down approach that’s old and artificial and outdated that says the government knows best. We believe that you should build the economy from the ground up; that’s new and fresh and organic, and that’s what we’re going to do,” he said.

The barometer by which the governor will gauge the effectiveness of his message while in office is a simple one.

“In fact, those groups in Washington, they tend to measure success in government by how many people are dependent on the government; by how many people are on unemployment; by how many people are on food stamps; by how many people are Medicaid. We measure success by how many people are no longer dependent on the government.”

Knowing how many Americans resonate with such a message will go a long way as Republicans nationwide flex their newfound purchasing power.

H/T Tumblr