GOTV or "Get out the vote" is an integral part of any election campaign. Throughout your campaign you should have been identifying your base, persuading your voters and then lastly turning out your voters to the polls.
In Washington State, GOTV should be easier than ever with the voter just having to turn in their ballot to a USPS mailbox or a ballot drop box. In certain elections how well you implement your GOTV plan into your campaign can determine whether you win or lose. Below are some suggestions that you should think about Day 1 of your campaign.
Vote Goals: Every candidate wants to win, but without the numbers to carry you to that finish line or a clear plan to generate those numbers, you will not succeed. The first thing your campaign should look at is the target number of votes that you need to win your campaign. This information is easily accessible on the Secretary of State elections page online. You can see how many people typically turn out for an election while being mindful of factors that might increase turnout like a presidential election, a controversial initiative on the ballot. If you are running for a partisan office be sure to look at other partisan races to determine which party has been more successful. This will give you good starting numbers but be wary, your opponent will be doing the same thing.
Identify: You should be identifying your supporters from the start. Reaching out to your state party office can be a real asset because they will have data compiled already that can help you refine your list that may be available to use. When identifying your base and preparing for GOTV, you should be thinking about two key things:
Is this person my supporter?
We always want people to utilize their voice and go out and vote, but if it’s a close race and you lose by 1 vote you will have felt differently about contacting that person that supported your opponent. Make sure when launching your GOTV plan you are reaching out to identified YOU supporters.
Does this person vote consistently?
Depending on the race and what data you compile, you may know that many people vote without fail every election. Initial contact with them is crucial to spread your candidacy, but if you are spending money on your GOTV plan such as phone calls or mailers, it is most likely unneeded and could be used for people that show some inconsistency when voting.
Persuade: Starting your campaign you will be persuading your future constituents.
“Vote for me because I…”
“My opponent wants to…”
Keep in mind that during your campaign you need to not only persuade them to vote for you but to eventually mobilize as well and GO OUT and vote for you (or drop off their ballot.) This is the hardest thing to do sometimes so be sure to establish a timeline in your campaign when that mobilization message should be integrated. This could be as simple as reminding them when the ballot drop-boxes close or where they could find a sample ballot if they are confused about what is on their ballot.
Turnout: Many elements of a GOTV Plan will increase turnout such as...
Canvassing: You should be canvassing clear until the official results are posted. Many counties provide the option to purchase “matchbacks” which let you see who has turned in their ballot. Using that data in conjunction with your identified voters you will see who has voted, who hasn’t voted and a good base of turnout.
Lit Drops/Mailers: Dropping literature and doing direct mailers is a great tool for GOTV. When doing both be sure to include important dates or times that the voter should know such as when the ballot boxes close and election day! When doing a literature drop be sure to never put it in a mailbox.
Phone calls: Calling voters is an easy, effective and often cheap way to urge constituents to go out and vote. If using robocalls be mindful of the amount going out, because too many can put off a voter in regards to your campaign. If using volunteers make sure they have clear scripts written out to maximize time.
Visibility: Being visible for your GOTV could mean multiple things. Sign waving on a busy intersection or at a sports game street corner. Having a social media page and posting to it frequently and urging people to share. There are a plethora of things you can be doing that help your GOTV program, just make sure it fits along with your budget.
GOTV is such a huge part of any successful campaign and we have just hit a small part of it, we will surely go more in-depth in future posts. Thanks for reading!