The Most Important Component of The Modern Political Campaign Strategy
We are often asked, What is the most important component of the modern political campaign?
Many will say, having an ”elect able” candidate. Many will answer successful fundraising. Many will answer GOTV or get out the vote. The reasons for these choices may be obvious.
However, we believe that the most important aspect of the modern campaign is ”targeting.” You see, any candidate can be ”elect able,” if you are able to target those who will support that specific candidate. And, every fundraising effort will be more successful if you are able to ”target” those who have been identified as supporters… even more importantly, those who have contributed to similar political campaigns in the past. As for the GOTV effort, no campaign can be successful, if you do not ”target” your support and get that support out to the polls on Election Day.
Not only are the results of targeting important, targeting is a key ingredient to successful resource management. Consider, for example, involvement in a campaign where voter interest may be low and fundraising difficult. If the general population of the district is 100,000, there are likely only 55-65,000 registered voters. This is the first level of targeting – if you don’t secure a list of registered
voters in your district, your resources will be wasted on the many thousands of individuals who are not even eligible to vote.
Targeting levels go much deeper than registration alone. If the election is a partisan one, do you really think that you can get a registered Republican to support a Democrat candidate? Resources should not be wasted on converting voters – target the registered voters of your party affiliation. What about voting history? Do you think that you can interest a voter who has not voted in the last 5 years to get out and vote for you or your candidate? Not very likely, is it? Do you expect greater support from men or women? Is there a racial component to your campaign? These aspects are all part of the makeup of the voters that you must reach out to in order to secure their support and get them to the polls on Election Day. Targeting will enable you to reduce the 100,000 residents down to the more meaningful and financially manageable number – the target group that you need to get out to the polls in order to win your election.
As for managing resources, you do the math. If you spend $30,000 on 100,000 voters, you can spend only .30 on each contact (not even a single stamp). If you identify (by analyzing voter history associated with your voter file) that the likely turnout in your election will be 38% of the 60,000 registered voters (22,800), you will be able to spend $2.60 on each of the 11,500 targeted voters that you need to support you for victory on Election Day. What is the most important component of the modern political campaign? Targeting!
The best way for an organization to target voters is to secure a qualified voter file. Many states provide a list of registered voters through the Secretary of States office and many State Parties can provide similar information. Voter lists can also be acquired from some voter data and software vendors. In addition to registration information, a qualified list will include change of address cleansing, phone numbers, voting history, ethnicity, and census information such as income, education levels, home ownership, etc.
These lists must be secured in order to determine who your campaign should contact and which voters you need to get out to vote.