It’s very easy to get in a habit of letting this advice go in one ear and out the other. Free advice, as it’s often said, is frequently worth what you pay for it.
The problem with this approach is two-fold. First, there are likely some pearls of wisdom mixed in with the less helpful advice. Second, folks can tell when you’re blowing them off and that’s hardly a way to engender stalwart support.
Instead, here’s what you should do. Listen to their advice carefully, write it down and set aside time for your team to review the list. This doesn’t need to be an involved process but I highly recommend that it be skimmed.
The reason it’s important to do this targeting is that not every house has registered votes in it and not every registered voter will cast a ballot. Once you know that, it’s easy to understand how knocking every door on a street, or even every registered voter’s door is a waste of time.
It’s possible to encourage these folks to register or turn out unlikely voters…but that’s not your top priority. The first thing your list should be to identify and persuade likely voters. These folks are the low hanging fruit. They’re GOING to vote. The only question is whether they’ll vote for your campaign.
Once you’ve done that effectively, you can turn your attention to less likely voters and unregistered citizens. I’ll be honest though, few campaigns do enough work on the likely voters that it’s worth spending voter contact time on the unlikely.
So what about wave elections? 2016 surprised many people, myself included, with the huge turnout in primary elections.
If I was to go back to that election, I wouldn’t change my voter targets, since no available information could have shown me which other doors to knock. Instead, I would have shifted more dollars into radio, TV and mail. These are less targeted means of contact but in a scenario where wave turnout is likely, they can have a positive impact on voters when targeted voter contact is impossible.
Jacqueline Isaacs is the Director of Strategy for Bellwether Communications, where she works to craft measurable, well-researched content strategies for clients to achieve their goals. She also serves as the firm’s managing partner in Nashville, TN.
She holds an MBA in Marketing from Johns Hopkins University and a BS in Government from Oral Roberts University. She has wide-ranging experience in media relations for national brands and content marketing for thought leaders.
She is the co-author of the 2017 book, Called to Freedom: Why You Can Be Christian and Libertarian, which will be available as an audiobook soon. She has written regular columns for several academic blogs, and her op-eds have been published in Fox News Online, Investor’s Business Daily, Townhall, the Austin-American Statesman, among other places.
If you do a good job of pairing why you’re running and what you will fight to accomplish with the solutions they want to see enacted, there is a good chance that they’ll be generous towards your campaign.
So how much do we ask for? Your research and needs will give you an idea, but I recommend asking at the high end of the range you’ve established. The reason is simple: The likelihood that they’ll give more than you ask for is Zero.