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Voter Registration, Recruitment & Encouragement

by Grace Kelly on November 16, 2012 · 1 comment

Seven out of ten new voters are Democrats!

Briefly without going into the long boring analysis, the conclusion is that the more voter registrations in any district goes up, the more that the Democratic percentage of votes also goes up. This is very demonstrably true in any district that voted more than 50% for Obama. It also seems to be true in districts that didn’t vote for Obama. The reason that I can not say for sure is that very little effort is made in previous GOP voting districts. It could be that we are not winning there because we never made a serious effort to expand and develop new DFL voters. You can expect 7 out of 10 newly registered votes are Democrats or higher. In the more DFL districts that percentage seems to be more like 9 out of 10.

Apartments and Townhouses are priority for any DFL campaign.

The winning Jim Carlson campaign took people who would not call or doorknock and sent them on voter registration drives throughout the apartments. This effort is estimated to have gained 1200 registrations, of which, we think 800 voted DFL. The organizing effort involved with apartment owners was difficult. The hours allowed to do this were frequently normal work hours. Sometimes the apartments would allow this without the candidate. Sometimes the candidate would have to be there.  
The Jim Carlson campaign did every-door knocks in all townhouse areas. Actually, I found that most candidates do this even when handed a “targeted” list.

In apartments and townhouse, only about a third of people were on the registered list. For reaching out, the key doors are the ones not on the list! About 20% would say they were registered but when questioned closely, they would admit that they moved. The moved voters were given registrations to mail that would save them a line on election day. These voters were easy to persuade because no campaigns were talking to them. The soft-sell of leaving information was used instead of a hard-ask persuasion.

Another 10% of the voters were new voters. Some had to be persuaded about the importance of voting. Some just didn’t know how to start or find the polling place. And again, these voters were easy to persuade because no campaigns were talking to them.

The registration was done for everyone although the people doing the registration were wearing DFL buttons. We find DFL buttons and shirts deter hardline GOP without even asking about party identification.

The remaining addresses were empty or occupied by green-card residents or people who never answer doors or people who never engage in community activities.

The Carlson campaign also did a every-door GOTV literature drop of every door in apartments and townhouses. The literature drop included polling location with directions. Great care was used to get the correct polling place and instructions. Instructions on registration were also included. A sample ballot was added.

The instructions that are useful have to stand out. The Carlson campaign used a lime-green insert. In my precinct, we used a big “Vote Here on Nov 6” heading. Here is a picture of a cost-effective envelope-enclosure design I particularly liked.

Note that especially in the last GOTV weeks, a good campaign is still recruiting new voters. A good GOTV lit drop includes a registration drive.

Republicans know how much the new voters count for Democrats. That is why most of their efforts goes into voter suppression. If only we understood the importance of new DFL voters as well as the Republicans do.

Voter Encouragement

The key to winning is to get Democrats excited. Excited Democrats volunteer and talk about their candidates at social events. The first people that a campaign ought to talk to are Democrats, and that contact should be ongoing. The stupidest thing that a campaign can do is never talk to strong Democrats until GOTV. That is how the 2010 Republican wave happened.

Surveying is NOT persuasion. Persuasion is persuasion. The coordinated campaign message of “Will you vote for my candidate now?” just turns everyone off. The GOTV is even worse. We have to get back to what Democrats have always done well – have friendly persuasive conversations.

For every person who has shown an inclination to mostly vote DFL, the party should send a sample ballot with all DFL endorsed candidates and DFL endorsed positions. The mailed ballot should also include the polling place. I have found that there are congressional districts out there who do not yet do this. This year’s sample ballot was better than previous sample ballots with a persuasion on the importance of voting.

The fact that Democratic voters need abundant positive encouragement is again something that I believe that Republicans already know. That is why Republicans drench races in negativity. Republicans are counting on Democrats being more impacted by negativity than Republicans. As Democrats we have to reach our committed voters with positive encouragement.  

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