Ask *anybody* and they’ll tell you that everybody hates negative campaigning. But hate it or not, it works. So it’ll remain part of our political campaigns no matter what people say.
A similar sentiment exists about “robocalling” – automated, recorded phone calls. But again, robocalling – when done CORRECTLY – works, and is often the only mass communication option many smaller campaigns can afford. So like it or not, whether you think people hate them or not, your campaign needs to consider adding robocalls to your messaging mix.
Jerry Dorchuck, Chairman/CEO of Political Marketing International, Inc., has represented over 3,000 candidates since 1998. Below he shares just one case study of how robocalling helped win a low-budget, underdog local race.
Until next time. Onward and rightward…
Dr. Chuck Muth, PsD
Professor of Psephology
* * * * * * * * * * *
Automated Call Success Story: No April fool’s Joke!
by Jerry Dorchuck
Many candidates and consultants swear by using robocalls, however, some candidates have become more and more skeptical mainly due to the vast number of calls that are delivered during the last few days of a campaign and on Election Day proper.
With the total number of robocalls used during the 2010 campaign suggested being at over 100 million, I don’t see the use of robocalls fading from the political landscape in the near future.
Automated polling is being used in more and more races. One specific campaign study shows that if used properly, robocalls can be effective.
The names have been changed to protect the innocent.
The combination of working with a consultant who knows what he is doing and a candidate who will listen is a combination for a successful campaign. I had the opportunity of working with such a consultant and candidate in this political race.
One of the keys in this race was the use of current data, not only for mail, but automated polling and then targeted GOTV calls at the end of the campaign.
Again, the names have been changed to protect the innocent. Mr. Joe Smith ran two years ago and lost by 75 votes.
The two issues that were paramount in the district were the creation of conservation districts (that the incumbent spearheaded) which gave residents a say as to what was done as far as development and the repair and rebuilding of streets.
We decided to conduct an automated survey to have a better understanding of what voters thought of the issues. With a low budget campaign, as some city council races are, we had to make sure that everything we did was right on target.
We surveyed almost 8,000 voters in the district. The survey results told us that out of almost 1,200 voters who participated in the automated survey, over 27% supported the creation of these conservation districts, compared with around 13% who opposed it and a whopping 60% who had no opinion at all.
The incumbent spearheaded the conservation district concept and we were worried that the incumbent might do something at the end of the campaign that we would not have time to answer. The automated survey was the most cost effective way to find out what the voters were really thinking.
The survey also told us that over 61% of the voters wanted the city to devote all available resources to repair and rebuild the streets, surprisingly over 26% said no and 13% had no opinion.
The survey also gave us some helpful information as far as how Mr. Smith was doing. The incumbent was at 21%, Mr. Smith was at 19% and the 60% were undecided.
With this information we went to work, cross referencing which voter supported Mr. Smith who also supported or opposed the conservation districts – as well as the repair and rebuilding of the streets – and put a plan in place for GOTV efforts. There is no sense in calling a person asking them to vote for you if you already know they are supporting you opponent! So, we didn’t!
We also knew that turnout was going to be the key as it is in any election. Based on prior turnout in 2009, we knew that the turnout in 2011 would be small.
We identified our supporters, as well as those who supported the incumbent. This was one race that we didn’t want a large voter turnout, as the registration numbers were against us. Since we had identified our supporters we targeted them with a specific GOTV messages not only from the candidate, but local voters based on various demographics and issues.
Mr. Smith won this time by 160 votes, (53% to 47%).
Jerry Dorchuck, Chairman/CEO of Political Marketing International, Inc., has represented over 3,000 candidates since 1998. He can be reached at 850-482-5079 or 215-370-5509. His website can be found at www.RoboCalls.com. PMI, Inc., has its headquarters in Marianna, FL.