Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Before you pull the trigger - Target

Sorry to use the gun metaphor, but it popped out at me. Suppose you were on the shooting range, well suppose you're into golf, and you are about to hit the ball; you need to know where the hole is don't you? That's the target. You may use more than one shot to get there, but you are heading in the right direction.

The same is true for campaigning. You have to know where the target is, that is, those voters who are likely to vote, and likely to vote for you.

First you have to know who votes, and how frequently. Why waste ammunition (sorry, I cannot escape the gun thing) on people who rarely if ever get to the polls, or fill out a vote by mail ballot?

Election mail is costly. So is the time it takes to hand deliver your message through precinct walking. So you want to get to those voters most likely to be voting in your election.

This is called targeting. And every savvy campaigner does it. You can do it yourself by getting the complete voter list from the County registrar of voters office, and then have a techie member of your team weed out the non-voters, or infrequent voters, but in this consultant's opinion, for the few hundred dollars it costs, you are better of getting a presorted list from a vendor.

You can specify what you are looking for. say you are running in a school board race in an off-year (non-presidential) election.  You'd like a list of those voters who vote in those elections. To narrow the focus even more, look for voters who vote frequently in those elections. The list you order for walking and phone banking will come complete with the voters name, age, party, and other criteria.

In a County assessor race, we asked for the list of frequent voting homeowners (not something the voter registrar will have), and sent only to them, as the ones we deemed likely to be most interested in this particular race. The candidate saved money on postage and printing and reached his target audience more effectively than the competition.

In your school board race, you may want to narrow even further depending on budget. Maybe you send to parents of school age children. (But don't forget the grandparents). You can also see the "statement of the vote" (usually available on line through the Registrar's office) for previous elections and get an idea where people vote most frequently and target your walking there. There, vote totals are listed by precinct. Similarly, you might check the precincts where a candidate most like you did well, and target that area.

However large or small your race, targeting for likely voters will save you time and money and let you make those all important voter contacts with the people who actually vote in your election. More contacts with those voters is worth a lot more than fewer contacts with more people who may not even vote at all.