“So smartass, you talk a good game, but what would be your plan to increase conservative turnout?”
Don’t you just love THAT friend after a beer?
I have in a roundabout way attempted to push/propose a plan that I think will increase conservative turnout. To date, I have not gained any traction from the powers that be with my little plan.
Therefore, in response to my one-beer-fortified-by-liquid-courage friend, I am deciding to “open source” my plan, invite criticism and refinement.
Here it goes:
Alex’s plan to increase turnout using science
Define the problem: Turnout for races differs dramatically from Presidential years (75%-80%), to Gubernatorial years (50%) to Municipal elections (20%-25%). Even though Republican turnout generally exceeds Democratic turnout as a percentage of Party registration, we can do better.
The Goal: To build a system to identify and activate Republican and/or conservative voters to the polls who traditionally have not voted in gubernatorial / municipal elections.
We will increase turnout for conservative voters by 5% – enough to be a decisive factor in local elections.
In the end a system will be built that will codified sot hat it can be improved over time.
The Proposal: We can easily identify voters who vote in national elections (so they will vote) but don’t vote in state or municipal elections. We can assume these voters will be at least a little easier to activate than some voter who have never voted in the history of their existence.
The Party creates a unifying campaign around increasing turnout among these voters using science to drive the results.
For Example, we can brand it “Take the Pledge”.
If we like, we can set up control groups and test my proposal. I bet you a cup of coffee, it works.
[EDIT #1: I did a horrible job explaining this part. What I meant by creating a unifying campaign is that we would read in all natural stakeholders to the plan: party, tea parties, churches, civic organizations. We would explain the science behind what we are doing, the goals, and then ask them to buy into the plan by asking like minded people to join their organization in taking the Pledge. Thank to an astute reader for taking me to task on my glossing over this very important point.]
Step 1: The Invitation
Using social pressure, we send a direct mail piece to every single Republican, Independent, and Democratic Voter indentified as voting in at least one of the following elections: Presidential 2012, Presidential Preference Primary 2012, or Governor 2010 BUT have not voted in a municipal election.
The mail piece would say something to the effect of “Our voting data identifies you as an active citizen who cares about what happens in our community” (social pressure). We would also then list the elections they voted and thanking them. Finally, we would extend to them an invitation to “Take the Pledge to restore sanity to local/state government by changing the status quo/or sticking up for conservative government by voting in the city/ gubernatorial election of DATE.” You get the idea – tailor the message to the election and offer a message the will only activate conservative voters.
People who receive the piece but do not agree will self select out of taking the pledge.
We would then make it as easy as possible to take the pledge:
1) Return the enclosed card with your signature.
2) Call the Take the Pledge Hotline 800 number or local number.
3) Visit the website “Take the pledge” and sign up.
Man the phone banks. 3 days after the mail piece is sent, volunteers call all recipients of the mail piece. If we lack in volunteers, we can send the mail piece in batches to stagger receipt.
Here is the script:
“Hi, this is Alex Patton calling from Take the Pledge. As you may know from our mail piece, your voting history identifies you as someone who cares deeply about improving our community and will vote to have your voice heard. We are asking people to take the pledge to restore sanity to local government by voting in the upcoming city election, can we put you down as taking the pledge?”
No? Thank you for your time.
Yes? Great, I will let the committee know. Is there anyone else in your home that will join us in taking the pledge?
Step 3: Cementing the Pledge & Database Work
For all yeses:
- Send a 3×5 postcard thanking them for taking pledge.
- Mark in database as taking the pledge. (mark nos also)
- Put name of pledge taker on website. (social proof)
Step 4: Reminder / Absentee Driver
After the holidays, we call every pledge taker thanking them again for their pledge. We ask them if it would be easier for them to honor their pledge, if they were to be sent an absentee ballot.
If yes, we send them an absentee ballot request with very simple instructions on how to request a ballot.
We track these voters to track a conversion rate to see how many of them follow through.
Those that do are placed into the party’s absentee program.
If no, we thank them again for taking the pledge.
Mark absentee voters in a database
Step 5: Activation
The three weeks before the election, all efforts are concentrated on Pledge Takers.
Step 5a: Mail Piece reminding voters of their pledge. This piece contains each voters polling place, hours of operation, and rules of voting. Plus offers a hotline for any voting questions. All information is also available on the website.
Step 5b: We man the phone banks and call all pledge takers gently reminding them of their pledge by thanking them. We then make it as easy as possible for these people to vote. If they have received an absentee ballot we make sure they understand how and when to return the ballot. If they choose to vote at the poll, all volunteers have the voters’ specific polling place and we communicate the location, the date, and the hours of polling.
We close the calls by thanking them again for honoring their pledge and making a difference.
My hypothesis: We watch turnout climb.
Step 7: Analysis & refinement
We measure how many of the targeted voters turned up at the polls.
We gather all volunteers to discuss that data and put in improvements.
There it is – Alex’s simplified 7 point plan to increase turnout using the science of social pressure and relieving cognitive dissonance by allowing people to honor their pledge. Throw in a little dose of making sure that every barrier to voting is removed by provide as much information as possible (polling location, hours, rules).
If we like, we could run mini experiments in this framework. Example, one control group receives NONE of step 5, one group receives mail only, one group phone only, and a third group receives mail & phone. Measure the results.
All it takes is money and a commitment to the plan.
Now, your turn, I invite you to comment, refine, improve and/or tell me I’m crazy.