After the 2012 elections we spent many hours pouring over election results, rethinking strategies, and dissecting just why the other side seems to beat us even in races where our side has the better candidate.
Sure, we added quite a bit to our win record, but we are never satisfied. We win races that our competitors cannot because we are constantly striving to be better for our current and future clients.
In this period of self-reflection, like many of our friends and colleagues, we identified a lot of areas the Left has us beat. But the biggest area of improvement we identified from a campaign perspective was in our field efforts. For years the Right dominated the 72-hour GOTV (Get Out the Vote) space, but it seems we haven’t updated our strategies since early voting and now vote by mail have become available and popular. On top of that, our field efforts are rigidly impersonal at a time when marketing is becoming more and more personal. In field the Left has lapped us. Several times.
So we ignored the success we’ve had to date and completely blew up the way we approach field as a company. More of our candidates’ budgets would be spent on data collection and targeting. Our candidates and volunteers would place quality over quantity in their field efforts, whether it be knocking on doors or making phone calls, even if that meant spending an hour at a single voter’s doorstep. All of our marketing would be personalized and our outreach efforts hyper-targeted (more than we were already doing). And instead of a focus on Election Day, our focus would be on getting our supporters to vote early, by mail or in person.
We tested this new field strategy for one of our candidates in the Municipal Primaries: a slate of candidates in Palatine Township. And today we can report that this new field focus was a resounding success.
Last night we helped elect a new Supervisor, defeating a 24-year official. We took a guy in a wheelchair who has never run for office before and helped him beat a 16-year incumbent for Highway Commissioner by nearly 10% (you gotta read this guy’s story). And we helped 4 Trustee candidates navigate an 11 candidate field and come out on top by a comfortable margin.
The key was that through our efforts lining up vote by mail and early votes, we had already secured the winning margin (over 10%!) before Election Day even arrived.
In the coming months we will be expanding upon the success of our new field program with our Municipal General Election candidates and then rolling it out for all of our 2014 candidates. We are excited to share with you the resulting success stories from our future candidates!