I was going to use Perdnales Electric Cooperative Director Election (District 5) Turnout Case Study in the subject line, but you probably wouldn’t have opened and let’s be honest, I don’t really blame you. But I promise it’s interesting….

I moved from Austin to Cedar Park TX back in March. In May, Reb Wayne, an Austin-based GC and all-around good guy approached me about a race he was working on. His client was running for re-election for PEC Director in District 5. The election was in June and PEC members were able to start voting online four weeks before the election… also, I was told, apparently, I was a voting member.

Why is this interesting? Well, I’ve been helping campaigns contact voters for over 20 years. I founded, and run a business that for the past 7 years has worked with campaigns of all sizes. I’ve lived in Texas for nearly 10 years, and have lots of friends and clients in Austin…. AND I HAD NO IDEA THIS ELECTION WAS HAPPENING.

So, if I didn’t even know, how many folks in District 5 of the Pedernales Electric Cooperative do you think knew about this election? Historically, if turnout is any indication, about 5 – 10%.

When I first talked to Reb about the campaign, it became clear that some combination of digital, and peer to peer texting would be the most effective way to boost his client’s name ID and increase awareness of the June election. Reb had digital covered with the Drogin Group (run by another good dude, John Drogin). He had also planned to do some email, mail, and doors as well.

We worked with Reb to develop his target universes and then appended mobiles for the P2P effort. Our team sent nearly 50,000 text messages for the campaign in the weeks leading up to the election. Some were targeted by county, and others by past voting history. We zeroed in on those that had never voted in a PEC election but seemed likely to do so if they knew more about it.

Our team responded to voters’ questions with a series of canned responses approved by the campaign. We removed the unsubscribes (and the cranky ones) and provided the data back to the campaign.

For all of the challenges with a race like this, the one huge advantage we had was that cooperative members could vote online. So engaging in a conversation with voters via peer to peer could lead to the mother of all conversions, a vote for our client.

Proud to say that we won the election, but the biggest takeaway was the large increase in turnout.

In 2016, turnout in District 5 was 10%. In 2019, it rose to 16%. That’s an increase of 56%! Additionally, turnout in District 5 was 23% higher than neighboring District 4, where P2P was not used to contact voters.

Can this huge lift in turnout be attributed exclusively to P2P? I’m not going to say that. We were part of a well run and highly integrated campaign. I will say that it was clear from the conversations we were having with voters, that they had not been aware of the election, or our candidate prior to receiving the text.

While we currently offer full-service P2P only (more info and pricing here), we plan on rolling out self-service P2P in the VoterTrove platform in early 2020. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, let us know if there are any projects you’d like to chat about. Just respond to this email or shoot me a text at 203-988-0829.

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