When folks talk about increasing voter turnout, there’s a common mistake in the way we talk about it. Specifically, there’s often a tendency to highlight the low number of voters who are actually voting, with statements like, “Turnout is low this year, so we really need your vote!”
But behavioral science shows us that this approach is actually less effective than emphasizing the number of people that actually are voting. This tactic will be most persuasive to people who only vote infrequently or occasionally.
So, how can you change your script to reflect this? If you were emphasizing low turnout, it’s simple to turn it around.
Instead of saying: “This is a very important election, but thousands of people in our district are staying home. Your vote matters now more than ever!”
You can say: “This is a very important election, and thousands of people in our district are turning out to make their voice heard. Make sure your vote is counted, too!”
This simple change of the frame can make a big difference in motivating people to vote.
If you try this trick, let us know how it works in the comments on our Tumblr.
Melissa Varga is Candidate Outreach Fellow with the Candidate Project at NOI.
PS - Wanna read the whole study? Check out ”Descriptive Social Norms and Motivation to Vote” from Alan Gerber and Todd Rogers here.
Did you find this tip helpful? Visit our Resources page to learn more about how you can run a successful grassroots campaign. For additional training and resources, sign up for NOI on Demand, a FREE online training program focused on teaching critical data, new media, field, and campaign strategies.
Irene’s running for Bell County Commissioner in Texas, and this is what she had to say about why she’s running for office:
“I told myself that there comes a time when ordinary people, we of the 99%, must either step up or shut up. So I decided to run for office. I found out that unless I stepped up to run against the incumbent who’d been in office for 18 years, he’d win by default. I wanted to have a choice in the matter, soI decided to be the choice.”
If Irene wins her race, she’ll be the first woman ever elected to that office. That’s an amazing feat, and we want to help other people like Irene stand up and run for office in their community.
That’s why we’re here to help by empowering you with the tools, resources, and training to run the best campaigns you can.
Join us for free, online trainings with NOI onDemand from now until Election Day.
Every day, we’re focusing on a different skill. From Sept 24 – Sept 28, we’ll give you tips on an early vote strategy, including vote by mail, leading door-to-door events, and an end-of-the-week wrapup with a skills training on online fundraising.
Next, you’ll learn all about voter contact the first week of October. On Monday, we’ll start with the basics of phonebanking, and go over data management, setting up volunteer teams, and how to get online supporters to take offline volunteer actions.
The last set of trainings are focused on GOTV (Get Out the Vote) – including best practices, data management and entry, setting up volunteer shifts, creating your online strategy, and how to write a minute-by-minute GOTV tick-tock.
We’ve got a lot to cover over the next 4 weeks, so we hope that you’ll join us for some or all of the sessions.
Sign up for NOI onDemand trainings for September and October.
If you’ve already been through our previous trainings, we’re excited to have you back for a new round of sessions that focus on everything from voter contact to getting out the vote.
NOI onDemand is a project of the New Organizing Institute – free, daily trainings for organizers, by organizers. We’re bringing together the top practitioners in the field to provide skill sessions on data, new media and field best practices for progressive organizers and activists.
Stories like Irene’s are why we do what we do - so make the choice, stand up, and join us for NOI onDemand trainings this fall.
Volunteering on campaigns usually goes one of two ways. Volunteers can feel valued and supported, and eagerly return to help again. Or, they may feel like cogs in a wheel or not appreciated, in which case they’re probably not coming back. One easy way to make sure volunteers want to keep helping is simple: listen to them. Here are a few suggestions:
Ask questions. When someone first comes in, ask why they support your candidate, what motivated them to get involved, and what some of their skills and interests are. After the shift, ask what they enjoyed, and what improvements they can suggest. This helps you build a meaningful relationship with volunteers, and get valuable information on how they can best help you.
Respond to what your volunteers are saying. Not everyone wants to phonebank or canvass. If you can, find people a position they enjoy, like data entry, greeting people at the campaign office, or putting together walk packets for the canvassing shifts.
Encourage your volunteers to share their experiences. After a productive phonebanking or canvassing shift, encourage folks to share stories from voters they met, the best line they used at the door, or a story about a new friend they made on the canvassing trip. Giving people a chance to share their experiences can boost morale, highlight good tactics, and gives you a chance to hear important feedback about what your volunteers are hearing on the ground.
You might be wondering what a sandwich has to do with voter contact. No, I’m not talking about the kind of sandwich that you provide for volunteers during those long days of canvassing and phone banking. In the field, sandwich is a term used for maximizing the effectiveness of your voter contact strategy.
The idea is that you sandwich your most important contact in between two others. The first contact initiates the conversation, the second contact makes the sale, and the third contact reinforces (and maybe provides you with important information). For example, if you’re trying to identify and persuade undecided voters, here’s what a “contact sandwich” might look like:
You can use the sandwich strategy in multiple ways. Maybe you sandwich an important mail piece with robo-calls. Or maybe you call to let people know their absentee ballot is about to arrive, knock the door to see if they’ve filled it out, and follow up to make sure it got in the mail.
And, of course, don’t forget to feed your volunteers too. They’ll appreciate a real sandwich after a long shift at the doors or on the phones.
Tim Anderegg is Lead Web Developer at NOI, and has worked in data and field for a number of years, most recently at the Center for Community Change, advising issue advocacy and community organizations on data, targeting and reporting.
I hear a lot of questions from organizers and candidates who are fighting for progressive change in rural areas. The most common of those questions goes something like this: “How do I create a message that resonates with rural voters?”
Whether you’re working in the bluest of blue cities, a deep purple suburb, or a flame-red ranching community, my answer is the same: create a message that’s built on values, not policy. Policy is important, but it has to come second. First, you have to convince people that you’re LIKE them, and that you share their same values. Here are a few of the big picture hows and whys for that, with a focus on why it’s powerful in rural or “conservative” areas.
Your ten point plan for fixing the local schools or investing in roads is important, but if you can’t connect those policies to values, you won’t connect at all.
Got a good trick for connecting progressive values in conservative communities? Share in the comments on our blog!
Evan Sutton is Communications Director at NOI.
There are a lot of specific direct asks that candidates need to make in the course of a successful campaign:
Mustering up the courage to make these direct asks can be difficult, but the hard part isn’t over once the words are out of your mouth. After you’ve made the ask, it’s important to be silent for a moment so that the potential voter, volunteer, or donor can think about your request and give you an answer.
If you find that you have difficulty staying silent after you’ve made the ask when you’re in a one on one meeting, or doing call time from an office, here’s a trick that should help: after you make the ask, take a sip of water. This forces a moment of silence on your end so that the person you’re speaking with can actually process and respond to your request.
After you’ve used the sip of water tactic for a while, you’ll hopefully find that you’re able to pause after asking, even when there’s no beverage to be found.
Sarah Baker is the Digital Director for the Candidate Project at NOI.
Have you ever heard of an elevator pitch? It’s basically the idea that if you ran into someone on an elevator who had the potential to hire you, and you had 3 minutes to sell yourself, you could. It’s a pretty great way to boil down your resume and talking points to three minutes. Sounds effective, right? Well, you can apply the same principle to organizing and campaigns.
One of the most important skills an organizer needs is the power of persuasion. You have a million things to do, and not enough time to do them all. How do you convince someone not only to join your campaign, but to help you with reaching goals and winning?
Enter the 27-9-3, the formula for becoming a effective persuader. Think of it as an entry point for a potential supporter or volunteer. If you can convince them that your cause is worth organizing for, then you’ve succeeded! Here’s a breakdown of how to craft your own 27-9-3:
Structure: You have 27 words, no more than 9 seconds and 3 points to discuss.
Figure out who your audience is. If you’re going to be doing a voter reg drive or canvassing the neighborhood, you’ll want to make sure your 27-9-3 applies to those people.
Decide on your ask. Since you don’t have much time, you’ll want to pick one thing and stick to it.
Remember that stories are what move hearts and minds, not facts. Don’t spend too much time trying to cram facts into your pitch. Appeal to emotions and values, and you’ll have success.
Lastly, don’t forget to practice! You want to make sure that your 27-9-3 pitch doesn’t sound like a boring speech or like a robocall. Get feedback from friends and remember that your 27-9-3 can change with context!
Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to persuading folks to join your campaign!
Deepa Kunapuli is Communications Manager at NOI.
Across the country, a new group of progressives are taking the next step toward becoming leaders in their communities by participating in our free Candidate Project Training Academy sessions. And there’s more to come. In the next few weeks, our trainings shift their focus to the important day to day work that campaigns need to focus on as they move toward Election Day. If you haven’t joined a training yet, what are you waiting for? Sign up now!
Click here to sign up for our upcoming Training Academy sessions in a single step.
The response so far has made us even more excited for these next trainings. All of our sessions are conducted online as webinars, so you can participate no matter where you are. We hope you’ll join us soon!
P.S. Need to catch up on previous sessions? Head on over to CandidateProject.org/academy to view them all.
I’m not sure if you heard, but it’s Fundraising Week here at the Candidate Project! We’ve lined up expert campaign fundraising trainers to teach candidates & campaign team members everything you need to know to get donations to fuel your campaign. And, as always, the trainings are free of charge.
Sign up now and make sure your campaign is ready to raise money from day one:
Sign up for “Fundraising, Budgeting & Reporting” – Tuesday, March 13 @ 8:15pm Eastern (5:15pm Pacific)
Sign up for “Fundraising Tactics” – Thursday, March 15 @ 8:15pm Eastern (5:15pm Pacific)
After you sign up for the trainings, help us spread the word to other progressive campaigns by sharing this on Facebook and Twitter too. Thanks!
Register here: http://candidateproject.org/ChoosingToRun
If you are running for local office, or even just considering it, you don’t want to miss this. Sign up now before the February 28th session fills up.
This is just the first in a series of weekly online trainings we’ll be doing in conjunction with the folks at Democracy for America.