A GOTV Victory, or a Get Out The Vote Victory, is all about getting YOUR VOTERS to the polls.
It is not about getting your opponents voters to the polls.
A GOTV Victory is also not about getting everyone to the polls because it is the right thing to do.
Don’t get me wrong, I think every one should vote and that one of the biggest problems in American is that people don’t vote.
But campaigning for public office is about YOU winning.
And a key to this is how YOU turn out YOUR voters.
It’s NOT about getting people to NOT vote, but about making sure YOUR voters cast their ballots.
You only want to put effort into getting people to the polls that you have a reasonable expectation that they are YOUR VOTERS.
Spending your time turning out the wrong voters will kill your chances at winning on Election Day.
To win, you must know which voters you need to target for turn out.
GOTV Victory: Know Who NOT To Turn Out
First, you don’t win an Election Day victory by turning out your opponents supporters.
I know this seems obvious, but you would be surprised how many campaigns will inadvertently do this.
Some campaigns just start calling voters that they know nothing about and reminding them to vote.
Second, you also don’t win by trying to get people that are going to vote anyway to go vote.
A GOTV program that targets high propensity voters is a waste of time.
High propensity voters always vote.
If they are a supporter don’t worry about them.
Consider these folks money in the bank.
Many campaigns spend the last few days before Election Day trying to turnout high propensity voters.
Then they brag, even when they lost, about how many of their identified votes showed up and voted.
This is a very big exercise in futility.
I think it makes them feel good, like they are winning, when every voter they talk to is on their way to the polls.
Don’t fall into this trap. It could cost you your election.
GOTV Victory: The Marginal Voter
A successful GOTV victory is won by turning out less likely voters or “Marginal Voters” that your campaign has identified as supporters.
These are the voters that sometimes vote, but not always.
Marginal Voters that you have identified can be your key to success if you have enough of them.
Many times I have seen higher than expected turnout kill a supposed front runner.
In 2012 the Romney campaign for President did not think people of color would turnout and vote for Barack Obama.
The Romney campaign and the Karl Rove crowd were suffering from Group Think or something and thoroughly convinced themselves that these voters were unhappy with the President.
They were wrong, African Americans out voted whites for the first time in history and Barack Obama was elected to serve another four years as President.
Turning out Marginal Voters changes the dynamics of any race and can be part of a winning formula.
GOTV Victory: The Marginal Undecided Voter
Turning out undecided Marginal Voters is not easy but can help you win.
This is almost a Hail Mary pass, but a good quarterback can pull it off.
You must first determine if an undecided Marginal Voter is your voter by looking at demographic, geographic, and party affiliation to help make an intelligent choice here.
Look over your voter identifications. What type of voter are your finding supports you?
Polling is critical to help determine if an undecided marginal voter GOTV program is worth pursuing.
Polling the issues can give you a good idea on what motivates these voters.
If you determine that these undecided but marginal voters, if they vote, are likely to vote for you, consider adding them to your GOTV program.
Again these are voters that have not picked a side yet and vote sometimes, but not alway. They are “Undecided Marginals Voters.”
It will take a lot of resources to get Undecided Marginal Voters on your side and even more resources to get them to the polls.
Running a GOTV program to the Undecided Marginal Voters could be the winning formula for your campaign.
Remember this can be tricky. But if you got a Joe Montana campaign strategist it might just be the thing to try.
GOTV Victory: The Unidentified Marginal Voter
The Unidentified Marginal voter can help you win as well.
If you have a group of marginal voters that you have never identified, you can include these folks in your GOTV program as well.
This happens because it is really hard to reach all the voters. Maybe you started late ran out of time to identify more voters.
Be careful, you don’t know much about these voters.
If you did polling and have good cross tabs, you can likely make an intelligent decision about who they will most likely support if they vote.
Again, look at demographic, geographic, and party affiliation to determine the likely hood of their voting preferences.
Where they live and how their precincts voted in past elections should be taken into consideration.
This is another tricky move and you better know your district and its people before going this route.
The Unidentified Marginal Voter can be your secret weapon on Election Day.
Candidate Take Aways: 5 Rules for GOTV Victory
- Don’t turn out your opponents supporters.
- Don’t waste your time with voters that never vote.
- Don’t waste your time with people that are already going to vote.
- Focus on Marginal Voters that you know will support you.
- Consider turning out Undecided Marginal Voters when you have a really good reason supported by data to do so.