One of the best ways you can win a local election is by walking precincts and knocking on doors. You can also increase the impact of this by sending letters both before and after you go door to door.
All things being equal in a political contest, a solid ground game can elevate your campaign into victory.
The key of your ground game is of course canvassing precincts and talking to the voters at their doors.
While this is also something volunteers can help you do, candidates serious about winning always make knocking and talking a top priority in their schedule.
However, with the numerous benefits that come with talking to the voters on their doorsteps, there’s also a major draw back.
Many voters will not be at home when you knock on their doors.
This may persuade you to skip or skimp on your precinct walking.
Don’t do it! You’ll be shooting your candidacy in the foot.
Instead, you should make your precinct walking efforts more effective by sending targeted personal letters.
Specifically you should send these letters into a precinct a few days before you walk it, and then again a few days after.
These letters will touch the very voters you may or may not get a chance to speak with at their doors.
They build name identification and demonstrate that you are actively working to earn their votes.
Here’s how they work:
Pre-walk Letters are sent to targeted voters in a voting precinct you are about to walk.
You should mail them five to seven days in advance of walking the precinct.
Use this letter to briefly introduce yourself, state what office you’re running for, and why you’re running for it.
This isn’t all that different than a typical introduction letter you might send — but there’s one exception.
In the closing of the letter or the P.S., let the voter know you will be going door to door in their neighborhood in the next few days.
Tell them you hope you’ll have a chance to visit with them when you’re on their street.
Provide your telephone number and email address should a voter wish to speak to you before you start walking their neighborhood.
It’s not any more complicated than that.
But there is one caveat.
If you send a pre-walk letter to voters, you must go and walk their precinct.
Should you send a letter saying you’re going to be walking a neighborhood, then don’t do it, the voters will know.
This will make them think you don’t keep your word, even on little things, and that will harm your chances of winning.
Post-walk letters are mailed out after you’ve walked a precinct.
Try to send these out as soon as you’ve finished walking a particular precinct.
You want your visit to be fresh in the minds of the voters, whether you talked to them in person or only left a flyer behind on the doorstep.
Unlike, pre-walk letters, there will be three kinds of post-walk letters you will send.
You’ll send one type of post-walk letter to houses where you didn’t talk to any voters, another to voters you talked to but were not ready to support you, and a third kind to voters you talked to that now support your campaign.
To the houses where there weren’t any voters home, send them a short letter re-intorducing yourself, re-state the office you’re running for, and why you’re running again.
Then tell them that you are sorry you missed them when you stopped by and knocked on their door the other day.
Provide your telephone number and email address should the voter wish to contact you at any time.
To the houses where you spoke to a voter and they did not commit to supporting you, send them a letter thanking them for their time.
Like the first post-walk letter, be sure to include your brief biography, the office you’re running for, why you’re running, and your contact information.
Even though these voters did not say they would vote for you, you want give them this kind of follow up reinforcement.
It could help win them over by the time Election Day arrives.
Finally, you’ll send a thank you letter to the voters you met with who told you they will be voting for you.
Unlike all the other letters, it is important that you personalize this letter.
You can send either a form letter where you personalize the voter’s name and add a hand written note, or you can hand write a personal note.
My recommendation is to send you a personal note.
It will cost you the same as sending a printed letter, even if it takes you a little more time to write it.
Consider the time an investment — and investment in your election victory.
Every person who agrees to vote for you, whether or not they sign an endorsement card or put one of your signs in their front yards, should get a personalized thank you note from you.
This will provide additional validation to the voter that they made the right choice by backing you.
That small gesture can turn a supporter not only into a fully committed supporter, but also into an advocate for your campaign.
When voters are promoting your candidacy and telling other voters to mark their ballots for you, you’re in a very good position to win your election.
And that’s what running for office is all about, winning your election.
Increase your chances of winning so by adding pre-walk and post-walk letters to your voter contact strategy today.