As I recently wrote, not all voters are equal. Some voters are more important than others because they always vote. These high propensity voters are key to winning a local election, especially if turnout is low. But there’s a subset of these valuable voters that’s especially important to win – the early voters.
The voters I’m talking about here are literally those who vote early and vote often. No I’m not encouraging voter fraud by your campaign. What I am encouraging you to do is to properly target voters based upon their vote history.
Psychologists, police officers, and social workers will all tell you this: the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. We politicos know this to be true.
If a person votes in every election, they’re likely to vote in the next election. If someone only votes in November elections when the presidential contest is on the ballot, we know to ignore them in a campaign unless the race is up the same time as the presidency.
These often and early voters we refer to as high propensity voters. You can count on them voting in your contest. You have to communicate with them because many times they will decide who wins your race.
There’s a subset of high propensity voters that are extremely important for you to be targeting with your campaign’s communications.
We call them early voters.
Early voters are high propensity voters who get their ballot in the mail, fill it out, and mail it back fast. Their votes are already in weeks before Election Day.
They aren’t affected by last minute mistakes or bombshell revelations that happen in the last days of a campaign. They made up their minds early and there’s no way to get their ballot back if they change their mind before Election Day.
Which is why these early high propensity voters are so important. Get to know as many of them by name if you can.
Many campaigns don’t really get going until about four or five weeks before Election Day. This undervalues the early voters and leaves them to their own devices and research to pick a candidate to support.
That’s not how elections are won. They’re won by taking your story directly to the voters in a compelling way that makes them your supporters.
I advise my clients to start contacting voters three to four months before Election Day. I tell them to start knocking on the doors of the high propensity voters. If they can’t reach them on the doorstep, then they should call them in the evening.
Extra emphasis should be put on reaching the early high propensity voters at this time.
If you can bring the early voters into your support column and lock them up, you’ve got a good chance of winning.
Things happen in a campaign that even the best candidates can’t control. Words come out wrong or are taken out of context by the press. A new issue rises in importance that plays to your opponents strengths. Outside special interests pour money into the race late against you.
These things shake up races and turn them into nail biters.
The best way to defend against that is to get to the early voters as early as possible. Win them to your side with your story and your platform. Bank those votes that come in 20 days or more before the polls close on Election Day.
In the worst case scenario they may help you squeak to victory. In the best case scenario, they can help you increase your winning percentage and give you a mandate for your plan to improve your community.
Either way, you’re in this to win it. Chasing the early voters for their support is a proven method that I’ve seen help candidates win again and again.