How Political Candidates Win Over Voters One Thank You Card at a Time

Thank you cards are a great way for candidates to score big points with voters, supporters, and donors.

This is a million dollar piece of old school advice that is the simplest thing a candidate can do to win the hearts of voters and their election in the process.

Sadly, most candidates don’t get around to doing this little thing and they don’t wind up winning.

Here’s a story about thank you cards that was related to me by a good friend.

It has nothing to do with politics, but has everything to do with politics.

Years ago, when I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area, a buddy of mine, who was also my roommate, met a young lady who was nice, smart, and attractive.

They started visiting with each other, meeting for lunch, having dinner, seeing movies, and hanging out with friends watching football.

Nothing too serious, they were just having light fun and really just becoming good friends.

One Saturday afternoon when the two of them had gone to a matinee and he was driving her home, she wanted him to stop at her parents’ house to pick up a jacket she had left there.

Her parents had just arrived and they had a bunch of food: steaks, and veggies, and wine.

Her dad wanted to have a barbecue and she asked my buddy if he won’t mind staying for dinner.

He did and had a great time.  Her parents were a lot of fun and the food was fantastic.

Come Monday, as my buddy sat in his cubicle at work, he reflected on the weekend.

For some reason he remembered her parents address.

He took out one of his thank you cards supplied by his company to send to clients after a meeting.

My buddy wrote a brief thank you note to her parents and dropped it in the mail.

They got the card and immediately phoned their daughter.

Evidently they really appreciated it and his friend really liked the idea that he had taken the time to thank her parents.

The young lady and my buddy never became more than just friends, and not too long after that he started dating someone else and she did as well.

What is the takeaway of this nonpolitical but very political story?

My buddy scored big time points that day.

He told me the only reason he mailed the card is because he really did appreciate the fact that they had had him over for dinner.

My guess is that the young lady and her parents knew that.

He made everyone happy by doing something that took just a few minutes and cost him about $.35 in postage (this was in the 1990’s and postage was cheaper).

He made a great impression on her and her parents. This is a good thing.

You don’t want people thinking you are an ungrateful jerk, especially if you’re running for office.

Now apply this story to your campaign.

You met with someone about their endorsement?

Send them a note thanking them for the meeting when you get back to your office.

Someone sent you a check?

Send them a thank you card the day you receive the check.

You were walking precincts or phoning voters and someone said they would vote for you?

Drop them a note thanking them for their support.

Take the opportunity to remind voters about an upcoming event or to call you if they have any further questions about the campaign.

Voters you talked to that are undecided?

DEFINITELY send these voters a short letter touching on their main concerns.

Invite all undecided voters to call you if they have further questions. And always thank them for their time.

It is amazing how many candidates I have given money to that never sent a thank you card in return.

When I have received them it has often been a month or more down the road.

Very seldom has a candidate knocked on my door and then sent me a follow up letter after our conversation thanking me for my time.

At the end of the day, you need to take the time to sit down and write them thank you cards to anyone you talked to about your campaign.

Remember, voters are people to. Voters, like everyone, love being thanked.

On a big campaign you might have staff and volunteers take care of this, although we don’t recommend completely getting away from the personal touch.

But make sure you get it done.

It is disrespectful to the voters to not do this simple task.

For a small local race you really need to write all voters you talk to a thank you card.

It can be tiring and a big hassles to write a letter to every person you run into on the campaign trail.

After a long day of campaigning, working your day job and spending time with your family it can be the last thing you want to do.

But campaigns are about discipline and hard work. They are not easy.

You develop a system, a plan, and you run that system and work that plan every single day until you win.

And don’t send a thank you email. That’s way too simple.

Besides, most voters appreciate a personal touch.

Emails go into to spam and are impersonal.

Trust me and go old school on this one and send a hand written card or signed letter.

People will notice a hand written card or a typed and signed personalized letter.  

Voters and supporters will remember it and they will remember you.

Yes, voters may think you are just kissing up to them but they will also think that you care enough to kiss up to them so they will still appreciate it.

If you have really bad hand writing then it is okay to type a note, but still sign it.

Then put a small hand written P.S. on the bottom or side to the person.

Candidate Take Aways

Send a thank you note to every person you meat on the campaign trail you will definitely win over voters and influence the outcome of Election Day.

Remember, be grateful that people gave you the time of day and are willing to bring you into your life if only for a few moments.

If you are truly grateful, the voters will pick up on it and they will be appreciative.

Have you been sending thank you notes to your voters, supporters and donors?

If not, work out a plan to incorporate this simple task into your daily campaign schedule.

Award winning political consultant Paul Arney authored this article.