Why Voter Identification is Essential to Winning a Political Campaign

As Election Day comes closer, your campaign activities will switch from those of persuasion to those of GOTV – Getting Out The Vote. Many candidates make a huge mistake trying to get all voters to cast a ballot. They’re actually helping remind their opponents to vote. It’s why voter identification is so important to a winning campaign.

From the moment you announce your intent to seek public office you need to be doing two things.  First, you’ll be telling a winning story that resonates with the voters. Second, you need to be identifying where the voters stand when it comes to you.

The purpose of your story and all of your voter contact activities need to be about these two things.  That’s how candidates win elections. If you’re concentrating on something else, you are working against your own electoral chances.

You, your campaign team, and your volunteers need to put a great emphasis on voter identification.

When you’re walking precincts, making phone calls, responding to emails, or engaging on Facebook, each voter talked to needs to be asked if they can be counted on to support you.

If the answer is yes ask them if you can publicly use their name as an endorsement and if you can put a sign in their yard. Yard signs and local endorsements provide a type of social proof that can persuade the neighbors of your supporters to also vote for you.

More importantly, a person who lets you use their name in the campaign or proudly displays your sign in their yard isn’t going anywhere. They are in your column and you can count them as a strong supporter. The secondary commitment of signing an endorsement card or taking a sign demonstrates this.

Voters who don’t endorse or agree to take a yard sign should be identified as supporters, but don’t consider them solid.

While they are likely to vote for you, it won’t take much for them to switch on you. Treat them as undecided voters and continue to persuade them with your winning story.

Any voters who say they are voting for another candidate or tell you they are not interested should be identified as opposed to your candidacy.

There’s no reason to waste your time, energy, or money attempting to convert you to their side.Trust me, you’re not going to flip them.

They’ve got their candidate and will stand pat even if your opponent is caught with a live boy, dead girl, small domestic animal or in a bathroom stall tapping their loafer.

You might be tempted to try and persuade a person who is not interested in talking to you that they should vote for you. You might think they are open to your pitch. Nope They’re not.

If they were open to voting for you they would have said so. Instead they told you they weren’t interested. The translation of that phrase is, “I don’t want to be rude to you, but I’m voting for someone else.”

Once you have identified a voter as opposed, take them off your voter contact lists. Don’t knock on their door, call them, blast email them, or mail them ever again.

Avoid contact with voters who are opposed to you completely. This is especially important when it’s time to get out the vote. You’ll only be reminding them to cast a ballot for your opponent if you contact them at that time.

The largest group of voters you will encounter and the ones you will spend the most time communicating with are those you identify as undecided.

Undecided voters are those who tell you “I’m not sure,” “Let me think about it,” “Maybe,” or “I’m going to do some research first.” They are open to voting for you, but they would also consider voting against you.

You need to communicate with voters identified as undecided as much as possible. Send them plenty of mail, blast emails to them several times a week, get a Facebook ad up in their news feed, call them, and come back and knock on their door time and time again.

The goal here is to persuade them that you are the candidate they should vote for. They need to know that you have the plan that will improve things in the community. You want them to come to your side. You need them to come to your side if you want to win.

Going into the last four or five days before Election Day, switch your activities from identification and persuasion to simply getting your supporters to vote.

Stop contacting undecided voters who haven’t made the decision to support you. Concentrate everything you have on making sure that your supporters have either already voted by mail, are returning their ballots now, or will be going to the polls on Election Day.

At that stage of the campaign your supporters should be your only concern. You need to make sure that every one of them votes, even if you yourself need to be their personal Uber and drive them to the polls yourself.

If you’re in a close race, that may be all it takes to make the difference of whether you win or lose.

Candidate Take-Aways

Voter identification is essential to winning an election.

Identify which voters support you and get their endorsement and signs in their yards.

Identify which voters oppose your candidacy then ignore them completely.

Identify which voters are undecided.  Work them as hard as you can to turn them to supporters.

If you do this and then put all of your resources and energy into getting your supporters to vote, you’ll be following a pattern and a plan that tends to win elections.

The candidate who can convince the most undecided voters to support them, then get their supporters to vote, is typically the candidate who winds up winning on Election Night.