How to Win a Campaign

Ep. 10: Get Out the Vote (feat. Professor Donald Green)

Episode Summary

After a long, hard-fought campaign, you need to make sure that the voters you convinced to vote for you actually go to the polls on election day. But you need to be careful, because too much social pressure can actually cause backlash. In this episode, Joe and Martín dissect the five biggest GOTV myths and are joined by Professor Donald Green of Columbia University, who literally wrote the book on GOTV, to dive into what the research really says about how to run an effective get out the vote effort.

Episode Notes

After months of door knocking, ad buying, hand shaking, picture-taking and town hall-ing, you might be tempted to think there’s nothing else to do come election day. False! You need to run an effective get out the vote campaign! Even if you convince your whole district to vote for you, it won’t matter unless they turn out at the polls on election day. That’s why in this episode, Joe and Martín teach you just how to do that. They give you the cold, hard truth about five of the biggest GOTV myths, discuss which voters to target for GOTV, and how to leverage social pressure correctly to nudge people to the polls. Martín sits down with the leading researcher on GOTV, Professor Donald Green of Columbia University, who literally wrote the book on GOTV. Professor Green breaks down what the research tells us about effective GOTV from what percentage of text message recipients will actually go to the polls to how low-budget campaigns can best leverage their resources to win.


Get Out the Vote: How to Increase Voter Turnout by Alan S. Gerber and Donald Green

GOTV Plan: Get Out the Vote Best Practices

GOTV Resources Guide

Connect with us!

If you have campaign questions or want to learn more, reach out to us using the contact information below.

The Campaign Workshop

Twitter: @cmpwrkshp

Instagram: @TheCampaignWorkshop


Joe Fuld

Twitter: @joefuld

Instagram: @joefuld

Martín Diego Garcia

Twitter: @gmartindiego

Instagram: @gmartindiego

Presented by The Campaign Workshop

Episode Transcription

(Intro Music)

Martín Diego Garcia (00:07):

Hey friends, you're listening to How to Win a Campaign, where you'll get an insider's perspective that teaches you not only how to run, but also how to win. This is Martín Diego Garcia,

Joe Fuld (00:16):

And I'm Joe Fuld. You can find us on Twitter @CMPWRKSHP and at@thecampaignworkshop on Instagram. Welcome, and thanks for listening to episode 10 of How to Win a Campaign.

Martín Diego Garcia (00:30):

Joe, this is our last episode.

Joe Fuld (00:32):

Oh my God. He can't be the last episode. Well, it's the last episode of this season.

Martín Diego Garcia (00:37):

True. And today we're talking about really diving into really those sort of last piece of a campaign, which is GOTV, which stands for get out the vote and how to effectively move voters to the polls. It usually happens within the last couple of days or weeks of a campaign, actually it, depending on the election type of election that you have, it could be a month long with some States having a month long mail in process, but it is the idea of moving your targeted, identified supporters and ensuring that the folks who have committed to vote for you are actually turning up to the polls to cast that vote.

Joe Fuld (01:10):

Yeah. So explain what a get out the vote program looks like Martín, like give us some examples, cause you talked about it could be different in different places, depending on where you are. What is, what does GOTV mean to you?

Martín Diego Garcia (01:27):

Sure, sure, sure. GOTV is sort of, like I said, right, you have spent years months, the entirety of the campaign up until now delivering your message to voters, targeted group of audience that you are communicating with and persuading these folks to support your platform and your candidacy. And so hopefully you have gotten some of those folks to actually say yes, that they will vote for you. And so GOTV is really the last part of your campaign, where you are utilizing all of your available resources to now ensure that those humans you have convinced to vote for you are actually going to take the time to turn out to the polls on election day. And so for some States where you have just maybe early voting on election day voting that pro that process can last a couple of weeks for some States where they have all mail in ballot voting for about a month. That process may last more than a couple of weeks for places where you have instant runoff voting that can also look a little different because you're, you're identifying folks that would potentially support you and potentially be your second choice on the ballot. Instant runoff voting is a new type of voting system that some municipalities are testing across the country in which voters can go to the polls and Mark their first, second and third choice in the field. And so by eliminating the person who got the least amount of votes and redistributing those voters second choice, it is an instant runoff voting. So they don't have to have two elections, but it happens to be one election where people are allowed to vote for multiple people in a ranked order.

Joe Fuld (03:00):

Well, that's a lot Martín.

Martín Diego Garcia (03:01):

I know.

Joe Fuld (03:02):

I mean, it really is, from my perspective, like growing up in New York, it used to be that GOTV was really centered around one day and now New York is moving to early vote and in some places, instant runoff voting. Right. And so those, some of these States are changing and how they're doing it. I, my hope is for the better and making elections more accessible, I feel like the idea of certainly having early vote, certainly having no excuses absentee voting. I really love States that have frankly, a hundred percent mail in ballots. I think Oregon, Washington have those and that has been really good for those States. So, but it's got to fit the community for sure. But I like the idea of having more than one day to vote. I think it's convenient. I think it's super important.

Martín Diego Garcia (03:53):

Oh, I agree. I mean, voting is a super important sort of civic duty and to limit it to one day during the week in which people have to work, it makes it very difficult and limiting for folks. And if we are actually going to be the democracy that we want to be and have as many voices heard in our democratic process, I think the more opportunities that we can give folks to vote the better, but that also means that our campaigns need to adjust and think about what they are going to be doing for these different types of voting systems, whether that's absentee mail and ballot early voting or instant runoff voting.

Joe Fuld (04:28):

Yeah. Well, you really want to think about the elements of a good GOTV program. And that includes having a organized, like actually a real organizer. Who's running that part of the program. So if you have the resources, someone who's not the campaign manager, literally it is their job to build GOTV, really organize the lists, organize the door-knocking crews, even organize the candidate on what precincts they're going to be going to. You want to make sure that you're really set from GOTV. If you're allowed to have people standing in front of precincts and polling places that you have written down a complete and total plan and from the beginning are working to implement that GOTV plan. So super important.

Martín Diego Garcia (05:17):

Yeah. And we often tell our candidates that they should, as they're doing the budgeting process to have a separate line item specifically for their GOTV efforts. So that way yes, you have spent a majority of your money persuading folks to vote for you, but that you still have resources leftover. So in the last days and weeks of the campaign, there was still enough resources for you to turn out those actual folks that you've convinced to vote for you.

Joe Fuld (05:41):

Yeah. And the last thing that, you know, I will will say is really thinking about who is the right audience for GOTV, because you don't want to turn out everybody. I mean, sometimes you do, right. But sometimes it's really a very targeted slice of the total audience. So Martín, when you're thinking about that, what are the things that you're thinking about specifically for choosing your audience for GOTV?

Martín Diego Garcia (06:05):

Yeah. So hopefully when you were running your field program or your communications persuasion program, you were marking in your voter database where these people sort of fall on a, on a one to three or a one to five scale with one being sort of supporting you indefinitely, right. And five being completely supporting your opponent or not voting for you. And I think depending on how many supporters you have identified, you may need to continue to talk to those sort of undecided voters all the way through and up until GOTV. But if you do have enough sort of ones and twos who are supporters or lean supporters, that may be enough for you to target that list and and turn those folks out.

Joe Fuld (06:46):

Yeah, well, so now's the part where we get to debunk the five biggest myths of geo TV, which I don't know if you have favorite GOTV mess, but I'm all five of them are, are things that I've seen. Like the first I'll tell you, the biggest myth that I've heard is that GOTV automatically happens and that you don't need to have resources allocated to it, or a plan from GOTV. And I'll say that's a huge myth. You really need to be planning from day one for GOTV and really thinking about what that means for your campaign. Sometimes GOTV is really about an ongoing conversation. The second myth is that just because people are turning out, doesn't. Mean they're turning out for you. So you might work with a U.S. Senate race or a congressional race that is turning out voters and you're running for state rep, but if they don't have a reason to vote for you, they might vote for those two candidates and skip. So sometimes GOTV is making sure that the people who are turning out having a message from you about why they should vote in your race.

Martín Diego Garcia (07:57):

Yeah. One of my favorite ones is the idea of visibility and that's having people sort of waving signs and honking horns on the corners of of your, of your streets in your towns is automatically going to turn into votes. And visibility for me is often sort of the, the last thing I will spend my, my volunteers time doing when they can be going directly to people's houses or calling actual supported identified supporters to make sure that they have a plan to vote. And so a lot of candidates really love this idea of visibility, but it's often sort of the least direct way you can actually turn people out to the polls.

Joe Fuld (08:35):

Yeah. And the last thing I'll say is that, you know, GOTV is impersonal, right? That that's a myth. I think the best GOTV programs make it personal. They dig into civic duty. They may be going into the candidates, personal assessment list and they hold a house party and literally drive people to the early voting sites and make it about why it's so important for the reason that the candidate is running and why these voters are voting. So I, to me, those, I think that's the five myths.

Martín Diego Garcia (09:07):

I think that was four, but I think the last one is that GOTV fixes all the problems that the campaign didn't get to throughout this, the entirety of the campaign. And that's just not true if there was not the time and the energy and the resources put in to set up for a good GOTV program, the GOTV program, isn't going to be your sort of hail Mary at the very end of the campaign. That'll that'll fix you and score you the last vote there.

Joe Fuld (09:32):

Certainly not. So now we're lucky that we literally today's guest wrote the book on, get out the vote, professor Donald Green from Columbia University. He's a political scientist and the leading researcher or a leading researcher, but I think the leading researcher on what it takes to do good, get out the vote, he's going to walk us through what it takes, what you should be doing for GOTV, what are the mistakes to avoid? And I can't wait to listen to the interview.


Martín Diego Garcia (10:08):

Alright. And we're back. And I am joined right now with professor Donald Philip Green, who is at Columbia University as a political scientist. And his research interests are in fields of experimental scientific methods, particularly around American voting behavior. He has written four books and a ton of essays on a variety of different topics in the area and is considered one of the sort of leading voices in the area. Professor Green, thank you so much for joining us.

Donald Green (10:32):

Thank you for having me.

Martín Diego Garcia (10:34):

Of course. Very often, at least in the training space, whenever we bring up the acronym GOTV, we get a lot of funny things around what people actually think it stands for. What is the funniest thing you have heard from folks as you were talking to sort of non-political folks, when you say GOTV?

Donald Green (10:49):

Well, we know that it means get out the vote, but very often it means get on TV to political consultants who are eager to spend the campaign funds in the most profitable way for them, which is TV advertising.

Martín Diego Garcia (11:01):

Right. Absolutely, absolutely I know that in August you released the latest edition of your book, Get Out the Vote, How to Increase Voter Turnout with your coauthor Alan Gerber, what was your inspiration for writing a book about GOTV particularly and releasing a new version of it?

Donald Green (11:19):

Well, this is now our fourth edition and our work on this topic goes back to the 1990s, if you can believe it. And one of the things that we discovered quickly when writing for academic audiences is that there was quite a lot of interest in the world of campaign craft and in the kinds of things that were being tested experimentally for pointy headed ivory tower intellectuals. So we were interested in the nuances of theories and what kinds of theories would come out, looking good or bad as a result of our experimental tests, but people on the ground wanted to know, well, what could they do to actually produce votes? And so in 2004, we watched the beginning of this now four different version uh series. And it was a much smaller book in those days because there were many fewer experiments to go on. That said, we wrote it for a lay audience and tried to make it accessible and nontechnical while at the same time trying to convey what was interesting about the rigorous scientific study of, of elections and how that was different from even academic studies that had come before,

Martín Diego Garcia (12:24):

In your opinion, what are the most effective ways to increase turnout, particularly in a presidential cycle?

Donald Green (12:30):

I'd say the theme of the book and it really has remained relatively unchanged for almost 20 years, is that personal, authentic interactions tend to be the most effective. It's hard to conduct that kind of that kind of get out the vote campaign on a very large scale, but it is possible. And it is increasingly possible through technologies that make decentralized campaigning more and more possible to coordinate. So if you wanted to get your you know, your eight tier, your 18 year old kid to vote, or your brother who almost never votes having a conversation with them about the importance of the upcoming election and turning it into a social occasion, you know, take, and saying, you know, let's go grab a cup of coffee and we'll go off to vote together. Or if you're an all vote by mail state, you know, we'll bring our ballots together and we'll we'll mail them together. Those kinds of personalized tactics tend to work best what doesn't work, all that well. Well, you know, robocalls don't work all that. Well, digital ads email tends not to work very well in part because it's impersonal and distant. And and I think that people quickly catch onto the idea that even if it's coming from an organization they've heard of they're just one in a million recipients.

Martín Diego Garcia (13:49):

So in terms of relational organizing, we also hear this term called social pressure in, in groups and organizations sort of in the electoral space. When talking particularly about getting out the vote at the end of a campaign, can you speak a little bit more professor Geen about what that means and why campaigns should or shouldn't use it? 

Donald Green

Sure. Social pressure is one of those tactics. That's a little like lightening in a bottle. It's an impressive and interesting curio, but potentially dangerous and counterproductive. And so one has to be very careful about using it. What is it? Social pressure is basically rooted in the assertion of social norms. Social norms are prescriptions about what people ought to do. And many people feel an obligation to vote, even if they don't vote themselves. They know that they should feel somewhat guilty about not voting that voting is expected of them. And social pressure is a style of get out the vote campaigning that tries to either make people feel proud about voting by appealing their sense of civic duty and suggesting that whether they vote is going to be monitored by others and disclosed to others or that they should feel ashamed of not voting. And that, that an unhappy result would be communicated to others. So these kinds of tactics, which are often associated with Mark Ragnar, who was a campaign consultant in Michigan, has really taken off in, in the last say 10 years because they've been found to be the most reliable producers of votes. The problem with, with heavy handed social pressure tactics is that people often become annoyed. And there's often quite a lot of negative publicity associated with a social pressure campaign. And you know, for example, Ted Cruz experienced this, many, many people have experienced of the backlash associated with unflattering, journalistic, attention of social pressure campaigns. On the other hand, it can be a very positive thing. So for example, if you're part of a group could be a civic group, could be a church group, could be a an interest group, an environmental group, and you all take a pledge to vote. Well, social pressure is going to be the thing that produces enormous effects of your get out the vote campaign, because everybody wants a gold star next to his or her name when the voting rolls are updated. And since voting is a matter of public record whether you deserve a gold star.

Martín Diego Garcia (16:14):

Gotcha. That's super helpful. It's sort of like relational organizing is my mom calling me and being like, you better get your butt to the polls and vote today where it shows our pressure to sort of like the class is doing it, everybody's doing it. And you should do it too in order for you to sort of be part of society and part of a productive member.

Donald Green (16:29):

That's right. And your mom can basically inflict social pressure on you because she's your mom. And, and I think that, that having social pressure inflicted on you from afar is the somewhat more ominous kind of advent of recent campaign tactics. So I would say that the, the, the, the striking the right balance is to do some kind of positive spin on social pressure, either through a pledge campaign or by thanking people for voting trying to make it a matter of pride as a, as opposed to a matter of shame.

Martín Diego Garcia (17:00):

Gotcha. More of a, more of a carrot than a, than a whip. So as the, as the folks in the listeners who are thinking about running for office, thinking about helping run a campaign, as they are thinking about running an effective, get out the vote program, what questions should they be answering before, before doing so?

Donald Green (17:19):

The first thing to ask is what are your resources? Do you have a lot of friends, but not a lot of money? Do you have a lot of money, but not a lot of friends? The balance of people, power and money, power is going to say a lot about what kinds of tactics will be right for you, because in some cases you will be able to do relational organizing. In other cases you will not in some cases you'll only be able to do things at scale, but not with a high, high quality touches. And, and I think that all is, it's all gonna come down to how you got to run for office. If you came up through the ranks, you probably have met along, a long list of people on the way. And those are people who could be, you know, summoned to help your campaign in one way or another. Whereas if you are parachuting in as is the case with it's increasingly fashionable these days for people who have no prior experience in office to jump in with a lot of money, well, then, then you're going to have to run basically a money-driven campaign and hope that people follow your lead. I would say that that the, the trade-off is, of course, if you do something at a broad scale, but low quality, you're unlikely to produce large numbers of votes in any one pocket. So for example, if you do a peer to peer text messaging campaign, a one-to-one text messaging campaign, that's kind of automated. It doesn't actually involve the person's social network, our very large experiments, suggest that it produces about a third of a percentage point. So it's not very many votes. It has to be a very, very large campaign to produce a large number of votes. Um whereas an authentic friend, a friend campaign can produce quite a lot of votes, but of course it all, it's all limited by how many friends you really have. So the trade off between quantity and quality is essentially the theme of the get out the vote book. And it is arguably the most interesting feature of election because as we come up to an election, that's expected to be very high turnout. The question will really come down to who are the, what are the low turnout pockets within that high turnout electorate, and how many low-hanging, you know, voters, fruit, fruits, and voters are available. And so, for example, you might find that people who've recently moved, tend to have sagging voter registration. You could, you could register them or people who are 18, people who are, you know, in minority communities, they tend to have low registration rates, low voting rates. And so in a presi-, presidential election, that's expected to have high turnout. Those would be the people you would target for, for get out the vote activity.

Martín Diego Garcia (20:02):

I appreciate you bringing that up. I think very often campaigns organizations, particularly like larger political machines often think, right? The folks, the folks who always vote are the folks we need to communicate with. So I very rarely hear somebody sort of recommend right, thinking outside the box, realizing that those folks will be turned out in some way. And the folks who may not be getting as much sort of communication, younger voters, voters of color, right? Low propensity, low income neighborhoods, who, who may often not get those door knocks or those mailers, or those digital ads may be actually lower hanging fruit and easier to turn because nobody's talking about them.

Donald Green (20:39):

Well, that's right. I would say that it's, there's a, there's kind of a happy medium. You don't want to take people who have no signs of life, people who registered a long time ago, but have never voted because chances are they're there. They're just not there anymore. But people who come from categories of, of, you know, voters who are recently registered, but very young or recently moved, and reregistered in new location, they tend to have low turnout or people who are in communities that have historically low turnout, even when they're registered, tend to have low turnouts. So finding the people who have reasonable propensities to vote, but low in comparison to the rest of the electorate.

Martín Diego Garcia (21:21):

Right, right, right, right. Fascinating. I love geeking out about this stuff. So going back to going back to budget, I totally agree with you sort of balancing that, that idea of the resources, sort of the, the monetary money resources you have versus like the people power you have. And I often sort of throw in time. So as you're thinking about your budget, if you have more time, right, you could potentially need less people and money because you can do, you can do it over a longer period of time. But I appreciate sort of the framework in which you put that in and speaking of budget, right? For, for campaigns who may be running on sort of a shoestring budget, maybe don't have a ton of resources, how should they utilize their resources effectively, or are there particular get out the vote tactics that are less expensive, but as equally as effective as sort of the more expensive ones?

Donald Green (22:06):

Well, I would say that to the extent that people have really very, very limited resources, no, the old meet and greet politics of the 1890 still works. It, it's not going to produce a 20 point boost in your overall vote share, and sometimes get out the vote campaigns are likened to field goal units in football, but to produce a three point shift, often wins a football game and could win a, a closely contested campaign. So being out there doing old-fashioned shoe leather type politics has a number of positive benefits for candidates who don't have money. I think another, another relatively inexpensive tactic would be to have a kind of viral friend of friend, a communication strategy. The tricky thing with people who use friend to friend strategies, is that, you know, they, they, they do need to branch out beyond simply their own friends to, to actual interest groups. So if you're on the left, you know, maybe you're going to reach out to a labor union. And if you're on the right, maybe you're going to reach out to a Christian conservative organization. Making alliances with organizations is often a very inexpensive and quick way to multiply the amount of volunteer labor that one has to work for, for a campaign. Again, thinking of, of things that can be done quickly for very little money.

Martín Diego Garcia (23:24):

Gotcha. Gotcha. Totally. Makes sense. Speaking of that. So as, as candidates or volunteers, or who are focused on the campaign are going out and actually talking to folks, and we're in the last couple of days, last couple of weeks, depending on the type of election system that they're running in, have you, in your research found any particular language that is better at mobilizing voters when it comes door knocking and face to face communication like persuasive versus informative or educational?

Donald Green (23:50):

You know, I think that the it's interesting that the tests tend to be ambiguous with respect to the best language. It's clear that simply asking voters their opinions without encouraging them to do something in particular, like vote or vote for you. It doesn't work. So, so simply showing up at the door isn't enough. But what you specifically say at the door seems to, you know, it seems like there's a wide latitude of things that can be effective and that might have to do with the fact that, you know, voters are not interviewing you for, you know, an executive position. They're getting a sense of you as a person. And so much of your, your communication is nonverbal. You know, are you looking into the eye? Are you talking to them in a kind of heartfelt way? Do you seem as though you're from the community and care about the community? You know, the, the specific ideas that you have in mind might be less important so long as you're not offensive or annoying. And I think that that striking that right balance where your interview, you're introducing yourself as a sensible person, even to a person from the other party, all those things can be quite effective. I guess my, my own suggestion is, you know, think about whether as a canvasser, your main goal is mobilization on the one hand or persuasion on the other mobilization is about getting a person who is presumably going to vote for you to vote. Whereas persuasion is, is about getting somebody who's either ambivalent about you or opposed to you to vote for you. And those, those kinds of conversations are really quite different. But I think in both cases suggesting that you're, you know, you're not aligned with the forces of evil, you're a sensible articulate person and that you want them to make their voice heard, even if it means voting against you, it's really important for you, for them to participate, leaves them with a positive impression of you.

Martín Diego Garcia (25:41):

Yep. Yeah. Are there any examples you have of that?

Donald Green (25:44):

Yeah, I can think of a number of examples. Well, I can think of some negative examples too. There were some interesting experiments done by Vin Arsenault who's now Temple and Robin Kolodny also at Temple showing that when, when Democratic canvassers came to Republican households, trying to convert, pro-choice Republican women to vote for Democrats, they were markedly unsuccessful. And it may be because, you know, their style put their people who would otherwise be their allies off because they were, you know, like many activists, maybe more strident or more ideologically forceful than the people found palatable. So that's a, I think that's a, it's a warning that, you know, for campaigns that are organizing a, an army of canvassers, they've gotta be careful not to have people who are such firebrands that they can't see reasonable at the door. Conversely, I can think of instances where candidates, you know, were able to impress voters immensly by their knowledge of, of the community, their depth of, of commitment to the community. One of them is an early Corey Booker, right, who lost to Sharpe James before eventually winning and, and and, and becoming mayor and then eventually Senator. And I think that he was a kind of classic example of a person who, who used to other politics to go to fact inspired many people to canvas with him or for him and eventually prevailed.

Martín Diego Garcia (27:14):

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I mean, when we have candidates in our, in our training spaces, we often coach them right. On their sort of personal story and their personal connection to the community they're running in, why they're running sort of their motivation for running as we wrap up here, sort of what, what would you say are sort of three misconceptions about, about GOTV and, or sort of three maybe traps that that candidates either fall into or, or mistakenly do when they're running a GOTV program that our listeners should, should pay attention to?

Donald Green (27:43):

Well, I think one, one misconception, and maybe the misconceptions that inspired the book initially was this notion that if you won the election, you must've been doing things right. Not necessarily. Conversely you, you can lose an election and do things right. And I think that the difficulty of learning from experience based on wins and losses is enormous in politics because we know that it's hard to flip a district that is markedly partisan in the other direction. You could be a great candidate, but if the district in which you're running is two thirds composed of the opposite party, you know, if you were to get 45% of the vote, that would be an amazing achievement. So winning and losing is, is not going to be the, the right arbiter of whether you ran a successful campaign. Another thing is be aware of what campaign consultants recommend. Um not because campaign consultants are evil or don't care about you or your party it's that they they're running a business. And their objective typically is to run cookie cutter campaigns. They want to do the same thing in every one of the campaigns they're managing so that they can do it at scale in a way that is as profitable as possible. And so it's very difficult for them to get behind say door to door canvassing because that's not typically a profitable way to run a campaign it's profitable for a campaign consultant is to buy a lot of advertising. And one of the things that, you know, when you look back at at campaigns very often see almost no enduring effective those campaigns because those campaigns were run almost entirely on TV and once the TV ads subside there's really nothing left to that campaign. Whereas a campaign that is more people oriented, not only is arguably more effective dollar per dollar, but it also has some lasting repercussions for turnout in, in years to come in one, a little more interesting things about, about voter turnout is that it seems to be habit forming. If you can get people to vote who would not otherwise vote in this election, they're more likely to vote in the next election. Say that the last thing to worry about, you know, as you're buying things is the illusion of scale dropping a million pieces of mail, 10 million, a hundred million putting out, you know, 50 million digital touches and so on. It's very easy to be won over by the sheer scale of, of a campaign without taking a hard look at the number of votes that are produced. And I think that that's what the get out the vote book is all about. It's trying to say, well, you know, let's, let's ask how many dollars per vote we generated, or how much, how many votes per dollar we generate let's put it that way. The dollars for vote questions is more for the consultants. But the, the, the votes per dollar is really the relevant one. And so the question is, would you get more from a door to door canvasing operation, or a digital advertising operation? I think what's kind of fun now is basically, if you said what works it would, it would be the politics of the 1890s still work face to face interaction by a person who's effectively functioning like that precinct worker. It still works.

Martín Diego Garcia (30:58):

Yup. Yup. Yup. Yup. Well, this conversation has been illuminating at least for me, and I hope hopefully for the listeners as well. So thank you, Professor Green for joining us.

Donald Green (31:06):

Thank you for having me.

Martín Diego Garcia (31:08):

And for the listeners out there, if you want to find out more about Professor Green and Alan Gerber's book, Get Out the Vote: How to Increase Voter Turnout, check out the link that'll be in the description where you can also find some helpful resources to tell you a little bit more about your get out the vote program. So we will take a quick break and be back with you to wrap this up.


Martín Diego Garcia (31:32):

And again a huge thanks to professor green for joining us to talk all things GOTV. One of the biggest takeaways for me in that conversation was really the more you can personalize voter outreach, the better this idea of relational organizing, which has been around for a long time has really become a huge topic of discussion in the progressive space. And it's because it really works to increase turnout. There are a number of tools, helping folks to do this, to really encourage your networks and your people to reach out to their own personal networks, to tell their folks, to go to the polls, drop off their ballots or pledge to vote. It is really an effective way to turn folks out.

Joe Fuld (32:07):

Yeah, I mean, social pressure is at the heart of all of this Martín. We want to be liked by our peers, by our family. We want for folks to think that we are part of the community and doing our part. So efforts to make voting a social norm, tend to work in getting folks to vote.

Martín Diego Garcia (32:27):

But also remember it's really important to strike a delicate balance when you're using social pressure, because there are a couple of different forms of social pressure. There's a softer, more positive social pressure where you're really trying to invoke this civic duty or this pride in voting, or really getting people to think about themselves as a group or a community and pledging to vote together versus a heavy handed social pressure, right? Like a more negative method where you're saying we're actually monitoring your voting record or your, or whether or not you're voting. And then saying, we're coming back to check on them and comparing them maybe to their neighbors or their community. And you're really flat out shaming people for not voting.

Joe Fuld (33:01):

Right. I mean, as my mom would say, guilt is good, but there is a certain amount of guilt that can be okay, and too much guilt, you're never calling your mom again, mom, I swear I'll call you next week. But we definitely recommend being careful about using those heavy handed methods because it can backfire. While they're effective, they can lead to backlash, which will hurt your campaign. And you want to make sure that you're getting people to vote and have a positive recollection of that. As opposed to calling you being angry about the mail piece you sent them that tells them about their friends and neighbors.

Martín Diego Garcia (33:40):

Definitely. And another important takeaway, right? Is to make sure that you build out a specific, get out the vote strategy that makes sense for your resources. So in addition to balancing the social pressure piece, you also need to balance your resources of people, power, time, and money, right? Sometimes some voting tactics can be deployed on a larger scale to reach a lot of voters, but the quality of the interaction may not be as effective in increasing the turnout, right? There's a difference between hearing from your neighbor that you should go vote for Maria Martinez and being pummeled with digital ads, telling you that you should vote for Maria Martinez, right. Interaction with somebody that they already know is probably going to resonate with the voter better than just sort of being pummeled with digital ads.

Joe Fuld (34:23):

Yeah. I mean, you've got to be strategic about who you're reaching out to and what you're doing. There's a ton of folks who aren't going to hear a lot from campaigns, young people, people of color. So you want to think about ways you can make a difference in elections by doing potentially less expensive outreach to these communities. You really want to think strategically about the GOTV outreach, who are the voters you need? Who can you engage with? How do you strategically think about, get out the vote, not just the way it's always been done, but the way it will be most effective for your campaign?

Martín Diego Garcia (35:01):

And to tie this back to budgeting, right? We often tell our candidates in our, in our trainings that you want to be thinking about a separate budget for GOTV, so that when you get to the end of your election, right, that you make sure that there's some allocated resources specifically set aside to ensure that you're turning out the people that you have identified, who are supporting your campaign and hopefully will push you over the edge and make your campaign a success.

Joe Fuld (35:24):

Yeah. And GOTV is going to be customed to your election. If you're running in a primary, it's very different than GOTV during a presidential election. So you want to make sure that you're thinking through that strategy and thinking about the tactics you're using and making sure those tactics are strategically applicable, not something that you've just always done. And that's a wrap for today and for season one of how to win a campaign. Thanks so much for tuning in. It's been a blast we've really enjoyed interviewing all these folks. I know I've had a good time. Martín, have you enjoyed it?

Martín Diego Garcia (36:00):

Absolutely. And I hope you all learned as much as we did.

Joe Fuld (36:03):

Yeah. I mean, get in touch with us through email or social. If you have other ideas of content we should be doing in the future, or want more tips on building a winning campaign, stay tuned for a rumored second season on advocacy. Woo. Thanks again. This is Joe Fuld signing off,

Martín Diego Garcia (36:24):

And this is Martín Diego Garcia. Thank you for joining us for How to Win a Campaign.

Martín Diego Garcia (36:30):

How to Win a Campaign is Joe Fuld, Martín Diego Garcia, Hope Rohrbach, Daniel Lam, Heidi Job, and Elena Veatch. Music by Mike Pinto. Sound editing by Junto Media. Special thanks to the team at The Campaign Workshop. Please review like and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

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