We are just 35 short days left until Election Day 2016 and campaigns are about to enter the most crucial time of the election, GOTV or Get Out the Vote. During the last few weeks before election day, you don’t waste any time trying to persuade voters - at this point, the name of the game is making sure every single one of your identified supporters actually turns up to the polls and votes for you. All that matters for any campaign are the votes at the end, and the proven way to get to your win number is contacting voters in person, which can “burst turnout by a whopping 20 percent (or around 9 percentage points).” Here’s what you’ll need to do to set yourself up for a successful Get-Out-The-Vote operation.
Identify your supporters with door-to-door canvassing or phone calls
The first step towards a successful GOTV plan is to figure out who your supporters are, and the best way to do that is by either calling them up or knocking on their door to talk about the upcoming election. One effective way to do this is by obtaining the voter file for your district and using NationBuilder’s filtering tools to narrow down your universe to voters who are more likely to turn out and support you (below is an example of a basic filter for people who voted in 3/4 previous General Elections).
For organizing door-to-door canvassing, you can put this targeted universe on a map and create smaller lists based on geography (“cutting turf”). Once you have smaller lists, you are ready to print out your walk or call sheets to have a list of voters to try to ID as supporters or persuade to your side. Be sure to enter the data from your canvassing or calling within each profile or in the data entry view of a list, especially the Support Level (this is the crucial factor for GOTV). If you want to cut down on data entry time after walking or calling, consider using NationBuilder’s scannable walk sheets in conjunction with NationBuilder surveys, or check out our mobile app partners for canvassing apps using a smartphone. Having this data in your nation is essential for figuring out who to reach out to during GOTV.
Re-engage your supporters before and on Election Day to make sure they vote
Eventually, you are going to want to turn your focus from persuading and ID’ing supporters to just making sure they get to the polls on Election Day. The key concepts here are to use the data you’ve already gathered on who are supporters (1s and 2s by Supporter Level), and filter on that to obtain a very basic GOTV universe.
You are then going to do exactly what you did before; turf cut and then create walk and call lists off of that universe and then go re-engage those people. The nice thing for your volunteers is that GOTV canvassing should be really nice and quick - if you’ve identified your supporters correctly, it should be no more than your volunteers having great conversations with supporters and making sure they have the resources/info to make it to vote on Election Day. If you get through your supporter list in the first couple days, go through it again. You are going to want to contact these people up through Election Day and only remove them from your universe when you know they have cast their ballot. While it may feel odd to not try to expand your universe at this point, the key here is to maximize the number of supporters who vote, because persuasion this late in the game is unlikely to be effective (most people will have already made up their mind). If you have used the NationBuilder Voter File you can request data for early voting so that you can avoid wasting time canvassing people who had voted early and eliminate them from your GOTV universe.
Following these fundamentals of field campaigning and GOTV can make a huge impact on your vote total on election day. Follow along with us here on the blog for a more in-depth look at how paths can help organize your GOTV workflow and organization, or signup for blog updates on our the NationBuilder blog.