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Patrick Mennucci
Patrick Mennucci

In recent years, the economic crisis in Europe accelerated a fiscal, social, and geographical divide in the French city of Marseille. Patrick Mennucci, a left-wing candidate native to the city, made waves in early November after advancing to the second round of voting only 300 votes ahead of the third candidate—a member of the Prime Minister’s cabinet. When you consider the national notoriety and greater access to media Mennucci was up against, his victory over the third candidate is nothing short of remarkable. The team at La Netscouade attributes the win to more effective field organizing and mobilization strategy using NationBuilder features and analytics.

Mennucci's biggest opponent in March is incumbent Jean-Claude Gaudin, a member of the right-wing conservative party—UMP (Union pour un Mouvement Populaire)—the party of former President Sarkozy. Let's take a closer look at the tactics Mennucci's team used to inspire voters from the left so effectively, many are wondering how Gaudin's team will compete.

The team analyzed a diverse range of existing organizing platforms before deciding NationBuilder was the best fit. “Instead of paying for a consultant, here was a community organizing system we could put into action ourselves,” said La Netscouade’s Associate Director, Matthieu Lerondeau, “Plus, we’re ambitious—we wanted to learn the software so we could stay relevant in the digital organizing space.”

The La Netscouade team used NationBuilder to examine data from several polling stations—each representing around 1500 people—and tagged individual voters according to those stations. Laurent Nicolas, a consultant at La Netscouade, said the tagging feature was crucial to their success, "because when turning out voters, it is the technicalities that win elections." The team also implemented an A/B email testing approach, using NationBuilder’s advanced search to create segmented recipient lists before preparing the emails with different variables, such as time of delivery and content. After the blast, La Netscouade helped the campaign staff analyze the results to determine which email strategies were the most effective.

“Beyond increasing our efficiency, these methods significantly increased interest and motivation across the entire campaign staff, giving greater purpose to tasks that weren’t necessarily considered strategic before,” said Nicolas. Information about their support base increased as the staff used NationBuilder to record and describe every social exchange between Mennucci and members of the public. Ultimately, Mennucci’s rise from underdog to frontrunner can only be explained by La Netscouade’s adept use of traditional field tactics in collaboration with NationBuilder’s organizing features. 

In the weeks following Mennucci’s unprecedented success at the primary, Lerondeau says his phone “hasn’t stopped ringing,” with inquiries from other cities in France. Over the next year, the team at La Netscouade will continue organizing support around their largest concern: figuring out how to motivate left-leaning voters to get off the couch on election day. Beyond elections, the team continues to gain experience with community organizing issues in an effort to stay at the forefront of digital solutions.

[photo credit: Patrick Mennucci Flickr]

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