The AAPC recently caught up with Danielle Cendejas, Senior Vice President, The Strategy Group, Mark Harris, Partner, Coldspark, and Hunter Hawkins, Digital Director of Policy & Advocacy, The Lukens Company, to find out how the anticipated surge in early voting this cycle is affecting their campaign work.
What are you doing / what’s your plan around turnout for early voting?
Cendejas: I do most of my work in California, and every voter will be receiving a ballot this election. We anticipate many voters, who usually wait to vote close to or on Election Day, will be returning their ballots almost as soon as they receive it. Our team has adjusted our mail schedules and pushed our candidates to ramp up their fundraising efforts to ensure we reach those voters who want to make their decisions earlier. We will also closely monitor ballot receipt data made so we can adjust our mail files, digital ads, and field activities to maximize our client’s resources.
Harris: Our plan for turnout uses the traditional fundamentals of looking at our low turnout voters and reaching them at their doors, on the phones, online, and in the mail to get them out. The difference is this year we have more options to get them to vote by mail in addition to just election day. As people vote each day we can strike them from our list and focus on those who have not. It’s the same principles but on a massive scale.
Hawkins: A good number of our clients have been focused on early voting and voting by mail, which seems to be a bit higher than normal. Obviously with COVID still playing a huge role in this, we have had to recalibrate a bit and rework our schedule. Essentially all of our digital ad calendars had to shift back 2-3 weeks from what we thought we would find when the year started. Our creative has focused significantly more on early voting, and redirecting voters to their state’s early voting websites and registrations. GOTV has essentially turned from a 72 hour push, to a month long push in many states.
What are you going to do the week before the election to GOTV?
Cendejas: For clients, we will be very focused on helping update universes, provide support for organic social media posts, and continue helping set up online phone and text banks until the polls close.
Hawkins: We all know the major role that Facebook has played in the last election, but we have been forced to evolve given the restrictions in place for 2020. Therefore, we switched our focus on display, videos, OTT, CTV, texting, etc. to help pull our candidates over the finish line. As strange as it sounds coming from the digital side, our mail shop has been playing a leading role in the upcoming GOTV since a large number of people in our country are most likely at home, looking at one of their many screens. That lends itself to mail and videos quite nicely.
How is Facebook’s ban on new political ads the week before the election impacting your strategy?
Cendejas: It forces us to be more intentional with placing the buy. Many of our down-ballot candidates have limited budgets and have to choose where they spend their money. The new deadline means we’ll likely be spending less money on Facebook and more on a self-service digital ads platform, text messaging, or door hangers. We’ll also ask our supporters to post on their accounts about the candidate to spread the word.
Harris: It means planning in advance on what creative we MIGHT want to run and trying to get those prepared. This is an incredibly dumb move by Facebook that ultimately will only hurt underfunded and underdog campaigns. Oftentimes, late Facebook creative is made to respond to false attacks elsewhere. We won’t be able to use that tool this year.
Hawkins: In a strange way, our strategy has not had significant edits to it because of the new ban. The only real thing it’s doing is shifting up our creative date one week, so instead of pushing live in the last 48-72 hours before election day, we are pushing our ads live 9+ days ahead of time.