Campaign Operations

Best Free Technology for Political Campaigns

here’s recently been an explosion of technology built to meet the needs of political campaigns. From door knocking to texting to digital ads to voter registration, there’s likely an app or software product that will help your campaign to save time, effort, and money.

Before we get to the free options, let me put in a plug for Victory Guide, the best-in-class option for managing your campaign’s field operations. Victory Guide eliminates the need to cut turf, make call sheets, or manually organize your voter contacts and data. Campaigns that use Victory Guide, save hours and hours of time—time that can be better spent talking to voters.

In addition to technology specific to campaigns, there are many great free tech tools available to help you. In this blog post, we explore a few.

Email

MailChimp allows you to easily design beautiful email blasts and newsletters without being a graphic designer. It’s free if you have less than 2,000 subscribers.

Yet Another Mail Merge is a great way to send personalized emails in bulk directly from your Gmail account. It lets you easily set up a mail merge to customize the recipients name, organization, donation amount, etc. You can send up to 50 emails a day for free.

Upcoming Webinar on Political Technology

Every candidate running for office in 2019 has the opportunity to run an effective, efficient, and winning campaign, especially if they make use of the growing number of technology products for Democratic candidates.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you are a first-time candidate or are running for a non-partisan office or have a small budget that you can’t run a best in class campaign. There is a new generation of political tech designed to meet the needs of 2019 candidates for local offices.

Need help navigating the options? Join us for an upcoming webinar on technology for down ballot political campaigns.

On May 29, 2019 at 1 pm (Eastern), we’ll be hosting a free webinar to showcase the technology options available for political campaigns.

Reserve your spot on the live webinar at https://www.victoryguide.us/webinar-campaign-tech.

Can’t join the webinar? Sign up at the above url to receive a link to a recording of the webinar.

Best Down Ballot Technology

Campaign and Elections has recognized Victory Guide as the best down ballot technology solution for political campaigns in 2019. This award identifies the best technology to assist candidates running for local and state offices.

Victory Guide is a digital campaign manager that provides daily advice and automates the most time-consuming parts of running, like cutting turf for door knocking and organizing your campaign data.

This is the second year that Victory Guide has won this award, making us the only repeat winner (within a category) of a Campaign and Election award. The team at Victory Guide is delighted to have our work recognized again!

The 2019 award winners were announced at a ceremony in Washington, DC on April 25, 2019.

Congratulations to all of the award recipients!

Canvassing 101: How to Knock Doors

alking to voters is one of the two most important things a campaign does, other than raising money. Speaking to voters at their home is an effective and low cost way to distribute your message, persuade voters to vote for you, and identify supporters. Research consistently shows that door knocking is the best way to earn voters and to increase voter turnout.

Canvassing can also be an efficient way for a candidate to learn about the concerns in the community and to begin to formulate policy positions. It’s also a great way to prepare for candidate debates, as you never know what a voter may ask you at their door!

What to Expect

  • A canvasser can reach 20 doors per hour in a suburban area

  • One in three doors will be answered

  • You’ll need to contact 15 voters to generate 1 vote, plus a spillover effect of 1-2 additional vote from others in the household

Your Must Have Accessories for Campaigning

A special blog post from Victory Guide’s CEO Julie Palakovich Carr.

As a three time candidate for office and local elected official, I've personally knocked on close to 20,000 doors in the past five years.  In that time, I've fine-tuned what I bring with me to go door knocking. Here’s my go to list of accessories that make door knocking easier.

  • A portable charger for recharging your phone on the go. If you haven’t used one of these devices before, it’s a game changer. You can go out canvassing all day and not worry about your phone battery dying. I have an Android phone and used this model, but similar devices exist for iPhones. The best portable battery will hold enough charge to fully recharge your phone and will be small enough to fit into your pocket.

Where to Get a Voter File for Your Campaign

Getting a list of the registered voters in your district is one of the essential things that every political campaign needs to do.  Without a voter file, you can't target the right voters.

There are a variety of options of where to obtain a voter roll, including your city/county/state government or a commercial data vendor.

Regardless of where you get the data from, be sure to request the voting history for each registered voter for at least the last three comparable elections.  For instance, if you are running for city council in 2019 and elections for this office are held every two years, you would want the voter history data for 2017, 2015, and 2013.  Although these records don't tell you how a voter voted--the ballot is secret after all--this information is vital in determining which registered voters actually vote.  That's especially important since only roughly 40% of registered voters vote in mid-term elections (e.g. 2018) and the turnout is even lower for primaries, special elections, and odd-year municipal elections.  For instance, turnout of 20% or less is not usual for local elections.  

Door Knocking Made Easy with Smart Walk Sheets

We're delighted to announce a major new feature in Victory Guide: the ability for a canvasser to pick their own walk sheet in the area of their choice.  It's like being able to cut turf on the fly from within the Victory Guide app.

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A user simply pans to the part of the district that they want to knock in and taps the smart walk sheet button.  The system will recommend clusters of doors in that area that are actually walkable--no crossing busy roads or impassable barriers like waterways.  If the user doesn't like the first walk sheet that was recommended, they can preview other walk sheets in that area.

Each smart walk sheet is customized to the canvassing schedule of the user.  If a user is scheduled to knock for 1 hour that day they will see a smaller walk sheet than someone who is scheduled to knock for more time.

As always, doors that have already been knocked by the campaign won't be included in a walk sheet nor will doors that another canvasser selected for the day.

Want to see smart walk sheets in action?  Contact us for a demo.

How to Hire Campaign Staff 101

How to Hire Campaign Staff 101

Your campaign is ready to make the leap and to hire paid campaign staff.  Whether you are making your first hire or staffing up your campaign, here are some resources to help you.

Assess Your Campaign’s Needs

The first step is deciding what help your campaign currently needs or will need down the road.  Ideally, you should be looking to fill a core campaign need(s) with the person you hire.  What are the duties that you as a candidate are struggling with?  Is it formulating campaign strategy?  Is it staying on track for fundraising?  Whatever it is that you need help with, make a list to include in the job description.

Check out this example of a job description for a campaign manager.

Be aware that prior campaign experience is helpful, but not always necessary.  Finding someone who is enthusiastic, self-motivated, and eager to take on new tasks is just as important, if not more so.

Knock, Knock: Why Canvassing is the Best Way to Reach Voters

As a candidate for elected office, it can be overwhelming to try to figure out how to best reach voters.  Should you spend your time knocking on doors or calling voters?  Is attending community events worthwhile?  Maybe it’s better to focus on fundraising and to spend the money on direct mail?

You may also be getting conflicting advice from your campaign advisors, from other people who have run for office, and from vendors.  Each person has their “war story” of how they won an election using some particular tactic.

But how do you know what strategy really works?

How to Knock 10,000+ Doors Without Breaking a Sweat

If you are running for state legislature, county or city council, or school board, you will need to personally talk to a lot of voters. These races for lower levels of government are not big, impersonal machines like presidential or congressional campaigns are. Down ballot races are won and lost by the outreach their candidates personally do.

The science is clear that the best way to persuade voters is to talk to them in person, especially by knocking on voters’ doors.

I know what you’re thinking: knocking on doors takes so much time. And that’s true. But there’s an easy way and a hard way to do door knocking.

Upcoming Webinars

We're holding two webinars in March.  Join us for these free events.

Webinar: Jump Start Your Political Campaign

MARCH 6, 2018

8-9 PM (EASTERN)

If you are running for office this year or considering it for a future election cycle, this webinar is for you. Learn how to get your political campaign off on the right start and find out the five biggest mistakes candidates make.

https://www.victoryguide.us/webinar-jump-start-your-political-campaign

Webinar: Best Practices in Voter Outreach

MARCH 14, 2018

4-5 PM (EASTERN)

Learn the best ways to persuade voters and to get them out to the polls. This webinar will cover the efficacy of various methods of outreach by campaigns and will provide guidance on how to target voters.

https://www.victoryguide.us/webinar-best-practices-in-voter-outreach

15 Questions All New Candidates Should Ask

You’ve decided to run for office. Congratulations! But now what do you?

One of the first steps you should take is to research the rules, regulations, and laws that govern elections in your jurisdiction. The best place to start is with the Board of Elections or City Clerk, County Clerk, or State (depending on what level of government you are running for). Take a look at their website or give them a call. They likely have a resource packet for candidates.

Some questions you should ask:

  • When is the filing deadline?
  • What paperwork do I need to complete to officially file as a candidate?

Jump Start Your Political Campaign

Congratulations on making the decision to run for office! Politics is a difficult—but rewarding—endeavor. With these seven steps, you can get your campaign off to a successful start.

  1. Are you ready to run? Before you throw your hat into the ring, think hard about your decision to run. Talk to your spouse, family, friends, and key people in your community about whether or not to run. Be sure that you have their support and their commitment to help with your campaign. Make sure that you can take time off from work for your campaign; at the minimum you may need time off for debates and Election Day.

  2. Fill key roles. Determine who will play a central role in your campaign. You need to line up a campaign manager, a treasurer, and a "kitchen cabinet" of advisers. You’ll work most closely with your campaign manager to develop your campaign strategy and to execute this plan. (A word to the wise: Your spouse will most likely NOT make for a good campaign manager.) Your treasurer will handle the financial parts of your campaign. Although a background in accounting could be helpful, it’s not necessary. A good attention to detail will suffice. Your kitchen cabinet will be the backbone of your campaign and will provide you with advice, funds, and volunteer efforts.