Use the Magic Calculator for Voter Contact by Joy Cushman

By at September 28, 2012 | 2:19 pm | Print

Use the Magic Calculator for Voter Contact by Joy Cushman

Joy Cushman NOI
Creating a voter contact or Get Out The Vote plan is as much art as science. And if you’re on the fence about whether or not your organization should do voter contact this year, it’s not too late to start! Some PICO organizers and I came up with what we like to call the “magic calculator” for voter contact to help local organizers figure out their basic assumptions so they could get out on the doors and on the phones and start moving voters immediately. Here’s how it works:

  • First, decide your assumptions. Your assumptions should be based on your past experience in your region, and the unique voter universes you have created for your campaign. (The ones in the calculator are relatively conservative assumptions for this election cycle if you’ve done some basic targeting.)


  • Adapt your assumptions as you go. Ask questions like: where do you have the highest contact rates and why? When do you find the lowest volunteer flake rates and why?


  • Ask volunteers to commit to weekly shifts. If your volunteer commitment goal is 3,000 commitments, that’s a pretty heavy lift for a small staff. However, if you get 250 people to commit to 1 regular weekday shift and 1 weekend shift every week til Election Day, you’ll meet your goal.


  • Delegate vote goals. If your vote goal is 10,000 votes, consider asking 10 institutions or volunteer teams to commit to turning out 1,000 voters each from your targeted universes. Check out the calculator to see how realistic that is. If they own the goals they are more likely to commit to filling all the volunteer shifts necessary to meet the goal so you don’t have to go back asking for more shifts every week.


  • Invest in a little targeting support. It will maximize the impact of your voter contact and GOTV programs so you can focus your program on those voters who most need the extra nudge to go vote. (In case you don’t have experience targeting, hire a consultant to help out.)

Don’t sweat the math. Figure out the basics to get your program off the ground, then adapt as you go. Good luck – the clock is ticking.

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Joy Cushman, Organizing Director, New Organizing Institute (NOI).  Evan oversees NOI’s online content.  NOI trains organizers to build and manage effective movements by integrating tried-and-true community organizing, cutting-edge digital strategy, and data-driven decision making. NOI provide free access to revolutionary tools, technologies, and research to help campaigns reach the next level.

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