You think early voting is the prelude to the main event: election day.
Someone else thinks early voting means “every day is election day”.
You’re both right…and wrong.
It’s time to upgrade your early vote strategy.
In the early days of early voting in Texas it was viewed as more of an after thought with the lion’s share of a campaign’s efforts reserved for election day itself.
As voters became more familiar and comfortable with the concept of early voting they began participating in the early vote period at a higher rate. This led to campaigns shifting more effort and resources to the early voting period.
Often I find myself consulting on campaigns that are stuck in one camp or another, and trying to talk campaign managers into thinking about early voting in an entirely new way. This results in a few hours of explanation followed by the high probability that they just do what they’ve always done anyway.
In football they say you must execute three phases: offense, defense, and special teams. My old pal Crash Davis said about baseball, “This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball.”
So, why is your campaign only focusing on one phase?
The reality is that every campaign is (or should be) about three phases: identification of likely voters, persuasion of undecided voters, and turnout of likely voters who support your candidate.
Different campaign managers have different processes they are comfortable with to identify (aka “ID”) a universe of likely voters. Some prefer phones while others rely on door-to-door canvassing.
For this discussion the ID process is immaterial to the broader point, but the end result is that your campaign should end up with four lists at the conclusion of the ID phase: likely voters who say they will support your candidate, likely voters who say they will not support your candidate, likely voters who say they are undecided, and likely voters who refused to answer or were unable to be contacted.
At this point you have a clear direction for who needs to move to your persuasion phase: likely voters who say they are undecided, and likely voters who refused to answer or were unable to be contacted.
You also have your first installment of likely voters for your turnout phase: likely voters who say they will support your candidate.
So, early voting begins. Your campaign manager says, “time to switch to turnout mode”, your field director says, “we must ID more voters, your paid communications consultants say, “now we double down on persuasion”. Whose counsel do you heed? The answer is “All Of The Above”.
Each day of early voting is election day…and the day before election day…and two days before election day, etc.
It is imperative for any campaign to run on all three parallel tracks simultaneously: ID, persuade, turnout.
As you diminish your pool of positive voters through your turnout phase you must replenish the pool utilizing the ID and persuasion phases.
At the conclusion of early voting you can ditch the ID phase and fall back hard on your persuasion and turnout phases, but not one day before that.
Don’t let your campaign get trapped in the dogmatic thought process of your campaign manager. Upgrade your early vote strategy by following through on all three phases until your campaign crosses the finish line.