The money’s raised, the ads are paid in full, and the candidate’s schedule doesn’t have a free minute until November 6. Yep, it’s that time of year, the final days of the campaign. So what does it take to sprint to the finish line looking like a Get-Out-The-Vote Svengali? It’s not just about having a brilliant plan; it’s about how efficiently you execute it. Here are five lessons learned from 16 years of working with campaigns and managing GOTV teams that your campaign can draw from ahead of Election Day. 1. The Plan: The plan should already be in place. How one prioritizes voter turnout operations will be the key to making sure the right voters get to the polls. If you are running turnout operations, you don’t need to be the guy running out to knock on doors. Your management of staff and volunteers is more important than your volunteer capabilities. That means organizing schedules, managing personalities and putting people’s strengths to work in a way that prioritizes turnout for your candidate or party. 2. It’s Half Over by Election Day: If you think November 6th is the only day to turn out voters, you could be leaving half the electorate off the table. The trend across the country is to vote early (in-person or absentee) so prioritize your plan to target all of your voters. It’s one of the biggest pitfalls in campaigns these days because every state changes their early vote schedules and rules so frequently. Even if you haven’t made a big early vote push up until now, there still may be time. Know the law, know your turnout priorities, and don’t neglect early/absentee voting.3. The Schedule: The old adage of “first one in, last to leave” has never been as important as it is here. If one truly wants to be efficient in turning out the vote, plan your staff and volunteer schedules, up to the minute, before the day begins. And when all is said and done at the end of the day, spend some time to evaluate whether everyone was used effectively and make the necessary changes for the following day. 4. Proper Messaging: Keep it simple. Keep it on message. If voters are concerned about the economy and your volunteers are knocking on doors pushing water rights issues, you are wasting time and leaving votes on the table. GOTV messaging should focus on 1-2 issues and a strong reminder to vote. Consider scaring the hell out of your voters. You may think this is a joke—it’s not. A passive voter may not vote. But a voter that fears for his or her future will vote and they will probably take family and friends to the polls as well. 5. Proper Messenger: If you think a 14 year old knocking on doors and talking about economic issues is the right messenger for your campaign, think again. Spend some time thinking about how to use each volunteer and how they can best convey your campaign’s message. Consider putting teens on calls and letting them help with social media GOTV. Consider staff and adults the face of the campaign—i.e. door-to-door and event messaging moments. The political strategists get the glory, but the GOTV team is the guts of the campaign. Having been through close races and a recount, your efficiency with turning out voters could be the difference between winning and losing. Good luck! @PhillipStutts is president of Phillip Stutts & Company, a political/grassroots consulting firm.
It's not just about having a plan; it's about how efficiently you execute it.