Political systems in the US are looking mighty red after sweeping Republican victories in 2016. The GOP controls the White House, US Senate, US House of Representatives, 33 gubernatorial offices, and 32 state legislatures. To borrow from Star Trek, local elections are the final frontier.
County and municipal elections remain a strength for the Democratic Party. The newly election DNC Chairman, Tom Perez made clear his path for taking back elected offices. Perez tweeted, “The DNC needs a culture shift. This is about creating a grassroots movement in every zip code to elect people from school board to senate.” While Dems are holding to this stronghold as the base on which to rebuild their party’s rapport with voters, the era of Trumpism has the momentum going into the 2017 election cycle. Breaking through this last blue wall requires a fresh approach from GOP candidates.
Campaigning for local office is a beast that is unlike running for statewide and federal offices. The close proximity of the office holder and the community he/she represents rewards people-focused over policy-centric campaigns.
In the past, it boiled down to door-knocking, baby-kissing, and handshaking. While we believe those tactics are vital to campaigns at every level, the digital age continues to change the way we foster personal connections.
Budget constraints have traditionally left municipal races in the digital dark ages, but as campaign technology democratizes, affordable solutions are now available. Taking the digital leap is crucial for Republicans looking to win local elections in 2017.
Two things to consider before choosing a digital partner for your campaign:
1) Price vs. Value
Both price and value are important – especially to local campaigns that typically operate on a tight budget, but if you have to choose one, go with value.
Finding cheap digital solutions isn’t hard. They usually appear in the form of a local ad guy or girl that produces TV spots and “plays in digital on the side.” This is not who you want to partner with to run digital for your campaign.
Most of these local advertisers are really good at producing traditional media, but creating an effective digital funnel is an animal all to itself. Think about when you’re car is giving you problems and you don’t know why. You don’t take your car to a shoe repair guy. If you want it fixed, you take it to a qualified mechanic.
In the same way, hiring someone that does digital on the side to run your campaign’s online presence is like paying a cobbler to repair your car’s engine.
Breaking through the final blue wall and winning a local election requires real world results from digital advertising, not just pretty metrics. Spend the extra money to partner with a digital firm that has experience in creating online funnels that move voters through the progression of know, like, trust, and vote.
2) Primary and Supplemental Goals
The obvious main objective is to turn out voters on election day, but chances are your candidate’s campaign could use some extra help before community members head to the polls.
Every digital campaign should have branding and educational components allowing your target audience to learn about your candidate and his/her platform. Supplemental goals help your campaign’s sustainability by asking interested voters for additional support – either through financial donations or volunteered time.
If your goal is to build a volunteer base, targets will need to progress through a digital path that is different than a path to raise contributions. It’s important to determine your supplemental goals on the front end so that you can ensure your digital partner has the tools and experience to ensure your online campaign generates real world results.
By extending the momentum from the 2016 election, Republicans are poised to make gains in the final blue frontier. Doing this, however, will require a fresh approach to making personal connections with voters where they already are every day: online.
A winning digital approach focuses on clear primary and supplemental goals while placing an emphasis on value over price.
Use these considerations to empower your online campaign presence and push your candidate to victory in 2017.