12 Oct 2015
October 12, 2015

How to Better Understand Your Voters

focus groupHave you ever given a campaign speech and felt the response was a little...off? Then you know how important avoiding assumptions and truly understanding your voters is for getting you elected or re-elected. Before messaging, tactics, or anything else is discussed, your campaign has to figure out what your voters care about so you can address those issues with them.

To get a solid picture, your campaign will need a mix of quantitative and qualitative data. Here are some tips for each:

Quantitative Data

All campaigns need to focus on data and obtain a voter file for the district in which they are running. That's the basis for all marketing, engagement and understanding the voters. Then you need to poll them. Using affordable tools like SurveyMonkey to survey your voters can help give you a pulse on engagement and points of view. Our team can append data to fill in various missing fields such as phone, address, and email. Online ads are also a great way to get more responses and the targeting capabilities are pretty sophisticated theses days. Phone surveys can also be used alone or in combination with the web survey to again, get more feedback. 

Outside of polling the voter file, your campaign should also take a look at the demographics of a district to analyze the makeup of it. This is usually available with census data. Campaign Now also can do a district analysis to make the data easier to understand and respond to. Note that you want to be sure you have the most up-to-date census data, as lines are sometimes redrawn over time.

Qualitative Data

Aside from your bar graphs and pie charts, you also need some quotes and stories from real people to paint a pull picture.

Polling can be difficult for smaller campaigns so usually running a small three to five question survey over the phone is best to get a pulse on the voting population with a good response rate. For larger campaigns with a large pool of voters like for a state senate seat, focus groups can be highly effective for getting feedback and gauging perception.

For more of a conversation style interaction, tele-townhalls and door-to-door initiatives can be highly effective and informative due to their intimate nature.

Those are our basic tips for understanding your voters better. Make sure you don't do it once and forget about it, but instead revisit these tips from time to time, especially when messaging starts to feel a little off base.

Check out our polling and analysis page for more details on relevant services and then give us a call at (855) 329-4327 to ask us any questions you have.

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John Connors

Written by John Connors

John Connors is the President and founder of Campaign Now. He grew up in northern Wisconsin and now lives in Dallas, TX. He's a political guy with a good eye on marketing and metrics.