How You Can Use Data Appending to Increase Voter Contact Rates by More Than 50 Percent

Every election is won in the field. You can have the perfect messaging, the best candidate, plenty of money, but without reaching your voters, none of that matters. In the inverse, you can have less money, a challenger instead of an incumbent, and less-than-slick messaging, and a great field program can still help you come out on top.

Today I want to share two tips on how to radically improve your field program. Now, I will stress that reaching voters face to face is going to make the biggest difference for persuasion. It’s the one field method repeatedly proven to have a significant effect on turnout, 10 percent and more (yes, signs help, but very little). Along with costly — whether in volunteer hours or dollars for paid canvassers — door-to-door efforts, your field program is going to have phone, mail and email components. You’ll want to touch each likely voter several times, and, if you can afford it, the less likely voters, too. And mixing up contact types will help you reach more of your voters without ticking them off.

The first tip — with voters increasingly using mobiles as their primary phones, texting, with open rates around 95%, will radically improve low-touch contact rates. It’s not cheap, but it’s quick and easy with services like Hustle, Handstack and Relay. Both Democratic Presidential Primary candidates used commercial and house-built voter texting solutions.

Second, use data appending liberally. In many races, just a few hundred dollars will radically improve contact rates. Let’s look at a hypothetical race in California with 10,000 targeted voters.

  • 1,500 of the voters have landline phones on the voter file. You’ll need to use line-type verification, depending on which vendor you’re using. About 20% of those numbers will be inaccurate.
  • 3,500 voters will have mobile phones as their primary on the file. At least 20% of those will be inaccurate.
  • In California, voter files include email. 4,500 of your voters will have email on the file, but 30% will be bad.

In this hypothetical, in a first pass at reaching your voters, you’ll reach about 20% with a call to home, 95% with a text, and 10% will open your emails. That’s about 3,200 contacts.

Here’s where phone and email appends come in. For each voter where you’re missing a home or mobile phone or email address, a data append from a service like Accurate Append (client) can increase coverage by a third. Use the same contact rates above, and you’ll make more than 1,600 new contacts after your data append. You can take that to Election Day.