Learning and Adapting on the Statewide Election Trail

Political campaigns were among the many activities of normal life upended by the sudden emergence of COVID-19 in the winter of 2020. State and local campaigns, which often turn on successful door-to-door voter contact, were particularly affected.

In a Talking Points Memo piece co-authored with David Shorr, an evaluation colleague and local elected official, I analyzed how the Wisconsin Democratic Party succeeded in getting out the vote with only weeks to go before critically important April 2020 elections.

Crucial to WisDems success was the Party’s quick and effective support to volunteers who called and texted voters. Providing volunteers with multiple platforms for communication, and an all-important accurate list of cell phone numbers, was crucial.

So was the message. In the confusing early days of COVID, volunteers could offer hard-to-find information on COVID-related resources and methods to vote safely, including absentee ballots. This made calling friends and family less awkward for some.

Third, the Party used publicly available data about requests for absentee ballots to inform its voter outreach strategies while voter mobilization tactics could still be honed and refined in advance of Election Day.

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