category: Voter Contact

Does the list make the candidate?

by admin at 1:09am, March 16, 2009 | E-Campaign, Email, Voter Contact, Voter File

The Washington Post recently did a story about how the organization “Obama For America” (OFA) is poised to flex their organizing muscle for the Presidents budget proposal. There are plenty of stories out there that talk about this move from a political aspect and whether it will be effective but many outlets are under reporting the premise that enabled OFA to mobilize millions in support of the Presidents agenda. Alex Vogel, a republican political consultant hits it on the nose at the end of the article,

“If mail lists made Karl Rove, e-mail and cell lists made Obama,” he said, referring to the former White House deputy chief of staff. “But what good is a list if your message is bad?”

The point is this – “the list” or database is the essential tool for a win. As Alex Vogel points out it was the list that made the candidate (or the consultant). I can’t stress the “tool” portion of that statement enough, a list is tool and nothing more – just as a good hammer can help you build a house simply having the hammer doesn’t mean you can build it.

According to Obamas email list is around 13 million email addresses. If you match that with the reported responses in the Wapo article (30k) that puts the conversion rate right around .23%. The article does note that only the people who “attended or hosted” an Obama house party would receive an email so it is safe to assume that not all 13 million email addresses were used – probably a lot less than half received an email.

I am going to go way off the reservation here and guesstimate that 1 million emails were sent out – at that number the OFA is looking at a 3% conversion rate. A rate that is incredibly low for an opt-in list like that. So, that begs the question, is the list bad (highly unlikely) or is the message not resonating? (and yea this is assuming I am right that they sent out around 1 million emails – even if they sent out 500k a 6% conversion rate is probably not great)

I will leave you all to debate that question, but OFA has the list/database which is half the battle and they will continue to wield it until it attrites away or the message resonates.

Vlytics Open API in 2009

by admin at 1:03am, February 4, 2009 | Open API, Vlytics, Voter Contact

Fact: Vlytics will provide some sort of open API for voter files in the 2009 Calendar Year.

As witnessed in political tech articles over the past year both democrat and republican techtivists (what I like to call technology inclined political activists) have been calling for some sort of freely available open API so they can build data driven applications.

If you don’t know what an open API is or what it can do for you than it probably won’t matter to you right away. But down the road an Open API will lead to free mobile apps, google map mashups, and maybe even an easy way to get some basic stats on a district.

For those of you who do know what an open API is, rest assured I want to allow you to be able to pull all sorts of data based on Vlytics Voter Files.

Why is Vlytics doing this? Honestly, not sure yet other than I see a need for freely available data feeds for budding techtivists looking to take campaigns into the next generation. As I hash this idea out I will post here my thoughts and thoughts from others.

I have to be somewhat careful to protect my business model as well as my hosting costs but I see an opportunity here for Vlytics to do something for the techtivist community at large – hey maybe someone will build an App I might want to buy/integrate into the Vlytics platform?

If you want to know when I will release it, what data will be available, and if there will be call limiting than I can tell you those questions aren’t answered yet. I do want to hear from you, just leave a comment below.

Woo a Voter

by admin at 12:02am, December 9, 2008 | E-Campaign, New Media, Political IT, Voter Contact

Interestingly enough the internet and the buzz word of the last year “new media” (I personally dislike the term but for lack of better option I will use it here) has brought back retail politics. Retail politics involves knowing everyone in the community in which you get elected and as of late has been replaced by brute force political machinery where quantity over quality is king.

If there is one thing people have learned from the most recent election is that the electorate needs to be “wooed” not blasted. “Woo” means talking to single mothers about health care and not second amendment rights, talking to home owners about loan assistance and not just tax credits – “woo” means intelligently speaking to voters on an individual level not just finding the most common denominator among the electorate.

The capabilities of internet and new media replaces chicken dinners, pancake breakfasts, coffee clatches, school symposiums and state fair booths with facebook pages, blog updates, twitter feeds, youtube videos, and the ever popular email news letters. The key for campaigns it that these tools accomplish the exact same principles as retail politics but at a micro-fraction of the cost, time, and campaign infrastructure.

Let me be clear, the answer is not to open up 5 social networking accounts, pick up a twitter account and populate it with regurgitated press releases, or send out incessant emails of the same canned dribble. Rather come up with a top to bottom strategy that fits your style and more importantly your electorate – if you don’t think you can handle this there are plenty of great people out there who can help you do it.

A top to bottom strategy includes not only communicating outward but gathering information. Keep this in mind as one of the great things about “new media” is the multi-way conversation that goes on and if you can’t store, analyze, and subsequently act on that gathered information its like talking with someone and forgetting every word they say as soon as it hits your ears.

All those voter contacts you made, emails you collected, and analysis you performed – do you really want to do it again in a year or two? Could you use it in an upcoming 2009 election (there will be over 50,000 in 2009)?

If your wondering whether this is veiled sales pitch to use Vlytics – than you guessed right but I will remind you that one of the best political operations in the last 50 years spent the weekend trying to figure out how to keep the grassroots, voter contact, and all the data gleaned from the last election going – so shouldn’t you?