Key Takeaways and Lessons from Our Campaign Survey
Shortly after the 2018 election cycle, The Campaign Workshop sent out a post-election campaign survey. We sent this campaign survey out to our network of campaign professionals and got back 49 total responses. We asked a variety of questions on topics ranging from campaign tools, voter contact mediums, and key takeaways and mistakes. The people who responded to our survey worked on political campaigns all over the country, from U.S. Senate races all the way down to very local elections. The majority of the respondents served as campaign managers or in director level roles. The respondents were a diverse group in terms of their experience, with roughly an even number of people with campaign experience ranging from less than 1 year, 2-4 years, 5-9 years, 10-14 years and 15+ years. While this is in no way a scientific survey or a representative sample, we did pull out the few key takeaways from our campaign survey. In the coming days, we’ll be releasing more takeaways from this survey. Below is our rough topline analysis.
We asked our respondents: How was the data from the voter file you used? We gave respondents a number of political data provider options, or N/A if they hadn’t used any of the options we provided. Predictably, VAN/Votebuilder was the tool that was used by the majority of our respondents. And of the people who used VAN, over 68% said the data they accessed through the platform was either good or great. Other data sources such as Catalist, PDI and L2 were used less frequently by our respondents but were generally well-liked among the people who did use them. Of the data sources we polled, data that came directly from the Board of Elections received the most bad or needs work responses, which is not surprising given that we regularly recommend avoiding using this data.
Voter Contact Mediums
Another question we asked our respondents is: How much of each voter contact medium did you use on your campaign? Too much, just enough, or too little? We provided the mediums of direct mail, TV, phones, digital and field. Interestingly, roughly 41% and 39% answered they had too little digital and field, respectively. On the flip side, roughly 19% and 16% answered they had too much direct mail and phones, respectively. But overall, the majority of our respondents answered that they had just enough of each of the tactics we provided.
Social Media Tactics
We then asked our respondents: How effective were the social media platforms you used to reach your target audience? Effective, somewhat effective, not very effective, or not effective at all? We provided the platforms of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and LinkedIn. What stands out most in the results is the fact that over 53% said that Facebook was effective and another 38% said it was somewhat effective, far and away the strongest results in this question. Similarly, a combined 50% said that Twitter was either effective or somewhat effective.
In analyzing the data, over 44% of people answered N/A about using Instagram for their campaign. However, if you’re advertising on Facebook, in most cases you actually have to opt-out of also advertising on Instagram too, leading us to believe many people didn’t even know that they were advertising on the platform. Perhaps the most interesting results in the campaign survey is the fact that the vast majority of respondents answered N/A about Snapchat and LinkedIn, leading us to infer that these aren’t yet widely adopted platforms in the political space.
Effective & Favorite Campaign Tools
Another question we asked is: How effective were these campaign tools? Effective, somewhat effective, not very effective, or not effective at all? We then provided a long list of campaign tools. Among these tools was NGPVAN/Mini VAN, which was rated 67% effective and 21% somewhat effective, the highest of any tool. ActBlue was the second highest rated campaign tool, with 61% of respondents rating it effective and another 15% somewhat effective. Rounding out the top three campaign tools was Hustle, with a combined 54% rating of either effective or somewhat effective. A number of other campaigns tools that we listed such as BallotReady, Organizer, Grassroots Unwired, Voter Circle, Ten More Votes and Nation Builder didn’t have enough usage among our respondents for us to analyze the data. As a follow up question, we also asked: What was your favorite campaign tool? Our respondents’ favorite tool with over 58% was NGPVAN/Mini Van. Tied for second place was then ActBlue and Hustle.
We asked respondents the open-ended question to our respondents: What was your biggest takeaway from this election? Predictably, the results varied pretty widely. But one common theme was that field, volunteers, and meeting voters one-on-on at the door still really matter. The importance of communicating with voters digitally and integrating digital across your whole campaign was also a prominent theme among these campaign professionals
We also asked our respondents: What was your biggest mistake this cycle? The answers here also varied, but one common theme was that many wished their campaigns had started earlier. Some mentioned that their fundraising could have started earlier, others that they could have invested in digital earlier, etc. What’s more, many of our respondents also regretted that they had not invested enough in social media or in digital on their campaigns.
Curious about the other results of our 2018 post-election campaign survey? Reach out to The Campaign Workshop today!