GOTV Direct Mail Ideas for Any Political Campaign

by Joe Fuld (He/Him) and Elena Veatch

GOTV: mail box open with mail stack showing

Cost-Effective Mail Tactics for a Winning GOTV Strategy

There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all political campaign, but there’s one strategic element that no campaign can afford to leave out: GOTV. A strong get-out-the-vote (GOTV) program may get you the handful of votes you need to win your election, whereas failing to make that final push to get voters to the polls may hasten your demise. 

While we recommend making GOTV a core element of your campaign plan and budget from the outset, there are plenty of ways to bolster your strategy in a cost-effective manner without hiring a mail consultant to get it done. Below are some in-house GOTV mail tactics any campaign can employ to mobilize supporters on or around Election Day.

Member or issue-specific appeals
Is your candidate a member of an organization (or have they ever been)? Did your candidate support a specific piece of legislation that helped a particular group in your community? Get a list of the members of any relevant community group or organization, run a mail merge, and send a personal letter or postcard to these folks. For example, if your candidate is an avid cyclist who played a big role in securing bike lanes for the community, write a quick note to members of a local cycling or other outdoors club to let them know that your candidate is on their side and counting on their support. You can potentially do this via email as well.

Door-to-door canvass postcards
Send a postcard as a final follow-up to the voters you’ve met at the doors. This can happen toward the very end of the campaign via first-class mail, or during the early vote period right after a canvass. Send out a last reminder to the folks you’ve talked to throughout your campaign to get them to turn out at the polls in your favor.

Post-phone call postcards 
Have your volunteers fill out postcards to send to the folks they talk to on the phone right after they hang up. This is an easy way to continue the relationship between the campaign and a voter after establishing contact. Sending these post-call cards during the early vote period and/or the week leading up to Election Day makes for a great last-minute reminder to voters that you’re on their side and worthy of their support.

Hand-delivered GOTV letters
Take a list of your strongest supporters (the 1s and the 2s you’ve identified) and have volunteers hand deliver them a letter the weekend before Election Day. You know these voters support your campaign, but it never hurts to remind them to actually turn out on your behalf. Good intentions and words of encouragement don’t count as votes if your supporters forget to make it to the polls on Election Day.

Neighbor-to-neighbor GOTV postcards
Relational organizing is a hot topic in politics, and rightfully so. The fact is, we’re much likelier to open a message from a friend or neighbor (and take their suggestions to heart) than we are to engage with a stranger about a candidate or an issue. This leads to a couple of opportunities for last-minute GOTV follow-up for campaigns:

•    Use a tool like Outreach Circle to leverage your supporters’ personal networks. Prompting your supporters to remind their friends and family in the area to vote can do a lot of good for your campaign in the final days. That said, this can’t be a last-minute addition to your campaign. 
•    As you identify strong supporters, have these folks share the first names of three friends who they’ll remind to vote. Keep careful track of this information, and send a postcard to that voter reminding them of the friends they pledged to reach out to close to Election Day.
•    Identify strong supporters in neighborhoods in your community and get them to write postcards to frequent voters who live nearby. Even if these folks don’t know each other personally, the neighborhood connection may be enough to get you more supporters at the polls. This takes planning and time, but it’s another cost-effective way to make a final GOTV push.

Social pressure
No matter the form of GOTV mail you’re sending, think about incorporating social pressure into your messaging. Make it clear to folks that voting is a social norm—all their neighbors are doing it and they should join them in exercising their civic duty. Keep it positive and uplifting, avoiding the harsher social pressure tactics that may lead to backlash. You can check out more tips on social pressure here.


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