Campaign Metrics: What Metrics Should You Be Tracking?
Bring Moneyball Campaign Metrics to Your Advocacy or Political Campaign
Whether it is your first or last advocacy or political campaign, one thing never changes—numbers matter. Learn what campaign metrics you need to track.
In 2008, Moneyball-style campaign metrics made it into the national political consciousness thanks to FiveThrityEight. But in the years since, campaign metrics and analysis have not been incorporated into smaller political campaigns as often as they could or should be. Setting goals and incorporating measurement of key performance indicators (KPI) are needed to run a winning campaign.
That said, you’ve also got to be able to analyze and interpret the information you gather in order to ensure it’s accurate and ultimately useful. As Will Robinson once said, “Don’t believe any number that ends in zero.” In other words, perfect numbers don’t exist in the real world, and you’re not going to find them in your political campaign. Understanding your numbers (and making sure they’re grounded in reality, even if it’s painful) will make the difference between winning and losing a campaign.
Important Campaign Metrics That Most Campaigns Track:
Vote Goal and Democratic Performance
Calculating your vote goal and your district’s Democratic performance is critical to your election (even in a non-partisan election). No campaign should operate without a real vote goal. It’s the basis for the rest of your strategic assumptions and your campaign metrics. having a vote goal forces you to answer questions like, “What will turnout be this year?” and “How much voter fall-off can I expect?”
How much money did you raise today? Every time I talk to my candidates I ask them this question. Fundraising is not something you can put off until next week or next month. If you put in the call time it will pay off, but you have to chip away at it. Setting clear daily and monthly goals will help to keep you and your campaign on track.
Daily Canvass Goal Vs Actual
Seeing daily canvas numbers are the only way to accurately know if a campaign has been doing the day-to-day work it needs to do in order to win. Again, it is extremely important to look at campaign metrics to judge progress on a daily and weekly basis to see where you are vs where your goals indicate you should be.
Number of Repeat Donors
Beyond saying I have x number of donors, I like campaigns to be able to tell me how many donors have given more than once. Here is why: re-solicitation is the lifeblood of a campaign, and it can be telling about the campaign. If donors have given more than once it is often a sign that a campaign has their shit together. If the number of donors is small and the repeat donors list is small, it’s likely folks are not that committed.
Campaign Metrics That Most Folks Don't Track but Should:
Knowing the number of historic drop-off voters is important for a few reasons—but mainly because it will tell you how much attention and communication you need to have with voters who are not super prime. The majority of fall-off will come from voters who don’t receive enough consistent communication. The more communication, the less fall-off you should see. In practical campaign terms, that means the more historic fall-off your district has, the more you will need to expand your walk universe and outreach beyond a super narrow universe.
Active Time at the Door/Time Per Contact (TPC)
TPC is not something most people track, but my hunch and is that it should be. There is likely a correlation between persuasion and connection, so if someone has a longer conversation, it will stick with the voter more. There are some studies that indicate the benefit of a long form canvas as well, but more work is needed to convert this approach into a political campaign or short-term advocacy campaign.
Tracking conversions for fundraising is a growing norm for us, but it is critical for campaigns of all varieties.
Active In-District Supporters
Donors plus volunteers, hard positive IDs and real action-takers (more than friending and following) can mean active supporters. How many of them do you have?
Overrated Numbers: Vanity Metrics:
Getting out and meeting voters is really important, but forums aren’t necessarily the best way to do that and in reality, they don't amount to much with respect to achieving your vote goal. My advice is to plan ahead and pick the forums you absolutely need to go to and avoid the ones you don't. Go knock on doors instead.
Number of Yard Signs
Saying you have 10,000-yard signs out will tell me you are not running a serious campaign. Remember, yard signs don’t vote.
Facebook Friends and Twitter Followers
I love social media and I think it is important, but having a whole lot of Facebook and Twitter followers mostly outside of your district will make me think that you again are not serious. A more actionable and pertinent campaign metric is knowing how many followers, are district residents and how many of them you have converted to a real action. That is something that can actually help you get to victory.
There is a lot of smoke and mirrors around fundraising. Pledges (and even money raised) play second fiddle to cash on hand. Pledges are only as good as the system you have for collecting them (plus, you’ll be hard-pressed to find vendors who take pledges as a form of payment). In the world of credit card transactions and online fundraising, if you are not turning pledges into actual cash quickly there is a high likelihood you won’t collect the money.
Determining who is truly a persuadable voter is more than a numeric calculation and is as much message and demographic, driven as anything. There are people who live in your district who typically split their ticket, but depending on your race, they may or may not be persuadable for you.
To learn more about campaign metrics and running a winning campaign, download our e-book, Jumpstart Your Political Campaign.