There is nothing sadder in all of politics than to see a well-organized and well-run campaign fail because it let get out the vote activities fall through the cracks. Worse still are those campaigns that think that they have so much support from the public they don’t need to work hard on Election Day to get out the vote. Nothing could be further from the truth. Every single candidate and campaign manager should have this sentence printed on a plaque hanging on his or her wall: An organized get out the vote operation is integral to the success of EVERY campaign.
What is Get Out the Vote?
Get out the vote operations (sometimes called GOTV) are those activities that the campaign performs to turn voters out on Election Day – those tactics and strategies the campaign will use to get supporters to get up, go out, and vote on Election Day.
Get out the vote campaigns need to be targeted – that is, you need to make sure you are getting your supporters, and only your supporters, to go to the polls. GOTV operations are a waste if you are trying to move ALL voters to the polls, including your opponents’. Simply put, every campaign, whether it is for the city council or for president, can and should implement a get out the vote effort.
The goal of your get out the vote campaign is to identify who your supporters are, and get as many of them as possible to actually go vote. The GOTV team is not responsible for persuading people to support your candidate – that is the job of the rest of your campaign structure. The get out the vote campaign need only identify who has ALREADY been persuaded to support your candidate, and then motivate those supporters to go vote.
Your GOTV effort should set a goal of ensuring that at least 10% of the voters you need to win the election actually go vote. For example, if your campaign has looked at past election figures and realized that it needed 5000 votes to win the election, your GOTV goal would be to make sure that 500 known supporters make it to the polls on Election Day.
Get out the vote campaigns take lots of time and effort – but they are worth it. Your campaign’s plan to turn out its supporters can be the difference between victory and defeat.