Who are we writing to?
We only write to Democratic voters.
Why do you mail the postcards so early? In our modern, hectic world aren’t you afraid people will forget?
The postcards arriving create buzz. They are conversation starters. This “guerrilla marketing” works and the more time people have to talk to each other and share their postcards, the more ripples are created.
One of the strengths our postcarding model provides is the simplicity of writing and mailing immediately instead of different timings for different candidates. It can become confusing to the thousands of different people writing and extended groups from postcard parties if each candidate might have different mailing instructions. We will always operate on the write and mail within 3 days of assignment model. Managing such a large network of distributed volunteers, you come to appreciate how fragile the whole thing is if you tinker with the wrong elements. Like a real-life 20-story tall Jenga tower.
Any volunteer who wishes to mail their cards closer to an election date can delay their request for addresses. However, there is always a chance we might run out of addresses for a particular candidate. But, we appreciate everyone following the tried and true practice we’ve exercised for over 50 campaigns since March 2017.
How are candidates chosen that postcards are written for?
Well, there’s quite a bit more that goes into our candidate choices than random selection. But, even through 50 announced postcard campaigns, there is still a lot of variability that goes into it.
Timing matters. If we are not otherwise committed, it can be a matter of chance. A “small” local campaign with a deserving progressive can (and has) lucked their way into our program because of good timing.
Adding up the pros and cons. When faced with two or more great choices, Tony has to fairly weigh multiple factors. Can we write the number of cards needed to reasonably influence the election across a tipping point? Since postcards are just one component of the whole GOTV program, how capable do they seem of executing a strong ground game? Are there any restrictions or demands being made that could impact volunteer interest? These are just a few considerations to stack up.
Each candidate represents a different opportunity. Their background, qualifications, what they bring to the campaign, special communities and constituencies they represent, the office being sought, the state they’re in, and so on. It’s impossible to create a one-size-fits-all formula. With 25+ years of campaign involvement and activism, grassroots organizing and business process management, Tony tries to make the right choices. He also takes the responsibility seriously to engage the most deserving and meaningful campaigns for you when we have available capacity.
How do you get lists of addresses?
It depends on the contest, the campaign, and the circumstances. Voter registration data is available upon request from every U.S. state elections authority as well as from every U.S. county that administers elections. This data is what Democratic state and county parties use to cultivate their databases. These databases are then made available to Democratic campaigns.
Postcards to Voters uses voter registration data that is originally created, maintained, updated, and furnished by the state and county elections authorities. Sometimes, the data comes directly from them. Sometimes, it comes from a state or county Democratic party or a campaign committee. But, in most every case with fewer than a handful of exceptions, it comes directly from the campaign.
Is there any evidence to indicate that mail-based campaigns make a real difference at the ballot box?
There is little solid evidence about the relative effectiveness of any kind of GOTV campaigning (phone banking, advertising, door-knocking, etc.). This Yale University study concludes that “personalized methods and messages work better. Across a number of mobilization experiments, one consistent finding is that more personalized messages are more effective in mobilizing voters.”
Will we be writing for candidate So-and-So?
We no longer announce our campaign line-up in advance. It’s a distraction that can adversely impact postcard-writing production for other candidates earlier on the calendar. It’s a competitive disadvantage for the campaign to let the opposition know so early about such a specific GOTV plan. Conditions change frequently with campaigns meaning a “no” one week can turn into a “yes” another week and vice versa. If we are finding “obscure” city council and school board elections, we most certainly know about the campaigns that are on the national radar.
It does not help our relationship with a campaign where we might be hoping they will eventually consider working with us to tell volunteers that the campaign has said “no” to us. From past experience, setting loose a bunch of angry, upset, confused, and/or pleading volunteers onto a campaign more concerned with conventional GOTV tactics is not a good way to make friends for Postcards To Voters. These campaign staffers move on to other campaigns in the future. If they have a bad experience with us just during the pitch and consideration phase, we will likely have lost them forever.
So, we don’t confirm or deny any future candidate/campaign lineups. We ask for your patient understanding for all the reasons explained. And we hope we have earned your trust in our process and candidate selection. Rule of thumb: If you heard about the candidate on MSNBC, we have already heard about it and have approached the campaign with a proposal.