Voter Contact – More than Just Field
In political circles, voter contact is not just when a candidate shows up at your door or an idealistic young volunteer calls you up. A “voter contact” also includes when a voter gets one of your direct mail pieces, sees your ad on television or hears you on the radio.
When a consultant is talking the need to have multiple voter contacts, they don’t mean obsessively calling the voter up, over and over (though there is an element of that) – they mean multiple contacts over multiple media: a phone call, a knock at the door, several pieces of mail, and your ad playing on cable in their zip code (hopefully during a television they like to watch).
It is possible to have a long, philosophical argument over whether paid phones are a form of paid media or field (political campaigning, as a profession, is not immune from a certain amount of balkanization). As a rule, I would put them into the field column, but I will give my thoughts on them.
Live phone calls, wherein you hire a phone vendor who has a boiler room somewhere an underpaid college students make calls, using a script you provide and deliver message, often ending with some question gauging the voter’s level of support (or lack thereof). You can skip the ending question to shave a huge percentage of the per call costs, but you also lose the opportunity add important data (like if someone is going to vote for you – very important to know, if possible) and you lose a lot of the value of the whole process.
Robo-calls are what you do when you can’t afford anything else. I won’t lie – I’ve used robo-calls, which is to say, I’ve been broke. I can even recommend a very good vendor, if you like. But robo-calls really don’t do a lot of good. They have only value – they are a cheap way to GOTV voters who are already on your side. They are not just a bad way to get across a persuasion message (in other words, trying convince an undecided voter), they are borderline useless. If someone recommends using robo-calls when are you are not so broke that you don’t have bucket to piss in, you should ignore that person. Forever. Seriously – because they have no idea what they are talking about. They probably ate paint chips as child.