Activism Modeled on Get-Out-the-Vote Efforts

Over the last week, campaigns and other organizations have been using a myriad of tactics to encourage you to vote. From post-apocalyptic web videos to bulk mail, everyone is trying to get their supporters to the polls.

According to a recent New York Times Magazine article on the social science of voting, you may have received a mailer with your recent vote history or a short thank you note for voting–before election day. Oddities aside, the article underlines how important volunteers are for motivating people to vote.

These tactics can translate to effective post-election activism. As Members of Congress return to Washington, we will be calling on conservatives like you to hold them accountable.

Influencing Congress can be similar to influencing elections. Here’s how:

  1. Make phone calls. Nudge the Vote, the New York Times piece on the social science of voting underlines what campaign veterans know: “It is better to have an anonymous, chatty volunteer remind voters it’s Election Day than a recorded message from Bill Clinton or Jay-Z.” Hearing from a real person that cares about an issue is worth more than a robo-call and much more than an email. Sacrificing time to make calls shows that the issue is important.
  2. Talk to your friends. New electoral science shows that the most winnable voters could be supporters of the other side that aren’t fully committed. In other words, the people you should focus on recruiting are not the people that are ‘undecided’ (unlikely to do anything), but the people that oppose you but aren’t certain why. This means that talking about conservative values and policies could win the best converts–people that take politics seriously and will act. So if there’s a discussion going on, pipe up, you could bring new people into the fold.
  3. Plan to act–out loud. The psychological concept “implementation intentions” says that people are more likely to do something if they have thought about it beforehand. Campaigns are now running survey-esque calls that ask voters at what time of day they plan to vote and other logistical questions. These calls drive turnout at the polls because people think about actually going to vote. Collaborating on your activism plans with your conservative friends means that they all are more likely to follow through.

The latest research underscores what we always have known: activists are a powerful force in politics, and with the right tactics, you can be the difference between winning and losing.

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