How to Run for Office: Using Social Pressure

You should be having conversations with voters. Photo credit

All the Cool Kids are Doing It

When you hear the term “Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV),” most people think of massive volunteer operations pushing people to the polls on behalf of a certain candidate. It’s fast-paced, data-driven, and often referred to as a political operatives favorite time of year. But what a lot of people don’t know is that effective GOTV programs require specific language, targeting, and follow-through.

At the NDTC, we want our candidates to run effective, data-driven campaigns, which means developing a GOTV program that targets the right voters with the right ask. We want to ensure that each and every conversation we have with a voter is meaningful and is going to increase that person’s propensity to vote. So how do we do this? You want to focus on applying social pressure.

When most people think of social pressure, they think of their high school days when “all the cool kids” were getting in trouble and you were forced to either disengage or partake. But what we often overlook is that sometimes, social pressure can be a good thing.

When talking to voters during GOTV, it is crucial that your script emphasizes the significance of the race and that every vote counts.

Contrary to popular opinion, rather than making a voter feel like there is going to be low turnout and therefore their vote is critical, research shows that emphasizing high turnout better incentivizes voters. By using language such as “I’ve been talking to our neighbors, and everyone is voting” you are able to energize voters around the importance of turning out.

At the end of the day, remember — voters are people. Which means, they want to feel like they are part of something important, and that they are contributing to the greater good. Incorporating social pressure language into your script is how you do this.

For example, highlighting someone’s voting history is a proven way to encourage turnout. Since voting records are public, you should engage in GOTV conversations such as “official records show that you are a regular voter — thank you for being a reliable voter.” Though it may seem awkward — by reminding voters of their important past behavior, you are more likely to see the result you want.

Convincing voters to get out and vote isn’t rocket science — but rather it is about getting comfortable using strategic, research-based language to motivate voters. We are confident that your organization can employ these tactics effectively to run a winning campaign. And remember, as with any of our lessons we’ve got your back!

Want more GOTV training? Take our GOTV course.

Tomorrow, crafting your GOTV script.

How to Run for Office: Using Social Pressure was originally published in National Democratic Training Committee on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
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