Digital organizing is one of the most effective ways to reach out to voters, especially younger generations. Through social media, phone calls, and texting campaigns, progressive campaigns can harness the power of technology to reach more people than ever before. Meeting voters where they are is essential for successful campaigns – and in a digital world, they’re likely on their phones.
Peer-to-peer texting is a great way to reach out to voters before an election, and progressive campaigns have been at the forefront of successful peer-to-peer texting campaigns for years. Let’s dive into five impactful examples of peer-to-peer texting, ranging from local campaigns to national movements:
1. When We All Vote registers over 400,000 voters
Michelle Obama’s GOTV-focused nonprofit sought to close the race and age gap in voter turnout by registering historically underrepresented voters in preparation for the 2020 presidential election. While the nonprofit had used traditional voter registration tactics (like door knocking and phone banking) ahead of the 2018 midterms, they realized that their work would have to effectively shift online due to the pandemic. When We All Vote rose to the challenge; instead of seeing the nationwide stay-at-home mandate as an obstacle, they used the power of digital organizing to reach more voters than ever before.
Organizers from When We All Vote planned an event called #CouchParty, a virtual grassroots event that allowed volunteers to come together online and contact eligible voters from their own homes. With thousands of volunteers joining from across the country, When We All Vote leveraged Impactive’s personalized Peer-to-Peer Texting and Friends and Family Messaging tools to text hundreds of thousands of eligible voters. The efforts of the thousands of #CouchParty attendees paid off: they registered over 400,000 voters in just a few hours.
2. SEIU fights for workers down the ballot
In 2020, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) was determined to mobilize and elect candidates that supported labor rights up and down the ballot. The pandemic posed the challenge of reaching as many voters as possible leading up to the election, but SEIU managed to reach millions of voters from numerous industries to get out the vote on both a national and local scale.
Using Impactive’s all-in-one organizing toolkit, SEIU used peer-to-peer messaging alongside Social Media Amplification to jumpstart their digital presence and encourage voters to show up on election day. SEIU ultimately reached out to almost 10 million voters with direct messaging.
3. Tina Smith wins Senate re-election with young voters
In 2020, Senator Tina Smith’s re-election campaign harnessed the power of peer-to-peer texting to win her race by almost 200,000 votes. This success highlighted the importance of streamlining peer-to-peer canvassing efforts, especially to get out the vote while volunteers were at home.
To boost turnout, the Smith campaign effectively used impactful texting strategies to reach as many voters as possible. Volunteers used relational messaging to send personalized messages about voting by mail, early, or in person on Election Day. In fact, they even used messaging tools to get the word out about important voting information alongside registration efforts. In the end, the Smith campaign’s texting efforts led the Senator to re-election by a margin of about 200,000 votes.
4. Erik Bottcher mobilizes west Manhattan
The Friends of Erik Bottcher campaign realized early on that forming personal relationships with community members was the best way to mobilize voters. The campaign decided to leverage relational organizing alongside peer-to-peer texting to spread the message about Bottcher’s campaign.
The Bottcher campaign successfully used these messaging tactics to focus on close and consistent voter interaction. Throughout the campaign, volunteers sent birthday messages to contacts or started conversations about Erik among supporters to make sure voters remembered him. Their tactics worked: Bottcher was successfully elected to NYC’s City Council District 3.
5. McCready for Congress builds a progressive organizing blueprint
Although North Carolina’s 9th congressional district had been historically Republican since the 1960s, veteran Dan McCready ran an inspiring campaign for Congress in a September 2019 special election. The McCready campaign rose to the challenges of both running in a deeply red state and during an off-cycle year – and their efforts certainly made a splash.
With just months until Election Day, the McCready campaign harnessed peer-to-peer messaging for both campaign fundraising and voter engagement. Campaign organizers texted contacts to fundraise when urgent news broke out and foster volunteer-voter relationships throughout the election season. The McCready campaign ultimately sent over 750,000 messages as part of the get-out-the-vote efforts. While Dan McCready ultimately wasn’t elected, the campaign’s grassroots work to connect with community members is a blueprint for voter outreach through digital organizing.
As digital organizing becomes a more prominent method to get out the vote, progressive campaigns can use the power of peer-to-peer texting to reach as many voters as possible, both locally and nationally. When volunteers come together and harness the power of community, they can elect Democratic and progressive candidates to create change.