The mission of Courage Campaign's California Counts initiative was to deliver a compelling platform to activate all Californians in target districts with vulnerable Republican incumbents for the 2018 midterm elections. The campaign also sought to engage Courage Campaign’s nationwide membership. Their support counted toward 2018 midterm victories for progressives in California, whose seats would hopefully help us win back the House. Our messaging focused on the values and stories of constituents in target districts who weren’t represented by Republicans, while also providing clear facts on the disastrous records of the villains we worked to defeat.

Building a Home for the Resistance

When Revolution Messaging set about designing the California Counts website, we had one simple goal: to educate visitors on why California was a crucial state in the 2018 election through a colorful, dynamic web experience. The site was designed to showcase information about the seven important California districts through content that was both impactful and educational.

We worked closely with Courage Campaign to produce content for the site, including stories, video, and photography that featured real people affected by the current administration’s policies, especially by issues of immigration, racism and LGBTQ+ rights. We focused on districts with a strong disconnect between the representative’s voting record and the opinions of their constituents, as reflected in the 2016 election. We sought to shine a light on the negative players involved while adding a human and hopeful perspective on the desired outcome. While the site was constructed primarily to establish an emotional connection with the viewer, it was full of ways to get involved with the California Counts efforts. Rather than overwhelming our audience with asks for donations, we aimed to emphasize the potential for useful actions like registering to vote and sharing personal stories. Ultimately, the website’s branding was designed to break through the clutter of previous similar initiatives to establish California Counts as the leader in the fight to win back the house in 2018.

Inspiring Action on Social Media

Our social media strategy centered around educating our audience using hard-hitting statistics, personal stories and branded graphics. We branded this content with #CaliforniaCounts. #CaliforniaCounts was intended to create a set of affirmative messages to empower California voters in perpetuity. We chose this approach so that the campaign would have longevity after the current election cycle and remain an optimistic frame for future issues.

Our video team created several videos for California Counts. As the goal for this campaign was to inspire people to use their vote to make change, we decided that the videos should be a series of personal stories which represented a variety of compelling reasons Californians had for voting. These videos were designed to showcase people experiencing real emotions and issues as a direct result of poor representation from California GOP senators.

In order to educate our audience on social media about the importance of this mission, we knew that California Counts needed to utilize the power of social graphics. Our graphics team set to work creating clean, branded GIFs and images that were both informative and eye-catching. Stylistically, these graphics were modeled on the look and feel of the California Counts website.

The team also created a series of infographics based on polling data from California’s district voters. One series highlighted data from the key districts in order to show just how out of step Republican representatives were with their constituents. Another focused on the laws and initiatives that Republican representatives were supporting to the detriment of their constituents. A final series featured local activists from all backgrounds in each district. With each graphic, we encouraged the audience to consider the vast difference between their opinions and their representatives’ voting records. These graphics were designed to convey the grassroots, diverse and urgent nature of this campaign.

Voter Mobilization with Texts

Using social media and the California Counts website, we promoted a shortcode for this campaign in order to build its mobile list. Growing this list allowed us another opportunity to engage with supporters and encourage them to show up at the polls. We heavily promoted the shortcode right before the primary to take advantage of the list and mobilize as many voters as possible. When people joined the list, they were instructed to enter their zipcode in order to receive information about their voting location. The polling locator was a great success on social media because it gave people a concrete action to take around primary day. The keyword and shortcode were shared on social media and helped more than 6,700 people find their polling locations.