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MSEA Digital Endorsement Hub Returns for 2016

Downballot website helped to elect 71% of endorsed candidates in 2014

 

By Rob Swanger

In March, Revolution Messaging and the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) announced the re-launch of MDAppleBallot.com, a digital candidate endorsement hub, updated and rebranded for the 2016 election cycle.

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Since its first iteration, MDAppleBallot.com has been a special project. It illustrates that while we take pride in innovation, we also believe in sticking with what works. Sometimes that means improving an outdated method rather than replacing it.

Traditionally, MSEA distributed paper ballots to promote education-friendly candidates. The apple ballots were popular with MSEA members, but for the 2014 election cycle, the group wanted a modernized and more strategic endorsement campaign. Our solution was to replace ink and paper with an interactive website. The result was the award-winning MDAppleBallot.com.

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The 2014 project demanded a unique blend of design, development and data management. The website featured a zip code lookup for individuals to discover educator-endorsed candidates in their area and a sign up to receive reminders closer to Election Day or to volunteer.

We developed a full campaign strategy to promote the website, including a media plan and creative for online display, video and mobile. The advertising message urged members to vote for local political candidates who would support the association’s goals.

The site also became the central landing page for videos, ads, direct mail and SMS communications. Thirty-three percent of visitors retrieved their apple ballot, and unique source codes were given to county education associations to track traffic. Digital ads targeted likely supporters of key candidates and saw an excellent clickthrough rate of 1.27 percent in more than 18 different races.

MDAppleBallot.com contributed to the success of MSEA-endorsed candidates, driving votes despite a wave Democratic defeats all over the country. Eighty-six percent of MSEA-endorsed candidates won in the June primary, and 71 percent of endorsed candidates won in the November 2014 election.

With threats to public education stronger than ever, we’re looking forward to seeing MDAppleBallot.com in action for 2016.

Ask us about how digital endorsement technology can help drive votes for your downballot races.


Texting for Justice in Ferguson

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In early September, we were asked to help the St. Louis metro area movement for justice for Mike Brown and other victims of police brutality, profiling and murder. The movement was organizing quickly and needed to communicate with a large number of activists quickly and reliably; in short, this is exactly the kind of movement that needed SMS messaging – texting.

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An hour later, the mobile program was up and running, with subscribers opting in via web form, face-to-face canvassing and by texting the keyword HANDSUP to 90975. A few weeks later, this small program grew to a list of thousands of activists in the Saint Louis area as well as distribution of press releases to a specialized segment of reporters.

The movement’s weekend of resistance began October 10th: marches, acts of civil disobedience and protest occurred all over the metro area. The SMS list directed activists to key locations, bringing the message to political fundraising events, well-trafficked commercial areas, and to Rams fans gathered for Monday Night Football.

The justice movement continues, and we are dedicated to continuing the momentum onward.
For more info on how you can get involved visit: http://fergusonoctober.com/


High Voter Turnout Among Concert Goers

Finding locations and events that supply visibility and plenty of opportunity to reach new voters on an extensive scale is key to carrying out a successful registration effort. Approaching folks at the usual candidate support rallies and debate watch parties are useful methods, but entertaining and exciting happenings attract a diverse constituency offering the ability to organize around people’s own individual interests. Head Count is one such organization leading the charge to improving voter registration efforts using the power of music. In their recent study, Head Count concluded that 72% of people registered at concerts voted. An impressive statistic!


The Obama New Media Operation

A great, and very detailed, report on Obama for America’s New Media operation. Definitely take some time to read it. Here is a small piece from their conclusions:

The Obama for America campaign took place at a unique moment in history and achieved unparalleled success online. Since that time, the context of online organizing has continued to change. Much of the campaign took place before the worst of the economic downturn, and the climate for all fundraising has since become much more challenging. And in the past six months, we’ve seen social networks like Twitter continue to explode, and others, like Facebook, make their tools much more accessible for nonprofits. So, although much can be learned from OFA’s successes (and failures), what was true for the Obama campaign six to 12 months ago simply may not be true today.

As you consider this report’s findings, please also bear in mind that our report focused more deeply on online fundraising results because those were so significant, visible and relatively easy to track. However, many of these tactics can be applied to other organizational initiatives, ranging from advocacy to public education to volunteer engagement.