30,900 P2P Texts in Under a Minute: How The Kentucky Democratic Party Achieved the Impossible

Published on May 16, 2023

The Kentucky Democratic Party’ office is in a high rush in the last few days before elections. This final phase consists of high-volume phone banking, door knocking for GOTV, text campaigns, literature drops, transporting voters to and from polling stations, and just about anything to get as many supporters to cast their ballots.

Every second counts. It’s an all-hands-on-deck kind of situation.

But volunteers don’t turn up as expected. Some go back on their commitments. And campaign managers have neither the time nor the resources to recruit more folks to the team.

Yet, The Kentucky Democratic Party managed to send 30,900 texts in a minute in a hectic GOTV campaign during the 2022 General election.

They could also switch between communications channels seamlessly, getting voice broadcasts, calls, and emails into the mix without losing a precious minute or spending extra resources on training agents.

This is a case study of The Kentucky Democratic Party and CallHub— a match made in heaven for mobilizing supporters.

“I first heard about CallHub from a consultant who was using it for their own campaigns. I was immediately drawn to its ease of use and saw how it could benefit our own campaign. As we approached the critical GOTV period, we knew we needed to scale up our outreach efforts quickly, and CallHub was the perfect solution,” says Joshua Howerton, the Data Director at The Kentucky Democratic Party(formerly).”

Who are Kentucky Democrats? A brief introduction

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The Kentucky Democratic Party is the state affiliate of the National Democratic Party. 

They believe that by backing strong, principled, and passionate candidates, they can create a better Kentucky for everyone. And who wouldn’t want that?

But what exactly does it mean for the Kentucky Democratic Party to support a candidate? Well, it can mean a lot of things, but here are some examples:

  • Providing resources: They help candidates with fundraising and access to campaign infrastructure like voter databases and polling data.
  • Offering advice and guidance: Running for office can be a daunting task, but the Kentucky Democratic Party offers advice to candidates whenever necessary.
  • Connecting candidates with voters: They help candidates connect with voters in their communities and engage with them regularly.

Meet Joshua Howerton: The brains behind the numbers at the Kentucky Democratic Party

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Josh is the go-to guy in managing the party’s data systems and using them to inform campaign strategies. He wears many hats at the Kentucky Democratic Party. Not only does he manage the voter file and work with various data sources, but also helps with targeting, insights, and analytics for smaller campaigns that may not have the resources for dedicated staff. 

He collects and analyzes data from sources like voter files to

  • Develop targeted messaging and outreach strategies
  • Identify key voter groups 
  • Support candidate recruitment and voter mobilization.

Josh also works closely with party leaders and campaign staff to integrate data into the party’s operations, including fundraising, messaging, and voter outreach. He collaborates with field teams to ensure they collect data and utilize it effectively at the grassroots level.

Finally, he is the data steward, making sure campaigns follow the rules to avoid any mishaps.

6 solid ways Kentucky Democrats triumph in GOTV campaigns  

  • Used Fast P2P to dedicate volunteers’ time for actual conversations rather than mechanical jobs.
  • Duplicated successful campaigns to replicate results.
  • Diversified touchpoint channels for efficient outreach. 
  • Experimented with new communication channels like voice broadcasting on the same platform.
  • Reduced the administrative time burden of organizing volunteers.
  • Saved time and effort in last-minute event planning.

The decision to invest in CallHub was a no-brainer for us. We were able to reach more voters in less time, speeding up the calling process and making our program more efficient. Thanks to CallHub, we were able to make a real impact in our race and engage with voters on a scale.

Also, during a recent chat, someone mentioned some impressive features like fast P2P and [launching soon] AI. As someone who values tools that meet the unique needs of campaigns and state parties, I was intrigued. I even had the chance to do a demo and was blown away by all the capabilities it offers, including relational organizing,” says Josh.

Texting: How constituents talk today

“We’ve noticed a shift towards texting as a way to inform voters about changes to election laws in Kentucky. For example, we could use CallHub to inform voters that they can now access their Early Vote and E-Day polling locations online. This turned out to be a great way to make sure everyone knows where to go to cast their vote.”

Joshua Howerton

Reach 30,900 people in under a minute!

A 2020 study on engagement with political texts marked the average responsiveness between 4-18%. 

If 18 people reply for every 100 messages you send, agents are underutilized. However, traditional P2P requires more manpower just to hit send for higher throughput.

This at a time when campaigns are already understaffed with volunteers. Josh told CallHub that they had to contact 100 people to cover 10 full shifts. They had already spent time confirming, nudging and reminding people of the event. Now, things had to run fast but with limited agents.

callhub-the-kentucky-democratic-party-case-study-volunteer-recruitment

While we were trying to get volunteers on board, it wasn’t always easy. Using fast peer-to-peer texting, we could have more efficient and effective outreach without relying on a large pool of volunteers. 

We were able to train the few volunteers who did come forward and move them around campaigns, which was such a relief. It was super helpful to be able to duplicate the same script for different campaigns and make minor changes where necessary.

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Fast P2P is CallHub’s new feature in peer-to-peer texting, where campaigns can send the initial texts automatically. Your agents will dedicate their time to having meaningful conversations with people who reply to these texts. 

However, the benefits didn’t end there.

  • They could cut the training process short since agents need not send out initial texts.
  • The initial texts could go out in bulk (One time, we reached out to 30,900 voters, and it only took around 10 minutes to set everything up, then just a minute to get everything sent out. It was fantastic!” exclaims Josh.)
  • The team could save 80% of the time it would normally take to send initial texts.
callhub-the-kentucky-democratic-party-case-study-fast-p2p-results

“Unfortunately, we didn’t track the exact time savings from using Fast P2P compared to not using them, but we definitely felt the difference in the final 14 days of the election. 

We were able to focus on other important aspects of the campaign, such as volunteer recruitment and canvassing, knowing that our texting program was running smoothly and efficiently. 

It also allowed us to expand our outreach efforts to more voters without having to worry about being overwhelmed by the workload,” says Josh.

34,000 reminders for high voter turnout

Campaigns equip constituents with the right information to participate in elections. But when the day comes, getting people to the polls is crucial. Without that, everything else you fought for crumbles. In this last phase, simple nudges also work. 

“Sometimes, just providing the information can be enough to make a difference. After all, voting is a fundamental right, and anything we can do to make that process easier and more accessible is a win in our book,” says Josh.

Kentucky Democrats sent out 34,000 texts to ensure voters were reminded and ready to cast their ballots. 

The power of images: Why MMS is a must have

“One of the features that we love about CallHub is the ability to send MMS messages. By attaching an image, we can make our messages more engaging and eye-catching, which can be really helpful when it comes to getting people’s attention.

Of course, we know that carriers don’t always love MMS attachments, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, right? And in our experience, it’s been worth it. Using MMS messages, we’ve been able to communicate important information to voters, such as their polling locations and when polls are open,” says Josh.

Kentucky Democrats used MMS during GOTV campaigns. The images showed voters know their polling locations, day and time. 

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A high-quality contact list: The clean way to reach your constituents

“As the data director for the Kentucky Democratic Party, my job is to ensure that our voter file contains accurate and up-to-date information on all registered voters in the state.

To accomplish this, I collaborate with various sources, such as the State Board of Elections and the DNC, to gather data on voters. We also use a range of tools and techniques to analyze this data. 

One of the biggest challenges we face is obtaining phone numbers for the voters on our file. We work closely with the DNC and other organizations to append phone numbers and other missing data points. This requires a lot of coordination and communication between different teams, but it’s essential for our outreach efforts,” says Josh.

Replicating success across districts 

Kentucky Democrats like to play on their strengths during high risk, higher value P2P texting campaigns. So when they know that a script, workflow and overall strategy is working wonders in one district, they replicate it in other campaigns with the same requirements.

Our “Duplicate” button helps them do that with one click.

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Josh explains, “Campaign replication was a real game-changer for us, especially when we had similar campaigns running in different districts. Take, for instance, the Louisville campaign. It was a huge success, and we wanted to replicate it for the Kentucky Young Democrats. We contacted around 6600 voters and had 217 conversations.” 

The “Duplicate” button maintains the sameYou add new or change
ScriptCampaign name
ScheduleContact list
TagsPhone number to send text messages
Callback/retry attempts and time between attempts
Assigned agents
callhub-the-kentucky-democratic-party-case-study-campaign-duplication-details

The duplicate button is available on the campaigns’ list section and on campaign analytics section. It’s a one-window-4-fields operation that saved Josh a huge chunk of time that would otherwise be wasted in adding fields identical to another campaign.

“This came in handy during the final days before the election for Get Out The Vote efforts. We had a texting campaign for a few targeted candidates, and being able to replicate it for different campaigns was a time saver,” he adds.

How transparency saved Kentucky Democrats’ text campaigns

A2P texting campaigns run on several external factors that campaigners or CallHub have no control over. Carrier-level filtering, for example.

While it is understandably frustrating to see lower throughput or delivery rates when a high-value campaign is on, CallHub maintains transparency with customers and provides solutions or alternatives. One of our core values, after all, is Openness and Trust. And we stand firmly with bias towards action.  

It wasn’t a completely smooth ride for Kentucky Democrats either. “Take our recent text campaign for the special election, for example. We hit a snag when TCR started limiting our messages. But because we had transparency into what was going on, we were able to quickly pinpoint the issue and come up with a solution,” Josh says.

CallHub was quick on its feet to report the issue to Josh. 

Here’s what had happened: Josh’s texts were labeled 40018 and 40008. The first one occurs when a brand goes over the sending limit set by carriers, while the second one can happen for a few different reasons. 

In this case, there were a few possibilities: 

  1. The file size of MMS was too big for the carriers to handle.
  2. Josh was sending messages at a faster rate than what carriers allow. 
  3. His number wasn’t configured properly for 10DLC. 

How did we resolve this?

We reconfigured the 10DLC numbers and adjusted the MMS sending rate in the system to make sure it stayed under 50 texts per minute, which is the limit for most carriers.

Josh explains, “When we have the data we need, we can quickly identify and troubleshoot any issues that come up. CallHub even stopped campaigns automatically to prevent any further problems when we exceeded the carrier limits.

CallHub offers automated error detection and campaign pausing to help you quickly identify and resolve any issues. We:

  • Show a notification on your account’s dashboard when your delivery rates dip below a certain percentage.
  • Automatically pause your campaigns to ensure no more messages end up with errors.

And when you need extra assistance, our Support team is always ready to swoop in. 

“It’s not about being perfect; it’s about being responsive and adaptable. And that’s what CallHub is all about!” Thank you Josh!

The importance of adapting your communication strategy

Texting has proven its success in the political and advocacy industry in general but also for Kentucky Democrats, specifically. With these results tucked safely, Josh could experiment with another communication method in the last elections. Voice broadcasting.

For this use case, Josh only had to send out a message and was expecting neither responses nor two-way communication. They also had a celebrity appeal to increase their chance of success!

“Our mission was to get out the vote and encourage early voting, and we had the perfect tool for the job. We had a pre-recorded message from Congressman Yarmuth himself!” he says.

Josh could upload the pre-recorded message on CallHub, select the contact list and schedule the campaign right before the elections. It was an experiment, and things could have faltered especially with the reputation that voice broadcasts (or robocalls) have received. But Josh wanted to try out a communication tool that reaches people fast and with a voice on the other end.

“It was a GOTV campaign to encourage early voting, and the response was incredible. It’s always exciting to try something new and see the results, and this was definitely one of those moments,” he tells CallHub. 

The switch between texting and voice broadcasting also brings a crucial point at the forefront—the importance of diversifying your outreach channels to maximize results. The fact that CallHub offers P2P texting, text broadcasts, voice broadcast (among call center tools and emails) under one roof helped Josh experiment effortlessly. He need not go through discovery, learning curves, merging data and approvals to test out a different channel right in the middle of an election.  

“Because we can switch between channels so easily, we can make sure our messages are getting through to people who need to hear them. We’re not just relying on one method of communication – we’re using every tool at our disposal to get the message out there,” says Josh.

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Understanding Josh’s choice to partner with CallHub

Josh is a skilled data analyst and is constantly seeking out new tools and methods to improve the party’s data management and analysis capabilities. And, just as importantly, he’s committed to making sure that the party’s data systems are secure and comply with all relevant privacy laws and regulations.

That’s how we came in.

Josh’s initial perception of CallHub and the criteria for choosing us

“It’s always exciting when you discover a new tool that can help streamline and improve your campaigns. In this case, the introduction of CallHub to the team was a game-changer. We had been facing capacity issues and wanted to prioritize knocking on as many doors as needed. That’s when we turned to CallHub, which allowed us to reach out to voters quickly and efficiently using their texting and dialer systems.

I first heard about CallHub from a consultant who was using it for their own campaigns. I was immediately drawn to its ease of use and saw how it could benefit our own campaign. As we approached the critical GOTV period, we knew we needed to scale up our outreach efforts quickly, and CallHub was the perfect solution.

The decision to invest in CallHub was a no-brainer for us. We were able to reach more voters in less time, speeding up the calling process and making our program more efficient. Thanks to CallHub, we were able to make a real impact in our race and engage with voters on a scale.

Also, during a recent chat, someone mentioned some impressive features like fast P2P and AI. As someone who values tools that meet the unique needs of campaigns and state parties, I was intrigued. I even had the chance to do a demo and was blown away by all the capabilities it offers, including relational organizing,” says Josh.

We love working with you, Josh and here’s to our continued partnership for years to come!

Effortless communication for your campaigns

It’s true; organizing a successful campaign can be a logistical nightmare, especially with limited resources. The struggle to get everything together in time and coordinate with vendors can feel like an uphill battle. But CallHub has you covered.

We’re here to make things easier, more streamlined, and more effective. We’ll help you reach your voters and track your progress – without fuss and frustration.

Because we understand, campaigning is hard enough as it is. You shouldn’t have to spend tedious hours dealing with complicated technology and unresponsive vendors. You should be out there, talking to voters, making connections, and winning hearts and minds.

We’ve got the tools, expertise, and passion to get you across the finish line. 

Make communication effortless – Get started with CallHub now.