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How To Influence Swing Votes For Your Election Campaign

Published: Apr 29, 2022

We found some interesting statistics about swing voters in the U.S you should know about:

  • 30% of voters in the 2020 Presidential elections were people identified as swing voters.
  • 6.7 million people who voted for Trump in 2016 had previously voted for Barack Obama in 2012.
  • 2.7 million people who voted for Clinton said they voted for Mitt Romney in 2012.

These figures lead us to one conclusion – despite widespread political polarization, swing voters are real.

Swing voters are voters who have not made up their minds yet about which candidate or party to vote for. Before the elections, there is hope in persuading swing voters to vote for you. During the election, one never knows the direction in which the swing votes go. A significant determinant for swaying swing voters is how campaigns are promoted and how GOTV efforts are undertaken.

This article discusses strategies to influence and persuade swing voters to vote for you. We do it by studying the Trump and Biden campaigns, which successfully swayed swing voters in 2016 and 2020.

The Trump Campaign – 2016

Source: nbcnews

33% of voters who voted for Barack Obama in 2012 voted for Trump in 2016. Despite Obama’s successful runs in 2008 and 2012, how did the republican campaign win?

The answer lies in identifying a growing sense of displeasure amongst voters and mobilizing them to vote for Trump. Trump, who was popular as one of the least conservative Republicans in 2016 polls, represented the idea of change and ‘making America great again.’

Another resource in their arsenal was negative campaigning, with many feeling that the 2016 elections turned into an attack on the character of opposing candidates. 35% of ads run by the Trump campaign focused on negative campaigning against Hillary Clinton. His strategy heavily relied on creating a positive image for himself while attacking Clinton.

Read Also: Healthy Ways for Negative Campaigning (and How to Fight It!)

The Biden Campaign – 2020

Source: The Washington Post

The Biden campaign looked at their GOTV efforts as an educational mission – making voters aware of the issues that impact them and how their vote could improve their situation. So, how did they create an impactful campaign to sway swing voters? Amy Garland, in her article, explains – 

  1. They created a sense of urgency to vote every single day.
  2. Educated voters about deadlines and when to vote.
  3. Built trust by using credible voices to campaign for them.
  4. Worked with different media formats to reach a wide variety of audiences.
  5. They tested different strategies, implemented them quickly, and learned lessons from each strategy even quicker.
  6. Used influencers and celebrities in areas where they would create the highest impact.

The result? 22% of voters who voted for Trump in 2016 voted for Biden in 2020. Not only that, Joe Biden managed to win swing states Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin – all of which voted for Trump in 2016. 

The strategies used by both campaigns were highly influential in fetching them the results they had hoped for. Let’s study some mobilization strategies you can implement during your run for office.

Grassroots mobilization strategies for swing voters

Here are a few strategies you can implement to sway voters in your favor:

  • Make a list
  • Run an outreach campaign
  • Run paid ads
  • Speak at local community centers.
  • Leverage the power of local volunteers 

Let’s explore these strategies in detail.

Make a list

The first step you need to take is to get your database ready to go. Make a list of voters in your area and identify voters who have typically been swing voters. Make sure to also include first-time voters who you can persuade in your favor.

You can also clean your list and improve it by running phone campaigns and text surveys to get more information from the voters themselves.

Run an outreach campaign

Running a voter outreach campaign is a crucial step in engaging swing voters with your campaign. Here’s how you can reach out to your target audience:

  • Run a calling campaign: A calling campaign makes people aware of the policies you have proposed, informing them about the candidate and GOTV efforts. You can help voters get registered to vote or address any concerns they may have.
  • A text message campaign: Beautiful political campaign literature needs to be used in more ways than one. Share your campaign posters via MMS. You can also run an opt-in campaign so that supporters can enlist onto your messaging campaign for any updates.
  • Email newsletters: Send monthly newsletters asking for donations, talking about your campaign’s progress and policies that you have proposed. Emails are a great way to familiarize your candidate with voters.
  • Social media: Social media was the real MVP of the 2016 and 2020 elections. From Clinton to Sanders – voters enjoyed memes, short clips, reels, and more from each candidate. This further increased the popularity of all candidates.

Read Also: 4 Key Lessons in Digital Canvassing (From Real Campaigns!) 

Paid ads

Facebook advertisements have played a key role in helping elections. Run paid ads on different social media platforms about your candidates. You can run micro-targeted ad campaigns targeted explicitly toward swing voters.

Create voter personas using voter profiling and enter those metrics on different ad platforms. Your ads will reach relevant audiences and create a high impact in your outreach.

However, you must navigate compliance laws when running paid ads for political campaigns.

Read Also: Political Canvassing Laws Every Campaigner Must Know | CallHub 

Speak at local community centers

You can leverage the power of the local community events by speaking directly with your voters through them. Community centers are neutral zones where you can educate and inform voters about your run for office and your proposed policies.

You can even address any of the community’s concerns and ask their opinions about what they would like in the ideal candidate. 

Leverage the power of local volunteers

Local volunteers can be an influential force for swaying swing voters toward you. People are more likely to listen to someone they know than a stranger asking for their trust and vote.

Local volunteers can create a significant dent through door-to-door canvassing, phone canvassing, or even speaking to their family, friends, and neighbors about your candidate or party.

Read Also: 6 Persuasion Techniques Psychology Says Will Get the Most Out of Your Supporters 

These are strategies that you can begin implementing to influence swing voters and possibly win the elections.

What’s next?

Persuading swing voters is a task that needs you to put your best efforts forward. One way you can do this is by microtargeting swing voters.

Download our guide Political micro targeting guide to learn more. 

Featured Image Source: Sora Shimazaki


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