In 2008, Obama debuted the campaign slogan “Yes We Can” to great effect. From the adoring crowds chanting it at rallies, it was clear that this was a message that really resonated with his audience. 

Why was it so effective?

The slogan appealed to personal responsibility. It asked of supporters to stop waiting for change to happen and instead be proponents of it. It served as inspiration for people to get involved in the campaign and make a difference. And it was uniquely suited to his base.

That’s not to say that a similar campaign message wouldn’t work for you. But finding the right messaging involves getting the measure of your audience and finding what would work for them.

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The decision-making process of a voter is tied with their perception and desires. It is often not a logical path of judgment, but rather guided by their impression of a candidate. Naturally, your campaign has to use that to create a candidate profile that appeals to voters.

This is done through the use of voter communication material like speeches, literature, mail and texts addressed to the voter. All these communication methods have to stick to a single message.

This article will talk about creating a resonant campaign message, testing it within and outside your voter base, and delivering it across channels (like text messaging).

What makes a good political campaign message?

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Campaign messages have always reflected the times. The way to create a political campaign message the plays into the voter’s perceptions and helps them choose your candidate is to make it relevant and appealing to their core human values and needs. Those values and needs being:

  • Security from human (crime, terrorism) and natural elements (global warming, environmental destruction)
  • State of living and healthcare
  • Financial safety – Job security, retirement fund, education cost
  • Morality – How honorable are the leaders in society? Is the state headed down a justifiable track?
  • Upcoming generation’s prospects related to education and jobs

Sure you want to discuss a particular policy change or an issue that has an impact on the community. However, you have to tie the issue to the human values triggered because of it.

This way you draw the voter’s attention by showing that you care about the same things that they do.

The campaign message is not just about stating why the candidate is better than the opponent. The voter does not objectively make comparisons to choose who to vote for. Instead, you have to show that you share their values, want to solve issues that affect these values and are qualified to do so through experience and ideology.

If running for re-election, you will need to shift the focus of your messaging to the progress made in the previous term and the need to continue that momentum.

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Develop your campaign message

Now that you understand what a political campaign message should incorporate, you are ready to develop one for your next campaign. 

Let’s go through the initial steps to figuring out the messaging suitable for the supporters you aim to draw in:

Learn the demographic majority

Go through census data, past voter records and voter lists of previous candidates. 

From the compiled data, you have to learn what you can about the demographic makeup of your electorate, including age, gender, occupation, race, home-ownership, party registration, and past voting history. 

Out of this, create a persona of the ideal voter who would align with your stance on issues.

Learn their issues and interests

You have to figure out what the issues and interests of the average target voters are. If you don’t already have an idea of what issues matter to your voters, this could take a while.

Place yourself among the voters in meetings and talk with them directly. Alternatively, you could conduct a benchmark poll to discover what these voters care about. The poll results and the demographic data together would show you the areas you need to target based on aligned interest.

Tell them what you would do

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The messaging should address what you are going to do to bring about positive change as it relates to voters. 

It has to persuade the voter, not just educate them with new information. The voter cares less about you than what you are going to do for them. If the message does not tell them that, it will fail to grab their attention.

Draw contrasts with the opponent

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Finally, remember that the race is against your opponent who would be pushing their own message at the same voter. So you need to place yourself against the opponent in such a way that makes you the obvious choice. 

The campaign message has to position your strengths against the opponent’s weaknesses. 

Take these points into account when doing so:

  • The candidate’s virtues and flaws including experience integrity, compassion and stability
  • Ideology and political alignment
  • The current condition and philosophy like change vs status quo, reform vs old principles etc.

Through all of this, you can decide on a campaign message which is perfect to address your ideal voter. 

The campaign message is what you offer the voter to position your candidacy. It is the reason that you present to choose you over the opponent. Consult with the right people and choose a message which makes the decision-making process easier for the voter. That way, you can win over more supporters and be on your way for a win.

Test your messaging

It’s a good idea to make sure your messaging works in the early stages of your campaign.  

You can do that through qualitative and quantitative testing.

You can conduct quantitative tests through opinion polls to find the hard numbers on how your messaging is doing. One great way to do that among your supporters is through political phone surveys, to understand supporter behavior around specific issues.

Another way to do it is by sending out peer-to-peer text messages with quick polls to supporters.

“What did you think of the Senator’s performance at last night’s debate? Respond with Yay or Nay to let us know.“

By recording these responses on your CRM software, you can get a quantitative view of the effectiveness of your messaging.

Try out text messages for polling today with CallHub:

Qualitative testing is as simple as judging the reaction of a crowd at a rally when you debut a message, or asking them questions after a town hall.

It involves taking a step further in finding out what drives supporters towards a message and asking them more specific questions.

Stay on the message

Make sure voters have a clear idea of the core message of your campaign. Your campaign communication strategy is all about steering important discussions toward the message. Every communication your campaign has with a voter has to anchor in the message. 

The way to get voters to instantly recognize your message and associate it with your candidate is by constantly reminding them what it is.

Voters will forget what a candidate says in a speech. They will not recall specific policies or the candidate’s background and the way they all tie together. They will, however, remember how you made them feel.

Stay on your voters minds

Your campaign ads, press releases, mail and text messages that you send directly to the voters should remind them of the campaign message and how it connects to their personal values. 

Over time, they would build an instinctive connection with the candidate because they share similar beliefs. That way the voters would accept the candidate as the right person to tackle their problems. 

One way of doing it is to have a catchy slogan to sum it up. Slogans are short and stick to the mind. It is also vital that the slogan you go with clearly implies the core message of the campaign. An average voter should understand what the message is about from a glance.

Just as important as the message itself is the way you deliver it.

Get your message out

It’s safe to say that even excellent campaign messaging that resonates with people won’t help you, if you can’t deliver it to them.

  • Older voters respond to more traditional campaign messaging, like TV and radio ads or posters and billboards.
  • For minority demographics, reaching them through their religious communities or unions is a good option.
  • Younger voters tend to notice communications via channels like text messaging and social media.

In 2012, one of the most impressive aspects of Obama’s re-election campaign was the way his team managed to vary and deliver his message across various channels.

His campaigns use of social media and text messaging connected with voters, old and young, and got them to the polls. 

Here are some ways your campaign can use text messages to communicate with supporters.

Sample election campaign text messages

The greatest advantages of political text messages are that they are immediate, personalized, unintrusive and flexible. You can deliver all kinds of political messaging to your supporters, such as:

Fundraising text messages

Reach out to your supporters in your time of need with fundraising text messages.

Mark, for a grassroots campaign like mine, every dollar donated goes a long way. If you like my ideas and policies, please consider donating at: bit.ly/f34g76

Campaign announcement text messages

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Famously used by Obama to announce his VP pick in 2008, you can send out important campaign news to supporters who opt-in to your text messages.

Congressman Saunders will be on BNN tonight at 9 PM to talk about his new bill. Catch him live!

GOTV Text messages

A text message can be a great way to remind supporters to show up at the polls. 

Hi Adam. Polling closes in an hour at 94 Brindley Road, Northville, FR. Click the link to catch a ride there. bit.ly/65h68j

Political polling messages

Get quick reactions from supporters after a live broadcast through text messaging.

Senator Johnson demonstrated the need for strong health care reform on tonight’s debate. Text YES if you agree and NO if you disagree.

Thank you text messages

Send supporters a quick thank you after a donation or after voting ends.

Dear Joe, your generous donation takes us a significant step towards achieving our goals. Thank you.

Sending Political Text Messages with CallHub

Sending out text messages to your supporters is simple. The first thing you need to do is getting supporters to subscribe to your SMS system through an opt-in keyword:

1. Set up a Keyword and Shortcode

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Choose the SMS Opt-in campaign on the CallHub dashboard.

To set a text alert system for your campaign, you need to have just two elements:

  1. A keyword
  2. A shortcode or long code (to act as Caller Id)
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For example, ‘Text “VP” to 33339 for election updates and reminders.’

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Here, the keyword is “VP,” and the number is “33339”.

You can set a keyword of your choice while setting up your campaign’s SMS system and rent a shortcode or long code from your text messaging service. If not, you can use a cell phone number as the caller ID.

Once you finish setting it up, go ahead and promote your keyword and shortcode. When people text in your keyword to the number, they will automatically be added to your database.

2. Let supporters know about your keyword and shortcode

Let supporters know about the SMS system, advertising it wherever you can:

  • Ask your candidate to promote it during a rally or a debate.
  • Promote your shortcode and keyword on social media and through ads.
  • Send it out in your email communications with supporters.

Now you’re all set to start sending updates straight to supporter’s mobile phones

3. Send your first message

You can send messages through the SMS broadcast campaign on the dashboard.

Type out the message you want to send, for example, asking supporters to donate:

“Mark, for a grassroots campaign like mine, every dollar donated goes a long way. If you like my ideas and policies, please consider donating at: bit.ly/f34g76.”
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Choose the list with the numbers of the supporters to whom you want to send the message.

Now schedule a time you want the message to go out and hit DONE.

Sending out a group text to your supporters is as simple as that.

Reach and Engage Voters

Run Political Text Messaging Campaigns with CallHub

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