Robocalls Work

Robocalls may be annoying, but they work.

Without a doubt, robocalls can be annoying, but they indeed work. (see 7-Touches Strategy). If you are not running for President or Governor, you are considered down-ballot. The down-ballot candidate who is the loudest and most repetitive usually wins.

As a candidate, you need to understand how to actually win votes based on solid campaign theory, not what you think works. New candidates generally make the huge mistake of modeling their campaign off campaigns they see on TV (top of the ticket).

Top-of-the-ticket campaigns are completely different than down-ballot campaigns.

One of the biggest mistakes down-ballot candidates make is to think they have an argument so compelling that once they deliver this gem, all the voters will support them. This is called the “Silver Bullet” mistake. All their resources are spent on a last-minute mailing.

Repetition of a clearly defined message is the most effective strategy for down-ballot candidates. Frequently, the media will lament that a candidate will “stay on message” and not provide them with any new information. This is good.Good campaigners have identified a clear message that resonates with the voters and is disciplined enough to stay on message. Your job is to win the election, not chase the bones thrown by the media.

The second mistake down-ballot candidates make is to act like top of the ticket campaigns. The cold reality is that most voters go to the polls thinking about how they are going to vote for President or Governor, all other races are somewhat incidental. Most voters will vote for the candidate for whom they are most familiar. A youtube video is highly unlikely to be seen by voters in your district.

The conclusion is that money wins down-ballot elections. One very successful campaign manager says, “He who mails most, wins.” If a candidate cannot afford to do 7-10 or more mailings ($0.50/piece), they need to supplement their campaign with other strategies. Robocalling is by far the least expensive option. In fact, even multi-million dollar campaigns frequently use robocalls too.

Robocalls are the least expensive way to build name recognition, introduce yourself, deliver public service announcements (such as when polls are open), and refute negative attacks.

Here is an example of how robocalls can be used effectively in a down-ballot race:

  • Candidate introduces self, states why he is running (core message), and announces website.
  • Candidate announces early voting begins and provide hours polls are open.
  • Candidate delivers core message and asks for votes.
  • Candidate refutes negative attack and repeats core message.
  • Celebrity asks for support for candidate because of core message.
  • Candidate announces job fair/first day of school (school funding based on this)/community alert/etc based on core message.
  • Candidate repeats core message and asks for votes.
  • Candidate lets voters know the election is the next day, and asks for their vote because of core message.