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Campaign innovation and the US elections

I get hugely excited about the US elections – and now we’re 2 months into the primaries – it’s a good opportunity to look at some of the different innovations, tactics and approaches that the campaigns have been using.

So here is some Easter reading from the campaign trail – and don’t worry it doesn’t mention Trump once!

1 – Bernie Sanders is building a whole new approach to organising – Lots has been written about the Obama organising model, but reading about the Sanders campaign it looks like he’s building ‘Organising 3.0’, with a focus on local empowerment and leadership coupled with technological innovation. This from Paul Hilder who is inside the campaign is good as is the always excellent Sasha Issenberg.

2 – Everyone is using persuasion – I’ve long been fascinated by how social pressure techniques can get individuals to take action. It’s a growing area of academic research mainly in elections – for example helping someone make a plan for voting on election day can increase turnout by up to 4% – this is a good primer of some of the approaches used in the Iowa Primary.

3 – It’s getting harder to reach people on the phone – but text is where it’s at – Phone banking had long been a key element of reaching voters but its getting less and less effective – in one week in January, the Sanders campaign had to make 250,000 calls to have just 11,000 phone conversations, but all the campaigns are actively trying to build SMS lists (and the Sanders campaign is also using some cool tools to engage volunteers via text)

4 –  Digital innovation – From Hilary Clinton on Snapchat, Ted Cruz’s campaign mining information from Facebook profiles, John Kasich looking at networks built from offline sources of information and the use of Facebook Live lots of campaigns are doing interesting digital innovation. Lots more here.

5 – You probably can’t win without getting the basics right – While it’s easy to get excited about the new tools and approaches, campaigns still need to be won by getting people out to vote,  and that needs a well targeted ground game something that Ted Cruz’s campaign used to led him to victory in the Iowa primary. While on the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders team have build a app that allows anyone to start canvassing for him.

I’m sure in the next 6 month we’ll see lots more interesting innovation and learnings from the US campaign trail. Watch this space.

 

 

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