Many hands may not have made the work light, but they certainly made it successful: The results are in for our Broward County postcard campaigns for the November 2020 election and they are impressive! Thanks to the tireless work of hundreds of Swing Blue Alliance-affiliated volunteers, our efforts increased Broward County voter turnout by 2.5% overall.
“This is a very big result for a presidential election,” says Susan Labandibar, cofounder, Swing Blue Alliance. “The best part is that we learned about targeting and will likely be able to improve our results for 2022.”
Promoting an Essential Tool for Democratic Voters
Prior to the 2020 election, Florida had allowed “no excuse” mail ballots for about 20 years. When the pandemic hit, these ballots became a critical tool for increasing Democratic turnout. The Broward County Democrats’ strategy was for SBA to send voters Vote by Mail (VBM) applications throughout the summer and early fall. Later in the election cycle, we sent Get Out the Vote (GOTV) postcards.
Thousands of Cards to Thousands of Voters
Our VBM applications were really two-part postcards: Volunteers addressed the first part to potential Democratic voters with a handwritten message encouraging the person to request a mail ballot and vote. (With more than 230,000 postcards to write to Broward, that’s a lot of SBA volunteer hours and cramped hands!) Fortunately, the second part of the postcard was a pre-addressed, pre-stamped mail ballot request form. All the recipients had to do was fill in their names and a few more details.
In 2020, Broward County postcards included:
- Approximately 162,100 postcards written in English
- Approximately 60,000 in Spanish and English
- Approximately 8,000 in Haitian Creole and English
And their recipients were:
- 43% African American
- 27% White
- 20% Hispanic
- 8% Other
- 56% Women
- 43% Men
“I really can’t overemphasize how much great work SBA volunteers put into the Broward postcard campaigns,” said John Loewenstein, SBA Director of Research. “I want to thank the entire research group and everyone who wrote cards, with a special shout out to Bob Seiler who co-led the research group with me and was also the project manager for the mailing process, as well as Richard Segan, who coordinated all the Florida campaigns, and David Salkever who did the data analysis.”
The Broward campaigns’ strong results are quite reassuring. Clearly, SBA’s two-part VBM postcards are effective in increasing Democratic turnout. In fact, preliminary analysis suggests the effect was most pronounced among low propensity voters—very heartening indeed.
–John Loewenstein, SBA Director of Research
A Greater Effect Among Low Propensity Voters
In terms of significant subgroup effects, SBA postcards increased turnout:
2.5% increase overall
2.7% among men
2.3% among women
3.5% among African Americans overall
3.9% among African American women
2.8% among African American men
“The Broward campaign gave us a lot of data on what worked and what didn’t to help increase Democratic voter turnout,” said Loewenstein. “We are now analyzing results from postcard campaigns in Miami-Dade and Duval counties. Once we combine those results with Broward’s and forthcoming results from other Florida counties, we’ll have excellent tools to help refine our targeting strategies for campaigns in 2022 and beyond.”
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Marilyn Hirsch is a freelance copy and editorial writer based in MetroWest Boston