Apr 23, 2019

What worked and what didn’t in 2018

After the 2018 midterm elections, we asked progressive campaigns to share what worked and what didn’t.

Julia Leitner

After the 2018 midterm elections, we asked progressive campaigns to share what worked and what didn’t. In the weeks following the election, we surveyed 82 campaign staffers from 23 states and 62 different races and political organizations.

Read on for the highlights. Then, take a look at the full report for more.

Here are some highlights.

At a general level, campaign staffers told us the greatest accomplishment of 2018 was proving long-shot candidates in reach districts could be viable. Inspiring candidates and robust organizing drove attention to districts and races that, in the past, were often overlooked.

At a tactical level, staff highlighted the positive impact of peer-to-peer text messaging. Text messages regularly see an open rate of 90+%, which is much greater than the contact rate at doors or over the phone. In addition, organizations like Red2Blue and OpenProgress helped train out-of-district volunteers to send messages, which helped effectively mobilize volunteers in  safe blue districts.

Staffers also spoke about the importance of relational organizing. This is when campaigns encourage supporters to get in touch with their friends, family, and other personal networks. One Texas congressional race alone collected over 12,500 relational IDs and dramatically improved turnout among low propensity voters in their sample.

What about challenges?

About sixty-five percent of respondents indicated their number one obstacle was related to the talent pipeline. Campaigns had trouble recruiting and training enough staff to perform the necessary work. And many of the staff they were able to hire had little to no professional experience managing a team.

That’s why we’ve launched Arena Academy. Our ability to win elections depends on our success in building an enduring talent pipeline. Read more.

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