Postcards and Letters

Despite its huge popularity among volunteers, people are hesitant to adopt postcard writing as a serious campaign strategy due to the lack of solid data.

In order to better measure the impact of hand written postcards and hand addressed letters, UpRise conducted three large scale experiments in the 2018 midterm elections with the volunteers of Arizona Legislative Districts 21 and 22. 

We expected no impact at all, given that these voters were the recipients of dozens of pieces of mail as well as endless calls, door knocks and TV ads.

Much to our surprise, we saw significant impact from a single contact!

Hand written postcards to less-likely-to-vote Democrats increased turnout by 2.37 percentage points (from 50.59% to 52.96%)

Here are the study results:

Hand Written Postcards – Turnout

In this test, volunteers from Legislative District 21 sent more than 3500 hand-written postcards to people randomly selected from a pool of more than 7000 voters who leaned Democratic but were less likely to turn out to vote. The postcard design and scripts contained positive, pro-Democratic messages.

Turnout rates were 2.37 points higher among recipients of the postcards. In this case, due to the larger number of participants in the experiments, we can say that the results were statistically significant and very unlikely to have been the result of chance.

This may be the strongest evidence yet that hand-written postcards make a difference!

Hand Written Letters – Turnout

The group Peoria Plus Progressives sent more than 1000 printed and hand addressed letters to neighbors. The recipients were randomly selected from a pool of 2000+ voters who leaned Democratic but were unlikely to turn out to vote. The letters introduced the writer as their local Precinct Committeeperson and told the reader how important their vote would be in the upcoming election.

Turnout rates were 2.0 percentage points higher among recipients of the letters.

This is considerably better than the average impact of direct mail on turnout, which is basically 0 (negative 0.2 for campaign mail and +0.2 for non-partisan mail).

While these results were good, we would need to repeat this experiment with a larger group to provide stronger evidence that the impact was due to our letters and not just to chance.

Hand Written Postcards – Reduce Drop Off Rates

At the request of the Northwest Valley and Legislative District 22 Democrats, we also developed a postcard project to support LD22’s candidates for state representative.

Every Arizona voter is entitled to cast votes for one state senator and two state representatives per district, but many don’t know this and vote for only one house candidate. If every voter cast all three votes they are entitled to, the votes cast for each race should be about the same.

In Legislative Districts with 2 Democratic house candidates, our house candidates each got an average of 16% fewer votes than our senate candidates. Each pair of house candidates lost an average of 12,400 votes due to this “undervoting”.

LD22 volunteers sent almost 12,000 postcards to Democratic voters most likely to vote, reminding them to “Vote for Both” house candidates. The drop off rate in LD22 was only 6.33%.

Just by reminding those most likely to vote that they were allowed to cast two votes for AZ House candidates, the postcards may have gained almost 8,000 votes for our two house candidates at a cost of a mere $0.58 per vote.