Aggressive Use of Social Pressure? Expect to See More

Aggressive Use of Social Pressure? Expect to See More
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Did the controversial mailer sent by the Ted Cruz campaign ahead of the Iowa Caucuses open the door to candidates using more aggressive social pressure tactics? Some consultants who have applied the tactic think so. 

Democrats have used social pressure mailers for years to enhance GOTV efforts. But these pieces have been sent primarily by advocacy groups, or grasstops organizations that fold after Election Day. And with research demonstrating a softer approach is equally effective, the use of more aggressive messaging is rare.     

On a local level, Republicans have tried the tactic. During the 2014 San Diego mayoral race, California-based Republican firm Revolvis sent mailers on behalf of Kevin Faulconer’s campaign with the voter’s name in bold letters, which read, “John Doe, public records show you failed to vote in the primary.” The mailers also featured either a former mayor or local party chairman.

“We knew that most of the studies on mail-centered turnout programs advocated a softer approach, something much more subtle,” the firm’s partners wrote in a case study for C&E. “But we decided that bold graphics and the name of the voter would attract more attention. We also figured there would be some blow back from such an aggressive approach, but in fact it was minimal.”  

Revolvis said the tactic increased turnout among low-propensity Republican voters by 8.5 percent.

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