Case Study

Progressive Turnout Project

How the country's largest voter contact program used ThruTalk to reimagine their field strategy — and win.

Overview

Over the last year and a half, campaigns and organizations have had to innovate their outreach efforts in response to the unique challenges posed by educating, organizing, and mobilizing voters and supporters during a pandemic. Let’s take a look at the tactics that worked as a clue for how to continue to organize in an entirely remote or hybrid environment. This case study about Progressive Turnout Project (PTP) is a great example of how using ThruTalk enabled them to maintain their mission of getting Democrats to vote (and win) without knocking a single door.

The Challenge

Progressive Turnout Project (PTP) is the largest voter contact organization in the country, with a mission to get Democrats elected by having one-to-one conversations with inconsistent or disengaged Democratic voters. PTP’s field operation consists of in-person canvassing and sending follow-up communications such as commitment to vote cards and information on how, where, and when to vote.

In the early months of 2020, PTP spent a week in Chicago training over 100 District Leaders and preparing for the high stakes election season ahead. Training itself is no simple task, but what came next, no one could have anticipated. Just a few weeks later, COVID-19 was rapidly spreading across the country, and cities were going into lockdown just as fast. Part of what makes PTP’s in-person canvassing strategy so effective is that they start early and contact often, so this created a massive problem: how were PTP and their 1,200 staff members going to contact millions of likely Democratic voters when no one could leave the house? How would they ensure they were able to vote, and vote safely?

Solution

PTP ultimately decided that launching a calling program was the best way to replicate the one-to-one conversations that were needed to help Democrats win across the board.

For them, ThruTalk was the natural solution because:

  • Speed: a presidential election and a Senate hanging in the balance meant a lot of people needed to be contacted, multiple times. It was critical that they would be able to call through millions of voters as quickly as possible.
  • Scalability: with 8 weeks to go until Election Day, PTP needed to scale in a way that was more akin to a plane taking off in a straight line than an incline, and they needed to know that the software would support such a drastic scaling. And, it did. PTP went from 0 to 2.7 million calls in the first week of the program.
  • Training & Support: GetThru’s Sales and Client Success teams worked with PTP staff to spin up a national calling program and train 1,200 staff in one week. Our Support team worked with PTP daily to troubleshoot and optimize their calling program on the fly.

GOTV Calling Stats

40,392,551
Total Calls
1,200
Number of Staff
932,673
Voters Canvassed
78.4%
Voter Turnout
1,181,313
Highest Calls in a
Single Day

Result

After rallying Democrats to turn out for the Presidential Election and the Georgia Senate races, Progressive Turnout Project made 40,392,551 calls with 932,673 voters canvassed and a 78.4% turnout rate. They were critical to Democrats’ victory up and down the ballot across the country using a form of voter contact very different from the one they’re known for.

Because they were calling voters instead of canvassing them in person, they were able to expand the geographic size of their universe and reach voters that otherwise would not have been on their lists, as seen in their interactive impact report. This proved to be a game changer in states like Georgia, with large rural populations. There were a few other key findings as well, namely:

  • Re-examine assumptions about the best time to call. During 2020, many people were home a lot more often than they had been historically. This meant that conventional wisdom didn’t always bear out when it came to how early or how late you can call voters and still make contact. While this may shift again with more people back to work, the takeaway is to call when you are able, and let your data dictate the best times for you.
  • There is such a thing as “too many passes” for a calling universe. PTP found that over 90% of the voter contacts they achieved were made within the first three attempts. So, instead of continuing to make passes on the same list, consider expanding your universe or reaching back out to positive contacts and encourage them to reach out to family and friends, or to volunteer with you if possible.
  • Quality conversations and efficient conversations are equally important. During COVID, PTP would walk voters through the process of requesting and returning their ballots, initially hypothesizing that this would increase voter turnout. What they found was that there was only a 4% increase in turnout amongst those who had been walked through a ballot request and those who had simply been texted a link to request one using ThruTalk’s instant follow up feature. While authentic, meaningful one-to-one conversations are always the goal, this does not necessarily mean that those conversations cannot also be focused on making the most efficient use of time!


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