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2018 -- Vote.org Billboard Proposal

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A quick presentation exploring the ways in which billboards can be used to suppress voter turnout and increase voter turnout.

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2018 -- Vote.org Billboard Proposal

  1. 1. Using billboards to increase voter turnout Prepared by Debra Cleaver, Founder and CEO, Vote.org
  2. 2. In 2010, a “private family foundation” began posting billboards in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, warning citizens that “Voter Fraud is a felony.” The billboards appeared mainly in low-income minority neighborhoods. Activists assumed that the billboards were intended to suppress voter turnout. Source: https://thegrio.com/2012/10/29/web-of-dark-money-behind-wisconsin-voter-suppression/
  3. 3. In 2012, nearly 200 additional billboards were erected in the swing states of Ohio and Wisconsin. The billboards bore the same text, and an updated design. Like the 2010 billboards, they were posted in low-income, minority neighborhoods. Source: https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Elections/2012/1023/Voter-fraud-warning-on-billboards-meant-to-inform- or-intimidate
  4. 4. According to Clear Channel Outdoor Advertising, more than 85 voter suppression billboards were placed in Milwaukee alone. Source: https://thegrio.com/2012/10/29/web-of-dark-money-behind-wisconsin-voter-s uppression/
  5. 5. Whoever purchased the ads from Clear Channel Outdoor Advertising did so anonymously — the boards carried only the information that they were paid for by “a private family foundation.”
  6. 6. The billboards were placed in black and brown neighborhoods, in low income areas, and in a few rural areas.
  7. 7. MotherJones cross-referenced population density maps with the billboard locations and determined that the billboards were only placed in black and brown neighborhoods. Source: https://www.motherj ones.com/politics/20 12/10/voter-fraud-bill boards-minorities-oh io/
  8. 8. Activists in Ohio and Wisconsin tried to get Clear Channel to name the purchaser, but were rebuffed. Source: https://thegrio.com/2012/10/29/web-of-dark-money-behind-wisconsin-voter-suppression/
  9. 9. A 2012 joint investigation by One Wisconsin Now and the Grio revealed that the ultra-conservative Einhorn Family Foundation and Bradley Family Foundation were behind the voter suppression billboards. Sources: ● https://thegrio.com/2012/10/29/web-of-dark-money-behind-wisconsin-voter-suppression/ ● https://www.prwatch.org/news/2012/10/11823/einhorn-family-foundation-behind-voter-suppression-billboards ● https://www.prwatch.org/news/2012/11/11834/bradley-foundation-bankrolls-controversial-billboards-treading-controve rsial-new- ● http://archive.jsonline.com/blogs/news/176675811.html
  10. 10. The Einhorn Family Foundation and The Bradley Family Foundation are part of a constellation of conservative funders who are led by Charles and David Koch. Source: https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Einhorn_Family_Foundation https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Bradley_Foundation
  11. 11. The Bradley Foundation is one of the nation's largest funders of conservative causes and organizations, giving approximately $30 million in grants each year.
  12. 12. The Bradley Foundation has spent millions of dollars promoting the idea that “voter fraud” exists -- and that it takes place primarily in black and brown neighborhoods.
  13. 13. The Bradley Foundation is undeterred by a lack of evidence. A federal judge in Ohio found that “these billboards seemed to be strategically placed disproportionately in African-American and Latino neighborhoods in both cities, often within eyesight of large public housing communities" even though there was “was little to no evidence that [voter] fraud was taking place in Ohio.” Ne. Ohio Coal. for the Homeless v. Husted, No. 06 Civ. 896, 2016 WL 3166251, at *30 (S.D. Ohio June 7, 2016), aff'd in part, rev'd in part, 837 F.3d 612 (6th Cir. 2016).
  14. 14. In-person voter fraud is less common than UFO sightings. source: https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/voter-id-laws-charts-maps/
  15. 15. “(The billboards are) just a blatant attempt to keep people in this community, particularly black people and poor people, from voting.” -- Cleveland Councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland Source: https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/10/voter-fraud-billboards-minorities-ohio/
  16. 16. Learn more about the voter suppression billboards 1. https://thegrio.com/2012/10/29/web-of-dark-money-behind-wisconsin-voter-suppression/ 2. https://thegrio.com/2012/10/05/ohio-voter-fraud-billboard-accused-of-intimidating-black-voters/ 3. https://www.prwatch.org/news/2012/10/11823/einhorn-family-foundation-behind-voter-suppression-b illboards 4. https://www.prwatch.org/news/2012/11/11834/bradley-foundation-bankrolls-controversial-billboards-t reading-controversial-new- 5. https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/10/voter-fraud-billboards-minorities-ohio/ 6. https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Elections/2012/1023/Voter-fraud-warning-on-billboards-meant-to-in form-or-intimidate
  17. 17. The Vote.org team was inspired by the Bradley Foundation and the Einhorn Foundation
  18. 18. If billboards can be used to suppress turnout -- they can also be used to increase voter turnout.
  19. 19. We went big on billboards in Virginia in 2017 ● We ran ads on 95 billboards (and bus shelters) in the Hampton Roads area for the four weeks leading up to Election Day. ● We also purchased advertising on the inside and outside of 97 public transit buses in the Hampton Roads area. That is ⅓ of all public transit buses. ● Anecdotally, organizers on the ground assured us that the ads were “literally everywhere.” ● Mathematically, these outdoor ads provided 30 million impressions.
  20. 20. We even invested in digital billboards, that counted down until Election Day.
  21. 21. We didn’t just invest in billboards We also invested in SMS outreach and digital radio. ● SMS: Our team sent 1,471,085 texts to 428,240 registered POC voters in Virginia. Initial texts reminded the voters than an election was coming. The final texts proactively provided polling place information to the voters, along with a reminder to vote. ● Digital radio: We ran commercials on Pandora and Spotify in both English and Spanish for four weeks, targeting Black, Latino, and Asian American voters. These ads were heard 2,514,083 impressions.
  22. 22. Our goal was to reach every potential voter multiple times. Billboards are a key part of this strategy. They’re bold, they’re inexpensive, and they’re a great way to market a product. Our “product” is voting. Billboards are a key part of our marketing strategy.
  23. 23. Vote.org went even bigger with billboards during the Alabama Senate Election in December 2107
  24. 24. We bought 140 billboards in Huntsville, Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile and other parts of the “Black Belt,” and 59 bus ads in Birmingham. In total this produced an estimated 70 million impressions.
  25. 25. We layered SMS, mail, and radio on top of the billboards. ● We ran 3 weeks of digital radio on Pandora targeting African-Americans in Alabama for an estimated 1,746,103 impressions. ● We proactively provided polling place data via SMS to 585,000 POC in Alabama, representing over 50% of all registered black voters. ● We partnered with Voter Participation Center (VPC) to send 200,000 pieces of direct mail to registered black voters. This represents 21% of all registered black voters. ● We also partnered with VPC and the Analyst Institute to run the first-ever controlled experiment testing the effect of layering SMS on top of direct mail outreach.
  26. 26. In much of the media coverage in Alabama the billboards were used as a visual reference, but no one ever discussed the campaign. The billboards were part of both the pre- and post-election media coverage.
  27. 27. On the ground groups told us that the billboards were “everywhere” And that they hadn’t met anyone who didn’t know the election was coming.
  28. 28. Experts expected low turnout in the Alabama election. After all, December of an off year is a bizarre time to hold a senate election.
  29. 29. Instead there was record high turnout Particularly in the predominantly black precincts, where Vote.org was one of only a handful of groups working to mobile voters. Black voter turnout did not drop at all between 2016 and 2017. This is virtually unheard of: turnout is always lower during an off-year election than it is during a presidential election. Unless, of course, you invest in GOTV.
  30. 30. GOTV works: if you ask people to vote, they will.
  31. 31. And GOTV can make all the difference in a close election.
  32. 32. Vote.org can use billboards again to increase voter turnout in 2018
  33. 33. Why invest in billboards?
  34. 34. First, to prevent conservative groups -- like the Koch Brothers, the Bradley Foundation, and the Einhorn Family Foundation -- from buying billboards and using them to suppress black and brown voter turnout. It’s important to beat these groups at their own game. Either conservatives buy billboards and use them to suppress turnout, or progressive groups -- like Vote.org -- buy billboards and use them to increase turnout.
  35. 35. Second, billboards are an inexpensive marketing channel ● The low production costs combined with high CPMs make outdoor advertising one of the most affordable advertising channels available. ● It costs Vote.org less than $200,000 to run ads on 95 billboards and 97 buses for 4 weeks in Virginia. ● It cost Vote.org less than $300,000 to run ads on 140 billboards and 59 bus shelters for 4 weeks in Alabama. ● Vote.org pays less than most groups for billboards and transit ads because we buy in bulk -- and because the billboard owners often extend us a nonprofit discount.
  36. 36. Third, billboards provide multiple touches at a low price point. ● Vote.org borrows heavily from marketing and sales expertise. ● Partisan groups market candidates. Vote.org markets voting. ● The “rule of seven” is widely known in marketing circles. It takes 7 touches to convert a lead to a sale. ● Low and mid-propensity voters are Vote.org’s “leads.” Voted ballots are our “sales” ● Billboards are an inexpensive way to touch potential voters multiple times at low CPM (cost per thousand views)
  37. 37. Fourth, young people don’t watch broadcast TV The majority of partisan outreach dollars are spent on broadcast TV ads. Broadcast TV is an ineffective way to reach young voters. Some fun facts about TV ● Half of broadcast TV viewers are over 54. ● 61% of adults under 30 in the U.S. primarily use online streaming to watch TV ● 47% of adults ages 22-45 are watching absolutely no content whatsoever on broadcast TV. Sources: ● https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/03/half-of-broadcast-tv-viewers-are-54-and-older-yikes/28 4256/ ● http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/09/13/about-6-in-10-young-adults-in-u-s-primarily-use-online-stre aming-to-watch-tv/ ● http://adage.com/article/media/half-young-consumers-watching-content-traditional-tv-study/310564/
  38. 38. But they do notice billboards. ● Arbitron studied the effectiveness of billboards and found that (1) young people spend 20 hours a week in their cars and (2) over 70% of travelers reported looking at some billboards, and 37% reported that they look at ALL billboards. ● Nielsen conducted a study on the effectiveness of transit advertising in 2017 and found that (1) viewership was highest among adults aged 25-34 and (2) viewers later recalled these ads 47% of the time. Sources: Arbitron study on billboards (link). Nielsen study on billboards and transit ads (link)
  39. 39. Finally, billboards amplify all other outreach efforts. ● Research shows that multi-channel outreach is better than single-channel outreach. ● This is true when it comes to marketing products, marketing candidates, and marketing voting. ● Billboards are an effective amplifier for other critical outreach efforts, including SMS, radio, direct mail, field, and even TV.
  40. 40. Nothing will ever replace face-to-face outreach. ● On the ground field programs, and face-to-face conversations, will always be the gold-standard of voter outreach. ● But on-the-ground is difficult and expensive to scale. ● And it is unlikely that any field program -- no matter how efficient -- will ever reach every low and mid-propensity voter. ● We can use billboards to ensure that almost every voter is aware that elections are coming, including those voters who we can’t reach via face-to-face outreach.
  41. 41. Vote.org needs your help to buy billboards in 2018. ● We are interested in states, counties, and congressional districts that have a high-percentage of POC and young voters and also have competitive elections. ● Right now we are keen on certain areas of Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia. ● At the end of the day, we are location agnostic, and population specific. Vote.org will run an outreach program anywhere in America, as long as there are low-propensity young voters and POC in those areas.
  42. 42. The deadlines are approaching. Vote.org has until September 24, 2018 to buy the billboards. We have the creative ready to go. We just need capital to purchase the inventory. And don’t worry: we will push hard for nonprofit and bulk-order discounts.
  43. 43. Email finance@vote.org anytime to talk about investing in Vote.org’s 2018 billboard strategy.
  44. 44. Donations to Vote.org are tax-deductible Vote.org is a 501(c)(3) non-partisan, nonprofit. Our mission is reflective democracy, which is a shorthand way of saying that we work to ensure that the electorate accurately reflects the population in terms of race, gender, income, and age diversity. We work to increase voter turnout by targeting voters who are less likely to cast ballots, specifically young voters and voters of color.
  45. 45. Let’s do big things together in 2018

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