No On 9 Campaign Field Strategy
by Thalia Zepatos, Campaign for a Hate-Free Oregon
In September 1992, we set a goal of identifying 100,000 Oregon voters'
positions on Measure 9 through Voter Identification (Voter ID) phone banks.
At a statewide training organized by OUTPAC in Eugene, we presented a plan
and methodology that was adopted by many local campaigns around the state
(although not all had the resources to take on the phone ID program).
We tested several phone scripts - we called high support areas of Portland
and solicited contributions and volunteers from among our supporters; we
also tested a persuasion script. After several trials, we adopted a simple
three question ID script that did not identify the caller as being from the
No on 9 campaign because our tests showed that skewed the results.
Voters were coded "1" - voting No on 9; "2" - Undecided; "3" voting Yes on
9. By election day, more than 138,000 total voters (including
approximately 50,000 "1's") were identified in Clackamas, Washington,
Multnomah, Marion, Jackson, Tillamook, Hood River, Deschutes, Lane, Benton
and Coos counties.
The next step of our program was to re-contact the "2's", the undecided
voters. We felt the best strategy to counter the anonymous literature
drops by the OCA was making personal contact between our supporters and
We organized a door-to-door canvass operation. In the Tri-county
metropolitan area, volunteers from Portland were sent to augment local
volunteer efforts to visit undecided voters in Washington and Clackamas
Counties (both counties are largely suburban, and are the second and third
most populous counties in Oregon). Volunteers carried voter lists with the
names of "2's" and uncontacted voters highlighted. Voter lists were ordered
in "walking order," used first on the phone bank, and then photocopied for
volunteers to take door-to-door. More than 1100 volunteers working in
pairs canvassed in the metropolitan area during the final four weekends;
they carried a persuasion piece of literature that reinforced media
messages currently showing on TV.
Literature was provided to regional campaigns for their canvass programs.
We encouraged local activists unable to canvass rural districts to re-call
the "2's" with a persuasion script.
As money became available, we decided to send some late mailings to
targeted groups of swing voters ( identified in our polls).
- A postcard to more than 100,000 Republican women aged 25-50 in 15 swing
counties featured a photo and message from former Attorney General Dave
- A postcard to District 18 Democrats in Portland was targeted to the
African American community and featured a photo and message from the
Reverend Jesse Jackson.(District 18 is mostly Democratic and voted 90% for
Jackson in '88.)
Get Out The Vote
We made a strategic decision to continue persuading voters until the Sunday
before election day, delaying most Get Out The Vote activities until
Monday, for the following reasons:
Regional GOTV strategies included:
- The Presidential election was very high profile and a record high
turnout of 82% was predicted for Oregon voters in November.
- Measure 9 was equally high profile; virtually every voter in the state
knew what Measure 9 was and planned to vote on it.
Tri-County GOTV strategies included:
- A memo and follow-up phone calls to all regional campaigns that
presented three options for GOTV activities (see attached).
- Assignment of key staff and volunteers to Jackson and Marion counties
to help with GOTV efforts.
In Washington and Clackamas counties, poll checking activities during the
day allowed us to cross names of "1's" off of lists before sending the
lists to our 5:00 - 8:00 p.m. phone banks. (Note that alphabetical lists
were ordered and names of "1's" manually highlighted by volunteers in order
to facilitate the matching of alphabetical lists with poll books, which are
organized in alphabetical order.)
- Blind pulling (blanketing with a GOTV drive) of key precincts in
Multnomah County Districts 12 and 14, where most of our base of support
resided. (We coordinated with the Clinton campaign in this effort).
- More than 175 volunteers placed 5:30 a.m. door hangers on all doors in
blind pull precincts.
- Poll watching of voter turnout in blind pull precincts, with check of
names of all Democrat and Independent voters.
- Five Sound vans circulated from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Equipped with
cellular phones, we dispatched the vans into precincts that were turning
out lower than our expectations. Volunteers got out of the vans and
door-knocked all doors in those precincts.
In key precincts, we were able to track specific results of our efforts:
overall turnout of voters was 67% by 1:00 pm in one sample precinct, in
which 78% were No on 9 voters.
GOTV efforts were augmented by 20,000 free GOTV phone calls which were
donated by Telemark Services. Calls were made into targeted precincts in
Multnomah and Lane Counties. (Lane County is the 5th most populous county
25,000 No on 9 lawn signs were printed and distributed during the campaign.
Signs were sold for $3.00 in high support areas (Portland) in order to
subsidize low-cost or free distribution of signs to other areas of the
state. Signs were given out for free in targeted swing areas.
Recommendations For Future Campaigns:
- Given that most activists in the No on 9 Campaign had little or no
electoral campaign experience, I would recommend that future campaigns
provide much more training and back-up support to regional organizations.
Three separate trainings would be ideal: one focused on Voter ID, a second
on canvassing, the third on GOTV.
- The educational components of the campaign - speakers bureaus, forums
and debates - should use the persuasive messages of campaign speakers by
tying their work in with Voter ID programs. A critical role that speakers
bureaus can play is recruiting activists.
- Good planning from the central office should maintain consistency of
messages and presentations of those messages by carefully planning
deliveries of literature, materials, etc., on time. A timeline shared with
local campaign field operations for print ads, deliveries, coordinated
canvassing dates, etc. is critically important.
- In future campaigns, where money allows, absentee voters should receive
mailings from the campaign. We did nothing with absentees and eventually
lost Jackson County (where many absentee voters live) as a result.
- Better budgetary oversight would have allowed us to plan for more
direct mail; I would target more groups of persuadable voters with mail in
For more information or to request a complete Fight the Right Action Kit,
call NGLTF at 202-332-6483, TTY 202-332-6219.