This past cycle, Jim Ross Consulting helped re-elect two members of the Monterey County Board of Supervisors. We were working on two independent media campaigns for two union locals - SEIU Long-Term Healthcare Workers and SEIU Local 521. Although both candidates were incumbents, their districts and political bases varied drastically and required different campaign tactics.
Supervisor Dave Potter represents Monterey County’s District 5, a district with a huge geographical territory and a fair number of wealthy residents. As a multi-term Supervisor, Potter has amassed a real record and has remained popular.
Potter’s challenger in the recent race was a former Republican elected official who ran with the support of a strange Right/Far Left coalition. Despite Potter’s popularity, this strange coalition posed a real threat to the incumbent supervisor.
We knew Potter could win re-election if he could hold onto the political center of his district (moderate to liberal Democrats) in the face of the expected high turnout of the Presidential race. So, we focused on core Democratic voters. We produced direct mail that touted Potter’s record of environmental and fiscal stewardship. We also relied heavily on Potter’s “Democratic Party” identity in communications via direct mail, robocalls and email blasts. Because the district is highly educated, relatively better off economically, and spread out amongst many small communities, we made strong online ad buys in key newspapers in the County. These ads buys helped us to drive our message to potential voters and increase traffic to Potter’s official campaign site. He won handily 55% to 45%.
Supervisor Fernando Armenta represents Monterey County’s District 1, a district that lies completely within the City of Salinas. Though Armenta’s district is very different from District 5, he also faced a tough competitor in his re-election bid.
We knew that Armenta’s political base was younger, more ethnically Latino and less well-off than voters in District 5. To account for this, we adjusted our messaging and delivery methods to fit this electorate. We were also well aware of the district’s low turnout in 2008, so we invested in both persuasion and turnout techniques.
During the race, we stayed away from online ads and instead invested in larger paid phone programs, email blasts, and Spanish language radio advertisements. Our mail was targeted towards two universes within the district. The first targets were a mix of Caucasian and Latino voters who voted regularly in the district. These voters received a straight persuasion message. The second group we targeted was a large section of Democrats who were infrequent voters but who we believed were likely to turn out for the Presidential election. This less dependable group of voters received a judicious mix of persuasion and turnout messages leading up to Election Day. Armenta triumphed 54% to 46%.