Why We Apply Social Pressure in GOTV Conversations | NDTC

Every conversation and point of contact you have with a voter during Get Out the Vote (GOTV) has an incredible impact because you need to use your time effectively to reach your vote goal on Election Day. 

The Importance of GOTV Vote Plans 

Creating a vote plan is the key focus of these GOTV conversations. This includes when you’re helping voters make a plan to vote by mail. 

Vote planning conversations help you ensure a voter has thoroughly thought through their plan to vote (including navigating any logistics and ensuring they have the correct information, such as a deadline to mail a ballot in or a correct polling place if having to vote in person). 

Additionally, by clearly communicating to someone else how they will vote, it helps a voter solidify their commitment to vote. Research shows people are more likely to follow through when they make this type of commitment to others. (Costa, Schaffner, and Prevost, 2018).

These conversations have an impact because they help apply social pressure to increase voter turnout.

What is Social Pressure? 

Social pressure is the direct influence on people by peers. It causes an individual to change their attitudes, values, or behaviors. We care about being liked and do things when we think others may approve or be holding us accountable in some way. This blog by Campaigns and Elections details social pressure. 

Why Social Pressure in GOTV

When it comes to voting, social pressure is useful because when voting is viewed as a social norm, there’s intrinsic motivation to actually vote. 

When you make a vote plan with someone, they’re also holding themselves accountable for following through on the plan and details that you made together. 

This social pressure further increases when we think about relational organizing (relational organizing is a strategic approach to supporter outreach and mobilization that emphasizes the use of personal relationships to encourage action). The closer a personal relationship, the more likely the person is to take action and be held accountable. Personal connections exert more social pressure because they’re part of your personal networks and social support before and after Election Day. 

So, getting folks to make vote plans and apply to social pressure with folks they already know further increases the likelihood of turning out to vote

Social Pressure in a GOTV Conversation

Social pressure has impact! 

How do we incorporate it into our GOTV scripts? Here are some examples of language you can use in a conversation with a voter to apply this social pressure: 

  • Thank you for being a reliable voter!
  • Thank you for your commitment to vote! We will follow up!
  • Official records show you are a registered voter. 
  • I’ve been talking to our neighbors and everyone is voting! 
  • It’s going to be an exciting race, and every vote counts! 

These are important components to include in your script to make sure it encourages people to vote.  We want folks to remember that every voter matters, to understand the impact of their vote, and to know everyone’s voting (hopefully by mail) this year! 

This is such an important part of your script as it directly speaks to the motivation of your voter. 

To learn more on how to best encourage voters to vote, check out this course:

Get Out The Vote: How to Talk to Voters

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Collyn Warner

Since 2008, Collyn Warner has spent most of her time working on political and issue-based campaigns, community organizing, and training. She started her work in these areas in red (and primarily rural) areas in the regional South. In addition to these efforts, Collyn previously worked on event coordination, communication efforts, and logistics at the International Monetary Fund, as well as membership development with Business Forward. She has worked in communications and outreach for the Campaign for Southern Equality, Neighbors for Equality (a grassroots LGBTQ rights group), Amnesty International, and higher education institutions.

Collyn completed her M.A. in English (Composition and Rhetoric) at The University of Alabama, where she was awarded funding to research the digital tools of community organizing across LGBTQ advocacy efforts in North Carolina, and she has presented on activist literacy, digital organizing, and grassroots initiatives at national conferences.