May 16, 2019
By Lily Doctoroff
For the next installment of our series on the different aspects of the NDTC downloadable campaign plan template, we’re going to talk about your field plan!
This plan outlines your campaign’s strategy to contact voters in order to persuade them to vote and then to actually cast their ballots.
Your political campaign field plan is broken down into five parts;
- Vote Goal
- Ballot Access Plan
- Voter Targeting
- Voter Contact Plan
Megan’s Campaign Field Plan
To demonstrate how to use the campaign plan template to develop a field plan were once again going to use Megan Hammond as an example. Megan is our imaginary candidate running for School Board in Bear County, New Mexico.
To create your own field plan you’ll want to use both our campaign plan and our Key Field Numbers Workbook which can help you with your (simple) calculations.
Every field plan is unique to its district, so while the numbers in Megan’s plan may look different than your own, the concepts are the same and can be helpful as you create your own plan!
Calculate Your Vote Goal
The first step of any campaign field plan is to calculate your vote goal. This is the number of votes you need to win based on projected voter turnout and number of registered voters. There are many influences that might affect your vote goal; corresponding elections, hot button issues, and historical turnout to name a few.
This might seem a bit difficult at first, but don’t worry! Take our course on Calculating Your Vote Goal and we’ll help guide you through the entire process.
Take Megan—she took the course and did her research on Bear County’s previous turnout rates, corresponding elections and issues, and the number of registered voters. All this info led her to a total vote goal of 1,811 votes.
With a solid idea of the number of votes that she needs to win her election, Megan can plan how to reach voters and work towards her goal!
Ballot Access Plan
For every public office, there are specific forms that must be submitted in order to declare your candidacy. Depending on the office and district these forms will look different. So for your own field plan, it’s important to research which forms are necessary, when they’re due, and who they are due to.
Megan’s candidacy for School Board requires a Declaration of Candidacy, a Candidate Committee Registration Form, and Nomination Petitions.
(Many positions require nominating petitions where a candidate must collect a certain amount of signatures in order to get their name on the ballot. The number of required signatures is typically provided by an election official, but if it is not you may have to calculate the number based on the population of past voting figures.)
Megan’s plan requires 49 signatures, but her goal is to get 100. In order to achieve her goal, she includes a proposed schedule of events where she plans to ask for signatures.
If you’re unsure of what your district requires in order to declare a candidacy make sure to contact your local election official or check out our compilation of state resources for help!
This section of the field plan is fairly straightforward. Voter targeting is simply devising a plan that allows you to focus your time and resources on the right voters.
But who are the right voters? Targeting is all about persuading those who are not in your base vote to vote for you come election day. So the voters you’ll most likely be targeting are low-frequency voters and swing voters who are persuadable.
If you’re a Democratic candidate living in a predominantly Democratic area then you probably don’t have to worry about too much voter targeting. But if you’re like Megan and your area isn’t predominantly Democratic then you should consider who you’re going to target and how.
The best tools for determining both your number of base voters and your vote deficit are local election results/history and Votebuilder (a software that helps you get more information about voters).
Megan used both her county’s election results and Votebuilder (which she is an expert in thanks to our informative Votebuilder 101 course) and found out that she has 1,149 base voters, or registered Democratic voters, which leaves 662 voters in her vote deficit.
In order to ensure she gets those 662 votes that will win her the election, she multiplies her deficit by 3 to get 1,986 voters that she will work to contact. This number is known as her Persuasion Universe which is further broken down into 3 types of voters:
- Low-Frequency Voters
- Anti-Voucher Program Voters
- High-Frequency Independents
Each of these groups has an estimated conversion goal which Megan will aim to achieve before the election. The next step is to devise her plan to reach these voters!
Voter Contact Plan
The most important part of a voter contact plan is outreach. How, when, and where are you going to get in contact with your persuasion universe?
Activities and events such as meet and greets, canvassing, and phone banking (to name a few) are all great ways to meet potential voters.
Your Voter Contact Plan is a prioritized plan of all the different outreach activities/events planned over the course of your campaign. For every planned activity record your conversion goals and number of hours you intend to spend on each. This will help you keep track of your progress towards your vote goal.
In Megan’s field plan she prioritizes high-density precincts for her door-to-door canvassing and phone banking. This allows her to allocate her time and energy efficiently so that she can reach the most people in her persuasion universe.
The final element of the field plan is a comprehensive fieldwork timeline. This includes all the voter contact activities, goals, and major deadlines. A timeline with all the important dates and goals will help keep your campaign in line and ensure you’re on track to achieve your vote goal!
Megan’s timeline begins in January and runs through her election on November 8th. In order to be as efficient as possible Megan’s timeline is divided into different phases of outreach/voter contact by month.
If you’re unsure about how to compose your own timeline for your field plan the Field Tactics course is once again very helpful.
That was a lot of information, so don’t worry if you don’t feel like a fieldwork master quite yet!
Even if you’re not completely confident about creating a field plan you should download the full campaign plan template and take some of our fieldwork courses to start building your confidence.
Courses like Calculating Your Vote Goal, Targeting Voters, Field Tactics, and Votebuilder 101 (add links) are all great resources that will help you develop your own field plan and your larger campaign plan.
So, what are you waiting for? Download the template and get planning!