A Winning Digital Campaign in Iowa House District 82

  Posted on Nov 17, 2017 by Dan Pino

Case Study: A Winning Digital Campaign in Iowa House District 82

Citizens in Iowa’s 82nd State House District were represented by Democrat Curt Hanson for nearly a decade. In the 2016 general election he ran unopposed.

Curt unexpectedly passed away in June of 2017, leaving his seat open. The district voted for Donald Trump in 2016’s presidential election by more than 20 points. It appeared the seat would be ripe for a Republican pick-up.

Blueprint Interactive, working with the Iowa House Democrats, built a digital campaign to help hold the seat and elect Democrat Phil Miller.

Miller, a local veterinarian and longtime resident of the 82nd district, was the top recruit for the Iowa Democratic Party. His strong ties to the district and to local farmers made him an ideal candidate to hold the seat.

Our digital campaign had three goals:

  1. Build Miller’s name recognition.
  2. Notify citizens in the district about the upcoming special election.
  3. Turn out Miller’s base voters in his hometown of Fairfield.

We were able to achieve all three of these goals through a “Breaking News” style ad targeted to our persuasion universe.

Phil Miller Breaking News Ad

Using TV ads created by our partners at Three Point Media, we also ran pre-roll ads highlighting Miller’s connections to the district and his small business experience.

For the negative videos in particular, the Iowa House Democrats created a Facebook page -- Taxin’ Travis Harris -- where Blueprint served ads from, building negative word association for Miller’s opponent based on his record on taxes.

In addition to a persuasion campaign, we tested new tactics for driving voters to the polls and generate actual votes. We focused ads on two specific GOTV universes -- Early vote targets, and vote-by-mail targets.

In the case of early vote targets, we utilized the limited number of early vote locations in the district to create Facebook carousel ads to target those voters specifically. We found it essential that we were providing these voters with informational, non-political ads.

Phil Miller HD82 GOTV
See the interactive ad here

Vote-by-mail targets were targeted with “Request a ballot” ads, then followed up with “Remember to turn in your ballot” ads to ensure ballots were returned. This tactic helped give Miller a nearly 1,500 vote edge in absentee votes. Despite Miller winning by 9%, the total vote margin was only 706 votes.

The digital tactics used Blueprint used for the Iowa House Democrats and Dr. Miller helped push turnout and deliver actual votes for the Democratic candidate in a district that voted for Donald Trump in 2017 by 21 points.

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