Local Republicans have key marketing edge in City Council election

2020 election vote

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Republican-backed candidates for Waynesboro City Council may have the edge going into the May 19 elections.

A Facebook post from former Democratic congressional and House of Delegates candidate Jennifer Lewis brought to my attention that some local residents were receiving mailers touting the slate of Bruce Allen, Lana Williams and Jim Wood, complete with a sample ballot, absentee-ballot application and an envelope pre-printed with the voter registrar’s office address.

Several people commenting on the thread tried to make this effort out to be akin to an effort at cheating the system, but actually it’s anything but.

What it is, is smart GOTV.

It’s a challenge in any election cycle to get out the vote, but it’s historically more challenging in Virginia’s may local elections, which usually see turnout in the 20-25 percent range.

And that’s in a normal year – i.e. an election year when we’re not being told to barricade ourselves crouching in our bathrooms with metal helmets on our heads.

You may very well see turnout half what you’d expect to see in a city election in this 2020 cycle, which in Waynesboro translates to, maybe, the votes of 1,000 people deciding the three seats on the City Council that are up.

You can’t do what you’d normally do in terms of GOTV – knocking on doors, having small neighborhood coffee chats and get-togethers – due to the governor’s ongoing lockdown order.

Advertising in the local newspapers that nobody reads anymore isn’t going to help.

That leaves Facebook advertising, which is hit-or-miss at best, and what you’re seeing from the local Republican-backed slate, in the form of the directed mailing.

Credit to the people in charge of thinking through the strategy to add the touch of the absentee-ballot application and the envelope with the registrar office’s address.

Good marketing includes a call for action on the part of the person that you hope opens the envelope.

This effort did everything but fill in the ballot for you.

Waynesboro is a 50-50 city politically – roughly 50 percent Democrat, 50 percent Republican.

This GOTV strategy could be what lifts Allen, Williams and Wood to victory on Election Night.

Story by Chris Graham


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