Democrats have a lot of soul-searching to do after a tough election night in 2014, but we’re proud to say PowerThru clients provided a rare glimmer of hope for progressives. Read on to learn the secrets to how our clients won their elections in 2014.
In Connecticut, Governor Dan Malloy – the nation’s most progressive governor – was locked in a tight race with conservative businessman Tom Foley. Nate Silver pegged the race a pure toss-up at 50/50 and called it the closest election in the nation, but Governor Malloy was able to break through the noise with a groundbreaking field and digital campaign that delivered him a comfortable margin of victory at 51% to 48%. For Governor Malloy, we managed his entire digital campaign and built his new mobile-responsive website in the closing months of the election. In April, PowerThru Consulting partner Mike Nellis joined the campaign as “Digital Director,” and worked on the ground as a member of the communications team. In seven months, we helped the campaign qualify for public financing by raising an overwhelming majority of his campaign funds through a strong, small-dollar blast email campaign, designed a sophisticated digital ad program that delivered votes on Election Day, and helped the campaign recruit over 10,000 volunteers for GOTV efforts. On top of that, social media posts on Facebook and Twitter were seen by an average of 450,000 accounts each week — hitting a peak of nearly 700,000 in the final week of the election. This campaign went on to win a national Pollie award for “Best Use of Twitter”.
In Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, Democrats saw another bright spot on an otherwise poor evening, one of only a small handful of congressional pickups nationwide. Democratic Congressman-elect Brad Ashford defeated 16-year Republican incumbent Lee Terry 49% to 46% after a bruising campaign that saw the NRCC launch the most racist attack in recent political history. It was one of only two Democratic pickups in the House in 2014. For Congressman-elect Ashford, we were called on to design a responsively-designed campaign website back in March to take full advantage of an audience “on the go” using mobile devices, and help him begin using the power of the internet to drive out voters and energize Democrats.
In Michigan’s 12th Congressional District, we helped create a beautiful and responsive campaign website for now Congresswoman-elect Debbie Dingell. In a district with one of the largest universities in Michigan at its center, great mobile device performance and a stunning digital look were critical tools for success. We also helped get the online infrastructure set up and tuned for the campaign. The campaign needed to launch in a hurry, from scratch: as Ms. Dingell had not run for federal office before and didn’t have a website, email list, social media infrastructure to build on. We helped them sort out the direction they wanted to go in, and were available as needed to talk over questions and ideas going forward. The success of their launch discouraged other strong candidates from running, and she went on to win her primary and general election convincingly. This website also went on to win both a Reed and a Pollie award for “Best Congressional Website” nationwide.
In California, we were proud to rebuild the NGP-VAN integrated WordPress campaign website for State Controller-elect Betty Yee and integrate her online campaign infrastructure, in the final months of the campaign. She went on to deliver a strong victory for Democrats on Election Day, and she now has the infrastructure in place to continue on a larger stage. They no longer will have to enter email signups by hand, but data will flow smoothly and efficiently throughout the campaign.
Also in California, former Congresswoman and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis was elected the new L.A. County Supervisor for District 1: we helped her win commandingly back on June 3rd. Even though she was a former Congresswoman and Labor Secretary with a major national name, she hadn’t run for competitive major office recently — which means she was starting without much digital infrastructure in place. We built her a responsive integrated NationBuilder website with the back-end digital tools for organizing, and got her campaign running online – from rolling over a personal Facebook account into a campaign Facebook page and rolling up other Facebook pages into it, to obtaining access to the appropriate Twitter handle, and uploading past volunteer and donor lists into their mass email tool and getting her digital program ready to run.
In 2014, we also worked with groups like African American Voter REP in California to revamp their infrastructure and website. They went on to register thousands of voters and turned them out on Election Day: helping pass progressive legislation statewide, and delivering the margin of victory to help elect great folks up and down the ballot. Their website won a national Pollie award too for Best State/Local Organization Website. And we were proud to work for great PACs like PowerPAC+ and Senior Votes Count! that worked to turn out specific demographics and elect amazing progressive candidates around the country. We also partnered with Signified Media to do several great responsive websites for ballot initiatives up and down the coast of California. When the dust settled, Measure Q was defeated in San Bernardino (and the website went on to win a Reed award), and Citizens for Retirement Security prevailed – the anti-pension initiative in Ventura County was off the ballot. Also the Oye Mi Voz project helped turn out Millennial Latino voters in the Sacramento area too — and the website went on to win a Reed award as well.
We’d be remiss to not mention our client NYCLASS, who moved closer than ever to ending the abuse of carriage horses in New York City using our scrappy, but effective digital strategy that continues to shift the narrative and put pressure on the City Council.
While other clients like Nebraska Gubernatorial candidate Chuck Hassebrook fell short on Election Day, we are proud of the creative, data-driven work we performed for each of them. Democrats have a lot of work to do to reconnect with the American people after tough losses nationwide, and we believe a close look at successful PowerThru clients like Governor Dan Malloy, Congressman Brad Ashford, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell and State Controller Betty Yee is a great place to start.