Arizona Grassroots Action was initially created in February of 2014 to help incumbent Senator, John McCain stave off threats from a competitive primary challenger. Facing an uneasy electorate, AGA knew its best chance at success was to rely heavily on data to identify and target the right voters from the start. And, with a history of low primary election turnout among McCain’s base supporters working against it, Arizona Grassroots Action also knew an early GOTV push was going to be make or break.
AGA’s proactive grassroots outreach proved successful and following McCain’s victory in the primary, AGA continued its reliance on data to inform their next step.
To develop a strategy, AGA was going to need a clear, full picture of exactly who its supporters were and an understanding of what issues and outreach methods were going to work. But where to begin?
It was the need for data that led AGA to contact i360 in the early stages of planning in April of 2014. Rather than looking solely to purchase licenses to i360’s grassroots products, i360 Walk and i360 Call, the organization came to i360 with a broader set of questions – “Who are John McCain supporters?”, “What do they look like?”, “And where can we find them?”
To answer these questions, i360 began with a Deep Dive analysis of the Arizona landscape following the 2016 primary.
The analysis revealed a successful campaign would be a balancing act – ensuring all messaging was amenable to the pro-Trump supporters without turning off the more moderate voters who weren’t necessarily supportive of the GOP presidential nominee.
To accomplish this, i360 and AGA developed a tailored, data-driven strategy – customizing the message according to the predicted disposition of each voter. This is where the customization afforded by i360 Walk and i360 Call came into play. The software took the guess work out it – making it easy for AGA’s volunteer network to pick up their devices and go without need for extensive training. “One of the best things about i360 Walk, i360 Call and Portal is how user-friendly and intuitive they are. Our entire team could use the tools seamlessly from the get-go” said Jon Seaton, co-founder of AGA.
All throughout the campaign, i360 and AGA worked hand-in-hand. “The i360 staff was in constant communication providing critical strategic input about how to best utilize the data. They were a trusted partner from start to finish” said Data Director, George Khalaf.
While grassroots was certainly an important part of its strategy, AGA also incorporated digital and TV advertising into its outreach. With i360 as its central data hub, AGA was able to execute its strategy seamlessly across contact methods. “A lot of times when you use different vendors you have data coming in from disjointed sources meaning you have to spend time harmonizing that data to really get the full picture. Having a singular, nexus of clean, consistent data really enabled us to take advantage of all our data without any downtime and with less room for error” said Khalaf.
AGA activated its grassroots network in the run up to the primary election generating 1,648,479 call attempts using i360 Call and 137,676 door knock attempts using i360 Walk. The after-action analysis showed their efforts paid off – almost 10,000 more identified Pro-McCain voters turned out in the 2016 primary than did in the 2012 primary. Moreover, 6,000+ identified Pro-McCain voters who had voted in only 1 or none of the last 4 primary elections went to the polls in 2016.
Between August 2016 and November 2016, AGA continued its grassroots-heavy strategy, logging nearly 1,000,000 contact attempts (984,409 call attempts and 66,311 door attempts) with activity peaking when ballots dropped on October 8.
Thanks to the support and data-driven strategy of AGA and others, McCain continued his winning streak, and on November 8, 2016 the polls closed with McCain securing a winning 53.4% of the vote.