Day -33: The turn out election

It is 33 days until Election Day.

What has changed in electioneering in Australia since 2010?


Firstly, I think the progressive parties have watched the Obama campaign very closely. They’ve taken the two most obvious elements of that campaign — data and the ground game — and started to implement in-house capabilities.

In Victoria (I’m not sure about other states), I’ve seen Labor invest heavily in field organising, under the rubric of “This Is Labor”. This is door-knocking and street-stalls, but also phone calls. I imagine the information gathered through the phone calls inform the door-knocking. Underlying this field organising is a nascent neighbourhood team model, based on the Obama snowflake.

Nationally, I’ve seen that Labor has not only brought in talent from the USA (a great move in my view), but also invested more in data analysis. At a digital data level, this means using the CMS Nation Builder (more about them here).

The GOTV edge

The main area that I think Labor must focus on, using the field organising and data capabilities, is to build for turn out. In the 2010 election, there were 14 million people enrolled to vote but only 13,131,667 actually voted.

This approximately 800,000 people in 2013 could potentially mean the difference between victory or defeat. What’s more, 700,000 people in 2010 voted informally.

Labor’s challenge is to create  a Get Out The Vote operation to lift their primary vote. A turn out campaign would focus on a positive message for unenthusiastic potential supporters.

Compulsory voting makes it easy for political parties t0 ignore turn-out campaigns. But in 2013, with Labor trailing in the polls on the first day of the campaign by -0.78% in two party preferred terms, every new vote gained is increasingly important.