In August 2019, Statecraft joined the team of Van Johnson, candidate for Mayor of Savannah, Georgia. We began working with Johnson’s campaign just six weeks before the first of two elections, so our efforts were focused on turning out the strong grassroots base that his campaign brought to the table.
Van Johnson’s victory is a clear sign that Democrats are gaining strength in the suburban South, thanks to a combination of renewed grassroots energy and smart messaging strategies that appeal to a wide range of voters. Statecraft’s digital-first strategy, which requires fewer resources than traditional campaigning, helped us build a robust online presence for the Johnson campaign. Our message was tailored to bring in a wide coalition of voters and set Van Johnson apart from his Democratic and Republican opponents. In the second round, we connected with voters online and off by combining our digital work with traditional grassroots approaches. This strategy proved essential in a rapidly changing political environment like Savannah.
Elect a candidate with cross-party appeal in a primarily Democrat offseason election
In early 2020, Statecraft joined the campaign of Kathleen Beckman for Clearwater City Council. Despite the 50/50 partisan split of the city, Beckman had cross-party appeal due to her personal record of service as an educator and community activist. The City Council election was an off-season election scheduled for March of 2020 on the same day as the Democratic presidential preference primary. Therefore, we expected low overall turnout, but high turnout from registered Democrats.
Statecraft helped the Beckman campaign win over a broad coalition with our messaging on climate change — a hugely important issue to coastal Clearwater City — and on widely-supported government accountability policies.
Statecraft used an authentic, issue-focused approach to ensure that the campaign stayed above dishonest partisan attacks and kept the focus on Kathleen Beckman’s ideas for workable solutions to voters’ everyday problems. The campaign promoted common-sense progressive policies and kept the focus on issues that affect Clearwater City residents: good governance, climate change, fiscal responsibility, and infrastructure.
In late 2019, Statecraft joined the campaign of Andrew Learned, a candidate for the Florida House of Representatives. The district is diverse, with large numbers of Latino and Black residents, and is politically split between Democratic and Republican voters. The district was only flipped for the first time in nearly two decades in 2018 by another Statecraft client, Adam Hattersley. In the months prior to the August primary, Statecraft worked primarily on building Learned’s name
Andrew Learned became the only non-incumbent Democrat to win a competitive State House seat in Florida this cycle. While many other Florida Democrats struggled, Learned’s win was due to his own strong candidacy as well as a highly adaptable, localized, and focused approach to each of the unique demographics of the district. Statecraft created multilingual digital content to meet voters where they were, particularly during the pandemic. We also made inroads with conservative voters on important issues, such as public education, veteran’s affairs, and support for small businesses by emphasizing Learned’s progressive but pragmatic policies and his strong profile.
Statecraft created a unique message for conservative and liberal voters in this district, including the politically complex Latino community. Many Democratic candidates struggled to reach conservative-leaning Latino voters, but Statecraft’s approach of highlighting Andrew Learned’s authentic policy positions while employing Spanish-language biographical and issue ads showed those voters that we were willing to work hard to earn their support. An overall flexible and balanced strategy which emphasized low-cost digital communications gave Andrew Learned the edge he needed to win.
Amplify existing grassroots support across party lines
Stuart, a school board member, had a strong grassroots base of support but was jumping into the race against a two-term former county commissioner that had been in the race for nearly a year. The August 18th primary was an open Democratic primary in a swing county, so Statecraft created a strategy designed to turn out reliable Democratic voters and Stuart supporters, while simultaneously developing a contrast message to appeal to No Party Affiliated voters and Republicans.
Open-primary campaigns can be complex, with more factors and moving parts to take into account when building a strategy. In this type of campaign, segmentation is essential. Statecraft combined our signature digital strategy, which is proven to generate high turnout among Democrats, with more traditional media methods designed to target other segments of the voter population. We were able to segment voter blocks and target them through different mediums, while highlighting different aspects of Stuart’s background and candidacy based on each group’s priorities. In the end, Statecraft helped Stuart build her reputation as a fair, experienced, thoughtful choice for Clerk of Court and build a wide coalition that brought her to victory.
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