Asian woman typing on an iphone

Winning Uphill Battles in Political Campaigns: Lessons from Elevate Strategies

April 11, 2024

Winning Uphill Battles in Political Campaigns: Lessons from Elevate Strategies

6 min read

Victory often hinges on the strategic deployment of innovative tactics and tools. Recently, we partnered with Elevate Strategies in an exclusive C&E webinar called “Winning Uphill Battles: Advanced Tactics & Tools for Political Campaigns.”  

Political consultants Gabi Finlayson and Jackie Morgan spoke with Prompt about the top tactics they have used in recent elections. See how they transformed underdog candidates into triumphant victors.

1. Rosemary Lesser: Battling Gerrymandering with Precision

Rosemary Lesser's re-election campaign in Utah House District 10 stands as a testament to strategic brilliance in the face of political adversity. Amidst the challenges posed by gerrymandering, Lesser's campaign orchestrated a series of tactical maneuvers to secure victory.

In 2022, Elevate Strategies took on this R+12 district. The Results?

  • Rosemary raised $137,000
  • Knocked on 9,243 doors
  • Published seven community-led op-eds
  • Sent five mail pieces
  • Placed a $20,000 targeted digital ad campaign
  • Won her election by 500 votes!

Key Tactics Used:

  • Digital Layering: Leveraging a targeted digital ad campaign, the team strategically infiltrated online spaces and specific demographics of voters. One strategy in particular was layering texts and mail pieces to veterans and active military or families of veterans and active military.
  • Strategic Fundraising: Despite facing an uphill battle, Lesser's campaign raised an impressive $137,000, demonstrating the power of strategic planning in overcoming resource constraints.
  • Grassroots Mobilization: Knocking on 9,243 doors and publishing seven community-led op-eds, the campaign forged genuine connections with constituents, amplifying Lesser's message of service and dedication.

[Learn More: Ask an expert about political texting]

Another key factor? The candidate put in the work alongside the consultants.

“[Rosemary’s] work knocking on doors and really putting in the effort to talk to people, with a lot of relational organizing towards the early parts of the campaign, that I think really paid off in some of these neighborhoods where we weren't able to always reach people.” –Jackie Morgan, Elevate Strategies

2. Taylor Knuth: Merging Pop Culture with Political Messaging

In the mayoral race of Ogden, Taylor Knuth's campaign masterfully blended contemporary pop culture with astute messaging strategies, captivating audiences and driving unprecedented voter engagement. Elevate Strategies had to push the limits to stand a chance against a very well-known opponent.

While demographic targeting is essential, Gabi mentioned the importance of perspective for consultants:

“We thought a lot about ‘how can we actually reach younger voters?’ And I think the thing that is most frustrating for youth organizers and for younger voters is to think about them as the youth.” –Gabi Finlayson, Elevate Strategies

The Results?

While Taylor did not ultimately win the race, his campaign made a lasting impression on the voter base of Ogden.

Ads accumulated more than 112,500 impressions. The precincts close to the Weber State campus witnessed the highest voter turnout in the history of municipal elections.

Key Tactics Used:

  • Cultural Connections: By capitalizing on Taylor Swift's brand through the concept of "Ogden (Taylor's Version)," Knuth's campaign created a distinctive and memorable connection with a youthful demographic, resonating with their aspirations for growth and renewal.
  • Merchandise Marketing: The distribution of campaign merchandise, strategically targeted at students, not only bolstered visibility but also fostered a sense of community spirit, catalyzing previously disengaged voters into active participants.
  • Digital Precision: Elevated planned a detailed, tailored digital ad strategy. It focused on young voters aged 18-35 and featured Spanish versions to cater to diverse linguistic preferences. This ensured maximum impact and resonance with the target audience.

Getting Insider Tips from Political Consultants

The webinar’s Q&A session, Gabi and Jackie had a chance to draw back the curtain on what it takes to win races. One of the biggest concerns the audience had was around budgets and limited resources. 

Gabi Finlayson said:

I mean running races in Utah, we know a thing or two about having limited budgets. I think our number one priority always are going to be those things that are super high impact and low cost. And so we will always try and deal with canvassing, door knocking, phone banking, and actual direct voter contact conversations. 

Check out the full conversation and real election cases studies in the C&E webinar:

Our latest blog posts

Insider Scoop: The Latest Updates and Tools from The Campaign Registry

Insider Scoop: The Latest Updates and Tools from The Campaign Registry

Transform Your Text Messages with Bold, Italics, and Unique Characters

Transform Your Text Messages with Bold, Italics, and Unique Characters

InstantApps: Your First-Party Polling Solution with Texting

InstantApps: Your First-Party Polling Solution with Texting