Every pivotal election in our country’s history has been marked by key moments that have shifted the political landscape.
Despite this cycle already being marked by a global health crisis, a national debate over social justice, and millions of Americans out of work, the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has fundamentally shifted this election for candidates up and down the ballot.
The nomination and confirmation of a Supreme Court justice have now put this election on an unforeseen trajectory.
In 2016, the Supreme Court was not only a driving determinant for voters in choosing their presidential candidate but particularly for conservative voters. According to the 2016 CNN exit polls, one out of five voters cited filling Supreme Court vacancies as a fundamental reason for casting their vote. Of the voters who said that the Supreme Court was the MOST important factor in their decision, they supported President Trump over Secretary Clinton by a +15% margin (56% Trump – 41% Clinton).
Since 2016, this key issue has not only been a rallying point for conservatives, but also for Democrats. In the wake of Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation, the Left has used filling Supreme Court seats as both a tool for fundraising and activist mobilization. In the late hours Friday, ActBlue shattered its previous contribution records and took in over $20 million in the four hours following Justice Ginsburg’s death.
As conservatives and liberals alike begin to rally their bases around the upcoming Supreme Court nomination, below are the key adjustments we recommend Republicans and conservative allies make to their voter contact strategies NOW to ensure that we have a competitive advantage headed into November.
GAUGE VOTER SENTIMENT ON THE SUPREME COURT
Conducting a quick brushfire poll will not only measure how your key target voters feel on this issue, but it can help inform the tone and nature of the messaging creative for the weeks to come. Time and resources are essential in the final days of the cycle, so make sure your campaign is not flying blind on voters’ true sentiments on this issue.
INCORPORATE SUPREME COURT MESSAGING INTO PERSUASION EFFORTS
While healthcare, coronavirus, law and order and the economy might have seemed like the top messaging issues this cycle, the Supreme Court nomination just moved to the top of the list. Across our target races, there are independent, swing voters who are likely to vote in the upcoming election but have not yet committed to supporting GOP candidates. Using predictive modeling, we can identify the subset of these voters who strongly favor appointing conservative Supreme Court justices. This audience can then be incorporated into an issue-specific track of your voter contact plan targeting these voters across mail, mobile, and digital platforms. If your organization is looking to use digital platforms for voter persuasion on this issue, be prepared to move quickly. We are already seeing historic digital spending levels, which is resulting in limited inventory AND Facebook has added a deadline prior to Election Day for new ads.
ENERGIZE AND TURNOUT THE CONSERVATIVE BASE
While traditional messaging to turn out low-propensity Republicans has always relied on appealing to these voter’s conservative roots, the issue of the Supreme Court nomination has proven to be one of the top motivators for turning out our base. Using predictive modeling, we can identify the subset of Republican turnout targets who most strongly favor appointing conservative Supreme Court justices.
These will be CRITICAL targets to fold into any upcoming absentee or early vote push efforts. Not only are mail and digital great platforms to encourage these voters to vote absentee or early, but also P2P texting can be used for both early and Election Day turnout efforts. Be prepared to move quickly as absentee voting has already kicked off in states across the country and in some states, we could see 60-80% of voters casting their ballot prior to Election Day.
Overnight, the political winds shifted. At Majority Strategies, we are here to help our clients navigate this new landscape and Supreme Court nomination by always focusing on what matters most in these final days: persuading and motivating voters on the issues that matter most to ensure Republican victories this fall.