Campaigns and groups who have pulled back on advertising during the ongoing pandemic and racial justice protests are missing an opportunity to engage their supporters.
A new survey from Global Strategy Group, conducted June 21-25, found that voters are more engaged during the coronavirus pandemic and are more likely to engage in online activism, but say they aren’t hearing enough from their elected representatives.
In fact, 31 percent of respondents in the online survey of 1,000 nationwide registered voters said they had not received any email communication from politicians or elected officials since the pandemic started. Roughly the same number said they received the same amount of email, while 21 percent reported getting somewhat more and 9 percent said they received much more.
“By and large, there is room for these folks to communicate,” Julie Hootkin, a partner at GSG, said while presenting the firm’s research during C&E’s CampaignTech at Home online conference.
The dip in outreach isn’t necessarily surprising. Fundraising is down up to 30 percent for some down-ballot candidates and PACs, consultants have told C&E. That drop-off is leading some campaigns and groups to hold off heavy spending until closer to November.
And as the protests over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May grew, consultants advised their clients to listen rather than risk a misstep.
In the survey, respondents also reported their states’ governors were front and center when it came to communicating with them during this period. Fifty-eight percent said they’d received the right amount of digital communication from their governors, while 14 percent said it was too much and 27 percent said too little/not at all.
Senators, U.S. and state representatives and mayors all sent too little communication, according to a strong majority of respondents.
“People are hungry for information and those are many missed opportunities for electeds to really communicate with their constituents,” said Hootkin.
Luke Partridge, director of digital communications at GSG, noted the large group who said they didn’t receive any communications from their electeds is a sign of how difficult it is for campaigns and groups to get their messages out organically in the current environment.
As a result, he said, campaigns shouldn’t shy away from addressing either racial justice issues or the ongoing pandemic with their advertising: “Don’t get gun shy about being part of the conversation.”
GSG’s survey data backs that up. For instance, 68 percent of respondents said they support political groups addressing racial issues like those raised by the Black Lives Matter movement, and an overwhelming majority (84 percent) said they support political advertising addressing the pandemic.
“People have been a little shy about advertising around it,” noted Partridge.
For those looking for the ideal channel for their advertising, local news is a safe bet. While a majority (52 percent) of the GSG survey respondents said they’re watching more streaming TV, local TV news was the most highly rated channel when it came to trust. Overall, 67 percent of respondents said they had more trust in local TV news.
That level of trust doesn’t extend to the social platforms where respondents are spending their time. To wit, 45 percent said they didn’t trust the information from social media at all. Moreover, while 70 percent said they go online to check Facebook, that was a 5 percent drop over November 2019.
Still, online is where people are engaging politically. Twenty-six percent reporting they’d posted about a political issue on social media — a 6-point increase from November 2019 — and 14 percent had emailed a politician who represents them, which was also a 6-point increase.