FACT has always believed that the first step toward good public policy is to elect candidates who hold strong, biblically based positions on public policy. That’s why we’ve been involved in voter education efforts beginning with the very first election cycle following our initial year (which was consumed with the marriage amendment campaign) and expanded our efforts every election cycle since then.
Voter Guides on State Candidates
Our then two-person operation began our first voter education effort in 2008. We surveyed all the candidates running for state office and provided print and online versions of the results.
In 2010 we wanted to find ways to reach more people with our candidate surveys. Toward that end, as part of our never-ending effort to be good stewards, we spent the money we’d used on printed voter guides in 2008 in a different way. Taking advantage of some database information on registered voters available to us from our national ally, Family Policy Alliance (formerly CitizenLink), we identified voters in critical legislative district races who should have strong pro-family values who were not in our email database. We then targeted them with a series of postcard mailings driving them to our online Voter Education Headquarters. We found that a couple of candidates won by margins less than the number of voters we had mailed. We can’t say our mailing “made the difference,” but we’re sure it helped!
Creating Incumbent Scorecards
In 2012 we continued to expand our voter education efforts. With a hot Republican gubernatorial primary with three strong candidates, we did video interviews of each of the candidates, providing a little glimpse into who they were as persons. We, of course, coupled this with our survey of them, but the videos were a big hit with voters and provided personal insight into the candidates that they couldn’t get anywhere else.
Additionally, with the potential to pick up a couple of conservative seats in the Legislature, FACT’s legislative arm, Family Action of Tennessee, developed its first incumbent legislator scorecard. Every legislator with a contested primary or general election was scored based on how they had voted on key pieces of pro-family legislation. We sent those scorecards (along with other voter education materials) into three districts, one in which a liberal incumbent was running and two in which first-term conservative incumbents were running against strong opposition. Our favored candidates won in all three races!
Expanding Our Reach to Pro-Family Voters
In 2014 we improved our efforts yet again. This time, by accessing a new, improved voter information database, we were able to identify not only potential pro-family voters, but also those who did not vote consistently and target them with postcards about the survey results and the incumbent’s voting records. We targeted three races, and all three candidates won. Furthermore, the “irregular” voters in all three races we targeted wound up turning out to vote in a higher percentage than the rest of the population!
But we did even more. We added robocalls using various well-known political figures to drive voters to our Voter Education Headquarters and we launched a successful targeted Facebook ad campaign. That, along with our efforts on Amendment 1, resulted in a record number of people accessing our Voter Education Headquarters. Plus, we were the only organization in the state to survey the three Supreme Court Justices standing for retention election that August.
Improvement for 2016
This year, we want to continue to expand our resources to educate voters in Tennessee about the candidates for state House and state Senate before Tennesseans head to the polls. We are utilizing cutting-edge online technologies to quickly capture candidate information and then provide a better online user experience for voters across our state. Around or on July 8th, you will be able to access our 2016 Voter Education Headquarters for everything you need to know before you vote.
Thanks to your faithful prayers and generous financial support, we have come a long way in a decade to stand in the gap and advocate for life, family, marriage, and religious liberty in our state. If you want to help us continue the work, please consider joining other Tennesseans by giving your special gift to our “Ten Years for Tennessee” campaign today!