Voters still support the right plan, communicated well
To put it mildly, a healthy bit of angst could be felt throughout Missouri school districts when their April ballot issues were pushed back to June 2 by the governor, in an attempt to not turn polling stations into a petri dish for COVID-19.
Districts and their campaign committees had endeavored to create understanding and enthusiasm, respectively, for their proposals. Would they be able to rekindle the fire that might have been an uphill climb anyway, given the February 20 start of the stock market tumble? How would the uncertainty over the economy’s status, the continuing job losses and the virus’ steady march affect voters?
If anything, it appeared to make them more strident in their support of school districts, as Missouri’s results (and a general review of national scene) would suggest.
A scan of websites from across Missouri (just as an example), seems to show that 43 proposals passed versus just four proposals that lost. That’s a 91% win percentage, which is stunning considering all the outside factors involved in the voters’ decision-making process.
Patron Insight worked on pre-election research for two of these winning districts, and assisted with the campaign re-launch for one of the winners. What did this experience, and reviewing some of the work of other districts, reinforce for us?
The right proposal, communicated effectively, can win almost no matter when and no matter what is going on.
The right proposal is benefit-focused. From the minute you secure the final project list, convert those projects into benefit statements. Focus most on how the students will benefit from each key project. Emphasize your frugality – this is what we need for our students, not what we want.
The right communications are simple and repetitive. Very. Particularly with all the uncertainly, keeping it simple and saying it over and over again is essential. There isn’t enough “mind space” for your voters to grasp all the details. Stash those on your district website, along with an FAQ document that you update regularly.
Districts often ask us, “When is the best time to run a ballot proposal?” Our answer: When you have the right proposal and the time to communicate effectively. Also, if your proposal will involve a tax increase, you should find out if any agency in your community (library, fire district, etc.) is also asking for an increase at that time and weigh the risks and advantages of potentially making cautious voters choose.