Getting On Our Soapbox

#Team36 for the Win!

Last week Pennsylvania had a Primary Election. It was an interesting election, because it had some very important races on the ballot, including competitive races for Governor and US Congress.  But there were also a lot of very little elections that took place all over the city—and in some parts of Philadelphia, it was those little races that had the most action.

One of the biggest little elections last week took place in the 36th Ward, located in South Philly from Washington Avenue to Moore Street west of Broad Street to the river. It is the geographic epicenter of next year’s battle for District Council between incumbent (and Soapbox Solutions client) Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, and Point Breeze developer Ori Feibush.

As a first act in the upcoming Council race, Ori made a tactical decision to try to weaken Councilman Johnson by taking control of the Democratic Party structure in the Councilman’s base. The 36th Ward has 41 divisions, and voters in each division get to elect two people, known as a Democratic Committee Person, to represent them in the Democratic Party. So, if Ori could elect 42 of the 82 committee people in the ward, he would have technical control over what the Democratic Party does in that neighborhood.

His efforts were very high profile, as he spent his own money to recruit people to run for those positions, and pay the legal bills to have Committee Person candidates who support Councilman Johnson knocked off the ballot.  Councilman Johnson hired us to help him beat back this Committee Person challenge.

Soapbox Solutions was proud to work with what we called #Team36—the community activists that have spent a lifetime helping their neighbors in that community and were running for election as Committee Person in their district.  Most of the people running were sitting Committee People, and had a long track record of working the polls. They knew their neighbors, and their neighbors trusted them.

Our goal was to enhance the natural advantage of #Team36—their years of activism and knowledge of the community—through both old-school and new-school tactics.  It was vital that our team of candidates went door to door and actually talked with voters.  It wouldn’t be enough to do what our opponents were doing, which was to print up a bunch of slick door hangers and blanket the ward with them.  #Team36 would need to knock on doors and make phone calls. Speak directly with their friends and neighbors and tell them they needed their support. Soapbox Solutions would act as a coordinated campaign for 82 different candidates.

We designed individualized campaign literature for each of our candidates that featured useful information for voters, including quotes from respected elected officials, along with the name and address of the polling place where a voter receiving the palm card would vote.  And since our opponent was successful in using legal tactics to knock some of our candidates off the ballot, 10 of our candidates were running write-in campaigns. Literature for those candidates included detailed instructions on how to cast a write-in vote.  We also procured self-inking stamps for our volunteers to give out at those polls on Election Day.

Through a partnership with Textizen, a local technology firm that has developed a web platform to communicate with broad audiences via text message, Soapbox Solutions offered #Team36 a detailed voter lists and the ability to text voter contact information back to a centralized voter database. Each of our candidates would be able to talk with a voter, ask them for their support, and offer to send them a text message reminding them when and where to vote.  Our candidate would then be able to text voter responses back to our database, so we would know who our team’s supporters where, and we could remain in contact with them via voice and text.

Our team did an excellent job visiting voters at their homes and calling them on the phone.  And after every individual contact with a voter, our team texted that information back to us at Soapbox Solutions.

With that wealth of information at our disposal, GOTV was a breeze. We sent automated text messages asking our supporters to vote and let us know when they did. We sent automated calls from various elected officials reminding voters when and where to vote, and thank them for supporting our team. We had volunteers knock on doors and make direct phone calls to our supporters on Election Day, until we were certain they voted.

And of course, our team was out at the polls, talking with their neighbors, and, in the case of our 10 write-in candidates, making sure they knew how to cast their vote.

In the end, we didn’t just win. We won by a landslide. Of the 82 races for Committee Person, #Team36 won 75 of them.  We even won 5 of our 10 contested write-in campaigns. And we did it because we had the best candidates, and we ran the most organized campaign.

Congrats to #Team36 on your victory. Soapbox Solutions looks forward to helping you get out the vote in the future.

Tags: elections, democrats, ward, Kenyatta Johnson, politics