With a candidate facing a tough political environment and anti-incumbent sentiment, we leveraged our market research partners at American Strategies to inform our messaging and lock into voter sentiment. The result was selected winner of the 2019 Reed Award for Best Mail Piece for a State Legislative Candidate.
Senator Carl Marcellino faced a challenge: despite the other party holding an enrollment advantage of nearly 6,000 voters in the district, Marcellino won his reelection bid for New York State Senate District 5 by fewer than 2,000 votes in 2016. Heading into 2018, anti-incumbent sentiment was growing, an energized opposition party was threatening to increase turnout, and the largest state teachers’ union had endorsed his opponent.
Polling revealed that voters leaned slightly negative in their feelings on the state’s direction, with just under half (47%) believing it was on track. Voters were slightly more positive than negative in their reviews of Andrew Cuomo’s performance as governor (51% approved, 46% disapproved). While Marcellino’s messaging was aligned with polling, Albany anti-incumbent sentiment ran high among voters.
Using the data we collected from polling, we identified a target audience of right-leaning voters who were likely to vote based on our midterm general turnout model, plus new registrants since the last election.
We then developed a message that emphasized the Senator’s position on taxes, recognizing that his voting record would be critical in the race for District 5, because Long Island taxpayers pay some of the highest taxes in the country. Marcellino had voted to cap property taxes permanently and lower tax rates to reduce the burden on taxpayers so that families could afford to live and stay on Long Island.
Campaign imagery and messaging were designed to immediately command attention and capture the anxiety Long Island families face when it comes to taxes, as well as voter anger toward Albany. We positioned Marcellino’s record as an outside leader who fights against big government spending and holds the line on taxes.
Our solution was a multichannel approach of GOTV phone calls, direct mail, pre-roll video, and a digital campaign to drive voter education and turnout. Despite Marcellino eventually losing his reelection bid with 45.7% of the vote, the mailer featured here was selected by judges of the Campaigns & Elections Reed Award for Best Mail Piece for a State Legislative Candidate.
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