Why the 2020 Election’s Record-High Voter Turnout is *BAD* News for Local Campaign Committees—And How SHP Can Help

Whether you come from the left, right or center, the 2020 election will go down as one of the most interesting in America’s history. One Gallup poll indicated voter enthusiasm was up almost 20% compared to previous years; Time reported voter turnout was the highest it has ever been for a U.S. election, with two-thirds of registered voters casting ballots. 

How could record-high voter turnout possibly be bad news for local campaign committees? 

As the above-linked Time article points out, this level of both enthusiasm and participation is an anomaly. According to Pew Research, in most elections, the U.S. trails other developed countries in voter turnout. In fact, approximately 20% of registered voters have voted ZERO times in the past 11 years—even on the local decisions that directly impact their communities and wallets.


“In other words: A LOT of registered voters are staying home—instead of supporting their local levies or bond issues. That's the bad news for local campaign committees, which rely on public support to advance their community’s educational vision.”

In other words: A LOT of registered voters are staying home—instead of supporting their local levies or bond issues. That’s the bad news for local campaign committees, which rely on public support to advance their community’s educational vision.

Data from the Ohio School Board Association indicates that of the 11 school bond issues on local ballots in November’s election, only five passed—with the fifth going to recount to decide the final outcome. SHP’s campaign assistance team supported three of the successful ones: Fairborn City Schools and Franklin City Schools in the Dayton area and Westfall Local Schools south of Columbus. 

The passage of these bond issues reflects the community’s commitment to educational excellence and incredible visioning already underway in their respective districts, and we couldn’t be more thrilled for them. But they also reflect the critical support SHP provided to the campaign committees charged with spreading the facts of the bond issue and gathering community support. 

For example, did you know some of the same data that powers national campaigns can inform how your campaign will reach voters, initiate enthusiasm and garner support for school ballot initiatives? Nailing it is part science, part analytics and part experience. And it’s what SHP does every day.

2020: The New Normal?

The 2020 election hit the U.S. electorate with the one-two punch of a heated, contentious race and a global health pandemic: a real powderkeg of unknowns and negativity. Many school districts we spoke with were fearful of even putting their levies or bonds on the November ballot, preferring to focus on the spring “off-race” primary where support could be more readily assured. 

Then COVID-19 happened. 

Despite this obstacle, SHP’s experience and tools let us hit the ground running. When the March primary was delayed, we were able to be nimble, creative and adapt new strategies when typical avenues—like door-to-door canvassing—were denied. Our expertise allowed us to help clients make the most of minimal budgets that suddenly had to sustain another six months of campaigning. For years we have perfected early and absentee voting strategies, which made us perfectly suited for the shift to this “new normal” of mail-in ballots.  

Voter Analytics Assessments 

Our proprietary voter analytics software, TargetVote©, leverages publicly available information on each and every voter in a district. We identify missing voters, recognize trends… and can even predict voter turnout. These insights allow a campaign committee to develop a unique outreach plan to reach and motivate potential advocates.

Strategy and Communication 

Through insights gleaned from TargetVote, our team supports your local campaign committee to craft and commit to a unified communication plan. Our staff of communication strategists, graphic and web designers, and marketing experts offer extensive strategic planning sessions to hone a communication strategy that will spread your message and rally community support. 

But it’s our 15+ years of experience working across Ohio—with districts of 500 students in small rural settings, to bursting-at-the-seams urban and suburban communities and their thousands of students—that really sets us apart. Knowledge is power: we’ve experienced first-hand what has worked and what hasn’t, and we have a 90% success rate to prove it.


Campaign Partnership and Implementation 

SHP provides in-the-moment and on-the-ground implementation support to your campaign volunteers — the neighbors and friends who ultimately become your biggest advocates. They set the tone, lay the groundwork and champion the cause; we put the right plans and tools in place. This partnership helps your team build momentum toward the successful passage of your ballot issue. 

If your school district depends on public support for financing but struggles to pass critical levy or bond issues, call SHP. Better yet, call any of the 50 campaign committees we have helped pass bonds or levies for over the past 15 years!