Last week’s two Aberdeenshire Council by-elections illustrate the importance of targeting postal voters and using by-elections as opportunities practise and refine key campaign tasks ahead of the full Scottish Local Council elections next May.
In both by-elections Scottish Liberal Democrats increased our share of the vote over the results in 2012 in the face of hard-fought campaigns by SNP and Conservatives.
With two by-elections on the same day the decision was taken to target the campaign efforts at Inverurie and District where we won a seat in the 4-member ward in 2012 with 17.3% of 1st preference votes. We came 4th in the three-member Banff & District ward with 11.1% in 2012.
In Banff a very limited campaign targeted at postal voters paid dividends and resulted in Alastair Mason raising the Lib Dem vote to 19.8%, and pushed the number of Lib Dem voters even on a much reduced by-election turnout which was down 9%. Targeting this high-turnout section of voters has earned us a far stronger platform from which to win next year.
In Inverurie postal voters were targeted with direct mail and squeeze message. ALDC provided additional support with two telephone knock ups. The first for postal-voters and secondly on polling day. This helped push our vote up to 22.5, and increase the number of votes secured even with a reduced turnout. The by-election serves as a lesson on the scale and intensity of campaigning required to win, on the messaging and tactics of our opponents and how we need to modify and tighten ours. It also shows the level of resource that they can call on all give us a much clearer picture of what Alison Auld needs to do for next May.
The by-election serves as a lesson on the scale and intensity of campaigning required to win, on the messaging and tactics of our opponents and how we need to modify and tighten ours. It also shows the level of resource that they can call on all give us a much clearer picture of what Alison Auld needs to do for next May.
In both campaigns the experience gained in going through all the stages required to target the postal voters at the by-election will make things run much smoother next year. Getting the postal voters list onto Connect, producing the mailing list, doing the mail-merge, dusting down the clerical team, priming the deliverers to ensure that the letters hit the doorstep on the same day that the postal votes arrive with voters.
By-elections offer an ideal opportunity to practise getting out the postal vote and scraping the rust of your local campaign machine: Creating the virtual phone bank. Organising volunteers to make calls before and as people receive their postal votes. Working to deadlines. Getting volunteers used to cold-calling having done it all once makes it so much simpler next time.
For your help and that if ASLDC members.
LD candidate Inverurie & District candidate
Hi Peter, I was heavily involved in the Banff campaign. Just wanted to mention the use of Facebook as well. I am convinced that it also had an effect on the outcome in the ward. We were delighted with the increase in the vote.