CAMPAIGN TACTICS

All too frequently library campaigns are grassroots, low-budget, low-activity, non-targeted efforts, relatively unsophisticated efforts run without the benefit of a campaign consultant or even a voter opinion poll.
NATIONAL

The following table shows how library administrators ranked the importance of various campaign tacfics for their campaigns. Rankings were performed on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most important:
Ranked Importance of Campaign Tactics

(Library Journal data 1987-1989)
Campaign Tactic 
Avg.
Ranking 
Pamphlets, fact sheets, bookmarks, etc. 
Newspaper ads, feature articles 
Press releases 
Letters to the editor, editorials 
Community group presentations 
Endorsements by community leaders 
Library Friends group 
Mass mailings (postcards, flyers, etc.) 
Volunteers' telephone contact 
Public forums 
Use of previous precinct voting records 
Private business participation 
Chamber of commerce participation 
AV (slide or videotape) presentations 
Radio spots 
Yard signs 
Organized door-to-door contact 
Hire a public relations firm or consultant 
Television spots 
Pre-vote poll of registered voters 
7.93
7.49
7.08
6.42
6.34
6.29
6.21
5.56
4.69
4.55
3.33
2.95
2.63
2.60
2.51
2.45
2.21
1.47
1.39
1.34 
Pamphlets, fact sheets, newspaper ads, press releases, letters to the editor, community presentations and endorsements were some of the most commonly used campaign methods for library measures. 

CALIFORNIA

State level information confirms the heavy reliance on low-budget, community based tactics (pamphlets, fact sheets, grassroots organizations and community presentations): 
Use of Campaign Tactics
 
Used Heavily 
Used Some 
Used 
Pamphlets/Fact Sheets 
59.5% 
27.05 
86.5% 
Grassroots Organizations 
58.0% 
27.0% 
85.0% 
Community Presentations 
36.5% 
43.2% 
79.7% 
Mailings 
33.8% 
43.2% 
77.0% 
Posting Signs 
32.4% 
44.6% 
77.0% 
Media Spots 
23.0% 
39.2% 
62.2% 
Door-to-door Canvassing 
23.0% 
29.7% 
52.7% 
Telephone Canvassing 
31.1% 
18.9% 
50.0% 
Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) 
20.0% 
27.0% 
47.0% 
Polls 
20.0% 
21.2% 
41.2% 
The use of sophisticated campaign tactics such as media spots, door-to-door canvassing, telephone canvassing, GOTV and polling is relatively low for the campaigns held in California. 


CAMPAIGN TACTICS & SUCCESS

In California those campaign tactics which were used the least often, were, in fact, some of the most effective at insuring success, in addition, the tactics which were being used most frequently were less likely to insure success. 
CALIFORNIA

Almost every form of campaign activity increases not only the percentage of "Yes" voters, but also the chance of success. A corollary is that active campaigns generally do better than inactive ones. 
% of Measures
Passed 
Average %
Yes Vote 
With Door-to-Door Canvassing 
Without Door-to-Door Canvassing 
82%
50% 
68%
59% 
With GOTV 
Without GOTV 
80%
38% 
67%
56% 
With Telephone Canvassing 
Without Telephone Canvassing 
78%
44% 
68%
56% 
With Targeting 
Without Targeting 
74%
33% 
65%
56% 
With Mailings 
Without Mailings 
72%
74% 
68%
54% 
With Media Spots 
Without Media Spots 
71%
48% 
66%
60% 
With Polling 
Without Polling 
67%
40% 
68%
56% 
With Community Presentations 
Without Community Presentations 
64%
50% 
66%
54% 
With Pamphlets 
Without Pamphlets 
64%
37% 
64%
47% 
With Signs 
Without Signs 
62%
33% 
65%
55% 
With Grassroots Organization 
Without Grassroots Organization 
58%
30% 
63%
48% 

THE IMPACT OF TARGETING

A look at the campaign tactic of targeting is illustrative. The most important reasons to poll are to identify sympathetic target groups and uncover the arguments and campaign messages ?hat will most effectively influence those target groups to support the ballot measure. 
CALIFORNIA

Close to 40% of all campaigns made no effort to target specific groups at all. 

However, those campaigns which did target improved not only their percentage of "Yes" voters (by almost 10%), but also significantly improved their chance of success (by over 40 percentage points): 
 
% of Measures
Passed 
Average %
Yes Vote 
Targeted Campaigns 
74%
65%
Little/No Targeting 
33%
56%
This doesn't even speak to the issue of the quality of targeting for a campaign.

 Target Groups 

The most heavily targeted groups were seniors and families with children:
 
Targeted
Heavily 
Targeted
Some 
Targeted 
Seniors 
19.2% 
19.2% 
38.4% 
Families w/ Children 
17.8% 
19.2% 
37.0% 
Homeowners 
15.1% 
5.5% 
20.6% 
High Education Level 
2.7% 
13.7% 
16.0% 
Women Voters 
1.4% 
8.2% 
9.6% 
Seniors were heavily targeted presumably because they are frequent voters.


CAMPAIGN MESSAGES & THEME
CALIFORNIA

The following table shows the most heavily used campaign messages & themes:
 
Targeted
Heavily 
Targeted
Some 
Total
Targeted 
Children 
54.9% 
31.0% 
85.9% 
Quality of Life 
55.7% 
27.1% 
82.8% 
Library Performance 
31.0% 
29.6% 
60.6% 
New Technologies 
19.7% 
33.8% 
53.5% 
Adolescents 
9.9% 
33.8% 
43.7% 
Economic Development 
5.6% 
33.8% 
39.4% 
Literacy 
12.7% 
12.7% 
25.4% 
  
The most common message was that libraries are 
important for their impact on children: 
HENCE THE TARGETING OF FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN.
The next most common message was that libraries 
improve the quality of life: 
HENCE THE TARGETING OF HOMEOWNERS.


VOTER OPINIONS IMPACT
CAMPAIGN ARGUMENTS
CALIFORNIA
Children

In the 1994 Binder Statewide California Voter Survey, the strongest voter opinion was:

"Libraries play an essential role in the education of our children." 
  
Agree
Strongly 
Agree
Somewhat 
Agree
Total 
Californians 
80.5% 
16.6% 
95.1% 

These sentiments about children and libraries are generally shared throughout the nation.
 
Quality of Life

In the 1994 Binder Statewide California Voter Survey, the second strongest voter opinion was:

"Public libraries are essential to the quality of life of my community." 
 
Agree
Strongly 
Agree
Somewhat 
Agree
Total 
Californians 
69.7% 
21.2% 
90.8% 
Library Performance Record


 the 1994 Binder Statewide California Voter Survey:

60.2% of the respondents gave public libraries an "Excellent" or "Good" rating. 

  
In the Institute for the Future's Statewide Survey, public libraries receive a fairly consistent "Excellent" rating by the public regardless of their income level:
Excellent Rating is Fairly Consistent

(Percent of Public Who Rate the Public Library Excellent)
ChartObject Chart 1
Technology

In the 1994 Binder Statewide California Voter Survey, the fourth strongest opinion was:

"Libraries should spend more to provide access to computer databases." 
  
Agree Strongly 
Agree Somewhat 
Agree
Total 
Californians 
48.7% 
30.8% 
79.5% 
Sometimes the technology issue can be seen as a "double-edged sword" for libraries, since some people perceive rapidly developing technologies as negating the need for libraries in the future.

However, 63% of the public disagreed strongly with the assertion that: 

"Due to computers, funds should not be spent on library buildings."  
Young Adults & Crime

In the 1994 Binder Statewide California Voter Survey, the sixth strongest opinion was:

"Well funded libraries can reduce the crime rate." 
  
Agree
Strongly 
Agree
Somewhat 
Agree
Total 
Californians 
36.8% 
26.2% 
63.0% 

This issue is important in communities where the public is concerned about the well-being of their young adults. Libraries are often seen as a wholesome alternative to "hanging out on the streets" and "getting in trouble."

The recent San Jose Public Library, San Jose, California, campaign made heavy use of this theme in its campaign literature (See "A Smart Strategy for Measure E" by Jim Fish Library Journal Vol.121, No.11, (June 15, 1996) pp.38-39).
Economic Development

While there is relatively little information about this subject in recent California surveys, it is generally recognized that libraries are beneficial to the process of attracting new business and industry to a community.


Increased business investments in a community creates jobs and economic growth and frequently results in increased residential property values, thus the inherent benefit of libraries to taxpayers and homeowners.
Literacy

Using literacy as a campaign message or theme is not common in library campaigns, but it is a potentially very powerful argument, particularly in areas where illiteracy is high. As the results on the next page show, the effectiveness of this argument with the voter should not be overlooked.


REASONS FOR SUCCESS OR FAILURE
CALIFORNIA

Approval levels based on targeted campaign messages and themes: 
% of Measures
Passed 
Average %
Yes Vote 
Library Performance Record 
65% 
64% 
Literacy 
60% 
64% 
New Technologies 
57% 
64% 
Children 
55% 
53% 
Quality of Life 
63% 
62% 
Economic Development 
43% 
60% 
Adolescents 
43% 
56% 

The library's performance record has been an effective way to successfully "sell" the library issue in almost two-thirds of the California campaigns.

Surprisingly, literacy is the issue which comes in second in effectiveness, even though it is utilized relatively infrequently as a campaign message or theme.

New technologies ranks third in effectiveness, and may even carry more weight in recent campaigns given the fact that of the Cain study went back to 1978 when new technology was probably less of an issue than it has been in recent years.

Children came in fourth which is surprisingly low given that it is the most commonly used campaign theme by California libraries.

Similarly, the quality of life issue came in relatively low given its frequent use as a theme which raises some question as to how effective this issue really is with the taxpayer and homeowner.

The remaining issues of economic development and adolescents ranked the lowest in overall effectiveness.
NATIONAL

While various campaign messages and themes have not been tracked nationally, library administrators were as: ked for three consecutive years to evaluate how various factors affected the success or failure of their campaigns for library buildings.
Success

The following table shows how library administrators ranked the importance of various items to the success of their campaigns. Rankings were performed on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most important:
Significance Factors for Success of Library Capital Campaign

(Library Journal data 1987-1989)
Item  Avg. 
Ranking 
Need for new/improved buildings 

Quality of library service in the past 

Public relations efforts 

Activity of Friends group/library board 

Campaign organization efforts 

Educational level of community 

Timing of vote 

Endorsements by community leaders 

Building design, cost of location 

Socioeconomic level of community 

Economic climate 

Involvement of the business community 

Increase in taxation 

Competing item on ballot 

Organized opposition  
9.35
8.50
7.84
7.50
7.22
6.44
6.38
6.37
5.86
5.76
5.48
3.37
3.27
1.73
1.53 
The most important factor for success was the perceived need for the new or improved library building on the part of the voter.

As with the California campaigns, the quality of library service provided in the past was very important to the voters.

The public relations efforts as well as the activities of the library board, friends and campaign organization were all important as well.
Failure

The following table shows how library administrators ranked the importance of various items to the failure of their campaigns. Rankings were performed on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most important:
Significance Factors for Failure of Library Capital Campaigns

(Library Journal data 1987-1989)
Item 
Avg.
Ranking 
Increase in taxation 

Timing of vote 

Economic climate 

Organized opposition 

Building design, cost of location 

Public relations efforts 

Socioeconomic level of community 

Campaign organization efforts 

Educational level of community 

Activity of Friends group/library board 

Need for new/improved buildings 

Competing item on ballot 

Quality of library service in the past 

Endorsements by community leaders 

Involvement of the business community  
7.94
7.42
7.06
6.36
5.33
5.15
4.61
4.49
4.39
4.21
3.70
3.70
3.33
3.18
2.73 
The old nemesis of increased taxation is the single most important factor which commonly defeats library building campaigns (as probably any other type of library campaign). This is particularly true for communities with strong a anti-tax sentiment.

The timing of the vote is the second most important issue, however, this factor is difficult to pin down since it is so multifaceted.

Obviously, the condition of the economy can have a significant impact on the outcome of a library campaign. When voters perceive their economic security is threatened, they are less likely to vote for issues which mean higher taxes.

Organized opposition can kill a library measure very quickly if it is vocal and effective, particularly if it is combined with any of the above issues.

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