Success Story: James Thompson for U.S. Congress

Kansas 4th Special Election - April 2017 - Paid Digital Ads


Overview

Team of four Tech for Campaigns volunteers boosts democratic candidate James Thompson's Facebook following from 1,300 to 10,000; Thompson defies expectations and comes within single digits of flipping a district that elected a Republican by more than 30% in 2016.

Background

Kansas' 4th district last elected a Democrat in 1992. In 2016, the district went for Donald Trump by 30%, and re-elected Republican Mike Pompeo to the House by an even greater margin.

When Pompeo was tapped by the Trump administration to lead the CIA, civil rights attorney and Army veteran James Thompson stepped up to challenge Republican Ron Estes for the seat. But Thompson's campaign was seen as a long shot at best, and resources in any form -- money, volunteers, awareness, or enthusiasm -- were correspondingly sparse.

The Team

Tech for Campaigns deployed a team of four marketing and design pros to help the Thompson campaign optimize their digital outreach:

Renee Diresta
Caroline McCarthy
Ethan Chen
Kate Basye

 

“These volunteers brought a different perspective and skill sets that helped us come up with fresh ideas and reach new demographics. TFC instantly grew the campaign's social media reach.”

– Thompson for Kansas Campaign Manager Colin Curtis

Left to right:

The Project

Over 30 days, the team deployed media campaigns on Facebook, Twitter, and Google, customizing and targeting ads to reach 100+ unique custom audiences. In the final days of the campaign, the team ran Get Out The Vote messaging on Facebook and Twitter, and launched a two-pronged Google AdWords campaign designed to help likely Thompson voters find their polling places while encouraging probable Estes supporters to consider the Libertarian candidate as an alternative.

The Results

The TFC team made an incredible impact on voter awareness and engagement. Thompson's Facebook following rose from 1,300 to 10,000, and average likes per post rose from of 20 to 600. The GOTV AdWords campaign saw more than 20,000 impressions and more than 2,000 clicks, and similar ads run on Google Display Network saw more than 2 million impressions and over 6,000 clicks.

In the end, Thompson did lose -- but by only 7%, in a district that had elected a Republican by more than three times that margin just a few months earlier. The unexpectedly close race ultimately demanded the attention of top Republican leaders, distracting from other party priorities; Ted Cruz travelled to Kansas to campaign for Ron Estes in person, and both Donald Trump and Mike Pence recorded robocalls. Thompson's surprise showing garnered national media attention, and galvanized candidates and progressive voters in other "safe" Republican districts across the country.


“As the Thompson campaign gained traction in the media, it was really cool to be able to say, "I'm a part of that!"”

– TFC Volunteer/Salesforce Product Designer Kate Basye

 
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