WEBSITE, DIGITAL ADS
The Iron Range region in northern Minnesota used to be a stronghold of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) party; in fact, the largest outside of the Twin Cities. However, as was the case with many white, rural, unionized populations, in 2016 Trump’s populist economic message changed the Range’s electoral profile.
Grant Hauschild, running to represent a large population on the Range, was projected to lose to his GOP opponent, Andrea Zupancich, by over 5 percentage points, giving him a slim chance of victory. In 2022, TFC partnered with Grant’s campaign to build his website and run his digital ad campaign. Given many Northland voters’ dislike of feeling like “big city money” was involved, they focused on highlighting Grant’s personality, his involvement in the community, and utilized ultra-local ads to align on values and not turn-off moderate constituents.
Grant Hauschild successfully flipped Minnesota’s 3rd Senate District, covering a vast expanse of the Arrowhead region, in 2022, which was crucial to flipping the chamber to Democratic control. Grant prevailed by a narrow margin of 742 votes; squeaking by with 50.8% of the total vote count.
Grant serves as the Execute Director of a healthcare foundation and also as a local city councilor in Hermantown. He brings a wide range of experience at the federal, state, and local level. From his time working in rural economic development for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), to his time serving as a labor policy aide to U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp. Now elected, Mr. Hauschild is focused on delivering results to his community, specifically focused on supporting families, keeping government out of women’s healthcare, and keeping the region safe by fixing the EMS funding gap.
Given Minnesota’s low campaign spending limits, the Hauschild campaign could not afford to hire a traditional digital vendor to achieve its digital needs, so leveraging expert volunteer teams to build a website, inform their paid digital media strategy, create digital ads, and execute the campaign allowed precious campaign dollars to be spent furthering voter outreach efforts.
“You all helped us flip a deeply rural district in Minnesota that very few people thought we could win. Not only that but it led Minnesota Democrats to take back the Senate Majority by 1 seat and take trifecta control of government. Your digital strategy helped us reach voters in a way our competitor simply didn’t understand. I think it made the difference and I’m grateful for everything you all did.”
With Grant being a transplant to the Northland running in a new Senate District, the team focused on introducing and educating voters about Grant and his priorities. Particularly in a district as large as SD-3, creating touch points with constituents is important to make them feel connected to the candidate and campaign. One key aspect to aid in this was that a video of Grant speaking about his background and ideas was the first thing a user encountered on the site. The site also allowed people to get involved with the campaign by donating or signing up for volunteer opportunities.
The Hauschild campaign was savvy and knew the importance of utilizing targeted digital comms to engage with his district, so Grant started early building a community on Facebook and leant heavily on boosting posts to maintain engagement and increase reach. TFC partnered with the campaign to create a robust strategy that not only used ultra-local social media targeting to address specific groups, but also efficiently and effectively distribute the professional video assets he had available on YouTube & Connected TV/OTT. This team did a lot of creative & message testing, running the highest number of messages of any TFC MN ‘22 candidate. These learnings were extremely valuable not only to the Hauschild campaign, but were also able to be leveraged successfully for other MN State Senate candidates who had similar positions or for teams looking to improve their ad designs.
The campaign served more than 1.8M digital ad impressions in a district of roughly 80k people. Leveraging digital media was a key differentiator between Grant’s and his opponent’s campaigns. In Minnesota where a candidate cannot spend much more than $100k, the cost efficiency and precise audience targeting available through digital ensured Grant’s dollars were highly effective at increasing name ID, persuasion, and getting voters to the polls. Selfie ads drove strong ad recall during the persuasion phase, EMS/police funding gap messaging consistently performed well, and worker-focused (union endorsement, skill training) messaging also drove strong results.
This win was critical for Minnesota, helping flip the Minnesota State Senate blue with a narrow margin of 34 D - 33 R, and creating a Democratic trifecta in the state.