person drawing with laptop and coffee nearby

Friend-to-Friend outreach technologies:  Harnessing the Power of Behavioral Science and Personal Connection

This race is about people versus money:  They’ve got money, we’ve got people.”  — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

The media and others sometimes measure a candidate’s capacity to win an election by focusing on the size of the candidate’s “war chest.”  But recently, some candidates with big “war chests” have been beaten by candidates who have less money but stronger voter networks.  So a candidate who can build a strong voter network need not necessarily fear a candidate with a bigger “war chest.”  Indeed, a candidate may, as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did, turn the issue into a powerful campaign slogan and battle cry:  “This race is about people versus money:  They’ve got money, we’ve got people.

Candidates who make “money in politics” a campaign issue have some advantages:  (1) voters already believe that money corrupts our political system; and (2) candidates who make “money in politics” a campaign issue may find that voters are more willing to engage and help them get elected — and, thereby, enhance the candidate’s network.

Studies have shown that canvassing is the most effective persuasion technique available to a candidate.  But two new complementary Friend-to-Friend outreach technologies — technologies that harness the unique power of personal connections — have emerged:

These technologies — when used together and simultaneously with traditional canvassing — are potentially powerful enough to change the dynamics of a campaign by making informal voter networks more effective “influencers” than the advertising purchased with a large campaign “war chest.”  Such technologies work because they rely on behavioral science-based Principles of Persuasion, such as “Reciprocity,” “Consistency,” “Liking,” and “Consensus.”

The impact of these technologies may be enhanced if candidates encourage use of behavioral science-based wording in the Friend-to-Friend messages sent on their behalf — such as: So many of our neighbors are voting and supporting this candidate — join them!

Vote Tripling

Harness the Untapped Power of Non-Activists:  Because it is simple and low-ask, it is perhaps an ideal way to both engage and leverage the contacts of non-activists — and about 96% of voters are non-activists. is a 2-phase voter turnout tactic that nudges people to get three friends to vote.

Phase 1—RecruitAsk supporter if you can count on them to hold 3 friends accountable to vote. As part of this ask, the “Vote Tripler” shares their cell phone number and the first names of the three friends they will urge to vote.

Phase 2—Remind:  Before Election Day, the Vote Tripler receives a text message from the campaign thanking them for encouraging their friends to vote and reminding them of the names of the people they pledged to mobilize.

VoterCircle is a relatively “higher-ask” relational organizing platform — because it asks the participant to become more involved in the campaign.  However, VoterCircle is a powerful persuasion technology that comes with a privacy protection component —  and it is well worth learning about both its outreach and privacy features.  Candidates may want to explore the possibility of using both and — and then offering volunteers and voters the opportunity to participate in one or the other.

Particularly impressive are comments about published on its homepage — comments by the Founder/President of Emerge America, by the CEO of the DNC, and by Ro Khanna, now a Congressman.

But there’s more.  Dr. Lindsey Cormack, reporting on a study wrote:  It is “not so much the medium, but the messenger that matters in driving turn out. In an increasingly technologically powered and impersonal world, the power of human connection still prevails.”  Dr. Cormack ends the study concluding: “For practitioners and campaigns the take away is quite clear — the reception of an email from a peer facilitated by the VoterCircle platform is associated with a significant increase in the likelihood that the recipient casts a ballot. For no demographic did a VoterCircle email lead to fewer votes, and instead it is quite impactful across many subgroups. In a reality where local elections turn on fewer voters, campaigns continue to rise in cost, and levels of voter trust erode, platforms such as VoterCircle may be a best bet. This method leverages peer-to-peer connections to inform voters, reduce costs for those running campaigns, and effectively increases voter participation.”

Here’s more information on