In 2020, the country was in the midst of one of the most tumultuous and consequential election cycles in history. For many, the focus was on the presidential, and most issues were viewed through a national lens. However, in Texas, which has historically had one of the worst rates of political participation in the country, the Workers Defense Project set out to engage and mobilize young Latino and Black voters to turn out to not only vote in the presidential election but to turn their attention to the important races taking place in the state legislature. Working closely with WDP, we helped plan, launch, and manage a $170,000 campaign urging young voters of color to turn out and vote, laying the foundation for flipping the Texas state legislature in years to come.
We built and launched a cross-channel paid media program targeting Black and Latino voters over a compressed timeline as WDP had received a late, sudden influx of funding and needed to launch as soon as feasibly possible. We ran compelling videos highlighting real-life stories of young people from across Texas explaining how politics and state legislative elections impact their families and day-to-day lives. We took a county by county approach and developed a media plan for Facebook and YouTube that took into account the number of 18-24 voters, their modeled persuasion and turnout scores, and the historical competitiveness of the region. Additionally, we worked with a data partner to secure first-party lists of infrequent voters and first-time voters to ensure we targeted the voters who could make the greatest impact.
Young voters showed up like never before to vote in state legislative elections marking a major inflection point in grassroots efforts to pursue higher turnout and enthusiasm for state and local elections. Texas did not have particularly facilitative election policies during the pandemic. For example, they did not have an online voter registration option and COVID-19 was not accepted as a valid excuse for requesting an absentee ballot. Despite these challenges, the state saw a 13% increase in youth voter turnout in 2020 when compared to 2016. Our paid media campaign was seen by over 1 million voters ages 18-24 and our videos were seen over 12 million times and helped generate numerous election write-ups about the record levels of youth voter participation in Texas.