A major strength of postcards is that postcards can be highly impactful on a relational level. These powerful effects involve many interrelated people, e.g., family, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances.
The first example of postcarding’s relational capabilities is that the effects of a single postcard can spread like a pebble tossed into a pool. An anecdote from my own experience: a close friend of mine, a former teacher who lives in NY, was voting in a race for a town school board. She had paid only marginal attention to the race and, almost by default, she planned to vote for the candidate recommended by the local board.
My friend’s daughter came home for a visit one afternoon, saying that she had received a postcard introducing a different school board candidate. The postcard caught her eye, and she shared that this new candidate sounded really interesting. My friend was intrigued, so their two families spent a week researching the candidate introduced by the postcard. Finally, all five family members decided to vote for the new candidate rather than the one supported by the school board. Five votes from one postcard! And who knows how many other people were convinced by my friend and her family.
While the above example features a local race, the ultimate effects on voting behavior may spread beyond local communities and can influence state or national races as well as local.
“Grassroots volunteers are essential to activist organizations and their campaigns. “
The second example of the relational importance of postcards is the generation of activated volunteers – namely YOU! Grassroots volunteers are essential to activist organizations and their campaigns. Postcards generate enthusiasm among those who write them, and this enthusiasm spreads like infectious laughter. One result is new recruitment. For example, from the postcard group that I manage, several members have been inspired to form new groups of their own, increasing our ranks of activated volunteers.
One of these new group leaders, a former postcarder and friend of mine, moved to a senior community. There she found residents hungry to participate in the election process, and they were eager to write postcards. Postcarding fever rapidly spread throughout the community, as it was meaningful and not restricted by age or disability. Postcard writing parties took place in the community’s activity room, where residents wrote postcards together. As my friend described it, the 80-year olds wrote on the postcards while the 90-year olds put on stamps and address labels!
So how does this recruitment of new activists through postcarding directly benefit the ultimate goals of winning elections? It’s simple – activated volunteers VOTE and DONATE.
And they have friends, family, and acquaintances who are encouraged to do the same, causing a ripple effect that will definitely affect elections.
The point here is, don’t be disheartened by research studies that find relatively small levels of effectiveness through postcarding. (Read more) Remember that even a small contribution can have an outsized effect in small or close elections! And the two examples above show that postcards can gain even more impact through relational effects.
So postcarding really works! Go for it – participate fully in the process, let your enthusiasm spread, and watch us keep winning!