Greener Grassroots – Campaign Mail Call

Just about every political candidate uses the postal service to deliver messages to voters. Find out about campaign mail that doesn’t just get tossed.

If you’re a frequent voter like me, chances are that you get a lot of mail around election time. Newsletters, brochures, letters, small postcards, large postcards, even poster-sized folded mailers start spilling out of my mailbox. I’m so used to it that I simply start a pile on the dining table at the start of each election cycle, and let it accumulate until I’m ready to deal with it. And by deal with it, I usually mean file it in the round file. With nearly twenty years of activism and many more of voting history, I’ve seen so many mail pieces that they tend to all look alike to me.

But every once in a while, I come across a mail piece that catches my attention. This one came to my house this week, giving me the perfect opportunity to talk about campaign mailers. Let’s look at the front first.

This mailer is the essence of simplicity. It has one message: remove this judge. It even includes a hashtag so you can presumably find out more about her, and what makes her so heinous. The donkey designed to mimic the Republican elephant symbol is a nice touch too.

Here’s the back, as well:

Again, simplicity rules. Merely a picture of the judge (accompanied by the text ‘with a bunch of Democrats’ underneath) and the words from the front of the card repeated where a sender’s address would be. Other than the addressee space and the mail permit information, there’s nothing else to see.

So now that we’ve taken an initial look at the card, let’s see what we can learn from it.
  • First, there’s no return address given. I have no idea who mailed this card, nor can I find contact information if I wanted to contact anyone involved about it.
  • Next, there’s no website I’m directed to where I can learn more, nor any social media accounts referenced so I can learn who might be behind this mailer.
  • There’s also no political advertising disclaimer on this piece. Each state treats political advertising differently, but every state has requirements of some sort that must be followed. I looked into Texas’s ethics laws on political advertising, and this card definitely fits.
  • There IS a hashtag, but it hasn’t been used on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, or Instagram. A publicized hashtag without any activity seems like a waste.

All these omissions in the card have me very skeptical about this piece. They raise a lot of questions that you could find helpful when evaluating YOUR political mail.

Who’s behind this effort to oust this judge? Is it a future Republican primary opponent? A Democrat general election opponent? A person who has been before her in court and didn’t like the outcome? Why is the sender not revealed? Is the sender ignorant of the disclaimer law, or purposely trying to get around it? Why send the piece so far ahead of the next election? Filing deadlines for the 2018 primary are at least eight months away, and the general election is nearly a year after that.

Furthermore, why not include more information, or a site where recipients can find out WHY this judge is supposedly so incompetent? Am I just supposed to take the sender’s word for it? And why create a hashtag if there is no activity for it on any major social media platforms? Is the sender ignorant of social media or afraid using the hashtag would reveal who sent the piece?

Other than the very simple nature of the card, it’s a bad mailer. But as one of my mottos is ‘You can learn something from just about everyone,’ I wanted to use this opportunity to show you what NOT to do. Of course, I also want to provide you with good information about how to do one correctly as well. One of the best campaign literature guides I’ve found is from Wellstone. (It would be worth it to bookmark their site, because where you find one good resource, there are usually others nearby.)

So whether you’re looking at how to create your own mail piece, or just evaluating the ones that flood your mailbox, you can be armed with good resources and questions to judge them with. Doing it right isn’t too difficult, but it’s a valuable skill that you can add to your toolbox.