Campaigns Turn To Text Messages To Reach Kansas Voters

Oct 25, 2018

It’s campaign season, meaning candidates are filling television airwaves and mailboxes with political advertising. Now, campaigning has spread onto another platform: your smartphone.

Text messages from campaigns and advocacy groups aren't new, but they have become more common. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign back in 2008 used texting, according to Dustin Morris, with the Singularis Group, a Republican consulting firm in Johnson County.

Consultants and campaigns have had to shift to new strategies over time as many people give up landline telephones and make other changes in their behavior.

Morris said new technology has made it easier for campaigns to target cell phones with texts. Texting can also be as cheap as two cents or less, and it can be effective.

“People are more likely to engage with it,” Morris said. “Some people prefer a text message over a phone call because it’s less intrusive.”

In addition, texts are more targeted than other means campaigns can use.

“You know that, with a higher certainty, you’re actually reaching the voters you need to contact,” Morris said.

Morris said the most effective text messages are personalized and drive voters to take some kind of action, such as going to the polls or providing other types of information.

Now, texting can be part of a successful overall campaign, Morris said. A typical strategy could involve contacting voters in multiple ways. That can include emails, traditional campaign mailings and television.

If you’ve had enough of the texts, campaigns are required to stop contacting you if you reply to a message and tell them to stop.

“They are obligated to remove you from their list,” Morris said. “I know some people probably do get annoyed with them.”

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse Reporter for Kansas Public Radio, a partner in the Kansas News Service with KCUR, KMUW, and High Plains Public Radio. Follow him on Twitter @kprkoranda.