Hays Dems – Winning at the Midterms in 2022

Hays County is the fastest growing County in the US. Though it’s usually a mostly-blue dot surrounded by a sea of red, much migration into Hays is coming from voters who have not yet been ID’ed, if they are registered. This represents both a challenge and an opportunity for Hays County Democratic Party, aka HaysDems, who hired ODV Digital to drive their digital comms programming for the 2022 Midterms.

Our goal was not just to keep Hays blue and see off the strong pressure from the surrounding and encroaching red, but also to build out a better integrated digital comms strategy and infrastructure for the party, to see it forward into elections ahead.

We started by spending a lot of time learning and brainstorming with the party Chair, head of Comms, and heads of Field, Fundraising and Data. Bringing all strands of the party together to a place of both input into digital strategy and understanding of our mutual goals helped ensure better coordination, reducing waste through overlap, and the removal of blockers which had previously held up progress.

We landed on a digital strategy which integrated with a strong field outreach programme and targeted fundraising and volunteer recruitment from our Core. ODV Digital built a team of digital volunteers who helped to drive an ambitious cross-platform social media strategy. And we provided consultation and upskilling to the in-party staff on mass outreach across email and paid digital advertising.

We knew we needed to use our field team to help voter ID and register new arrivals to the county, but leveraged paid Meta ads to support this. And we needed them to listen to these new constituents to give us feedback on how messaging was landing “on the ground”.

Research told us that many new voters in Hays would be from hispanic communities, who might traditionally have leaned democrat, but would not be persuaded by a strong message which was pro-abortion rights, despite the overturning of Roe v Wade being salient during the campaign period. We used these insights to help inform our ad targeting and our message content, all of which was developed bilingually. 

For GOTV, our digital and ground teams both drove hard to encourage turnout, particularly from first time voters. We developed ‘how to vote’ messaging in Spanish to counter the risks of voter suppression and ensure all new Hays constituents felt empowered to vote.

The result was that we held or flipped every seat in Hays County blue, for the first time ever. Not since 2006 had Hays we elected a Democratic County Commissioners’ Court and DA – to quote the head of Field, “A Blue Wave for sure!”

And we helped to build a party infrastructure which is being celebrated at national level. Our work was awarded the Best Use of Digital by the American Association of Political Consultants.

Not bad for a little dot in Texas.

Head of Comms for Hays Dems, Gina Fant-Simon, said of Clare and the ODV Digital team:

As always, you exceeded my expectations. And I continue to learn SO much from you. You are patient and brilliant and kind and therapeutic and I couldn’t be more grateful to work with you.

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