political case studies

Like many counties in America, Barrow County, GA has experienced tremendous growth over the last decade. As often is the case, the upkeep of the county’s roads and bridges had failed to keep up with the wear and tear caused by increased traffic from locals and non-locals alike.

With the support of an intergovernmental agreement between Barrow’s county commissioners and mayors—along with the local Chamber of Commerce—a coalition was formed to create a ballot referendum that would fix the problem. 

The November 2023 referendum sought a dedicated revenue stream for infrastructure projects in the form of a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST).

The Challenge

Right out of the gate, the pro-TSPLOST coalition had a major problem: the last time a TSPLOST referendum was on the ballot in Barrow County, it was rejected with nearly 72% of the vote.

Convincing taxpayers to foot the bill for infrastructure improvements—that would also benefit businesses and citizens from outside of the county—was not going to be easy.

The coalition came to Arena with the task of putting together a targeted, direct mail and digital advertising campaign that would persuade pro-infrastructure voters to turn out in what was expected to be an extremely low turnout election.

Messaging Strategy

Arena determined the pro-TSPLOST coalition had three impactful messages it could deploy:

  1. Lower Property Taxes: Fiscal conservatives needed to know that only by voting Yes to TSPLOST, could they keep their property taxes low, while improving their roads.
  2. Increase Motor Safety: Statistics showed Barrow County roads experienced crashes and fatalities at a rate much higher than other counties. Households with children needed to know that passing TSPLOST would make their roads safer.
  3. Fair Tax: Traditional conservatives needed to understand that TSPLOST was a form of a Fair Tax. Traffic was getting worse in Barrow County because non-Barrow citizens were using the roads. Passing TSPLOST would ensure everyone who uses Barrow roads and highways would pay their fair share to improve them.

Targeting Strategy

For this campaign to be successful, Arena knew that targeting was going to be key. Our team decided to discard the traditional playbook of 4/4 GOP Primary, Low Propensity Republicans and Swing Voters. 

It would also be critical to get the right messages to the right audience, with an efficient and coordinated spend across numerous media platforms to maximize turnout. Teaming up with our long-term data-targeting partners, we created custom target audiences to support our messaging strategy. 

Then we got to work on display, video and direct mail designs focused on getting the voter’s attention online and in the mailbox.

Tactically, we treated each of the three messaging subgroups as separate turnout audiences. Once early voting began, Arena’s team had tailored designs ready for each audience, with persuasion messaging and voter education. 

This process continued through GOTV efforts with direct mail, online display and video advertising.

The Outcome

By Election Day, Arena had executed a direct mail plan that delivered tens of thousands of pieces, and a digital campaign that served millions of impressions and video views, along with thousands of clicks from targeted voters learning where to vote. 

As a result, overall turnout for the TSPLOST election exceeded predictions with the referendum passing with 64% of the vote.

If you would like the Arena team to help with your political or advocacy campaign, contact us today. We love sharing our expertise! Click here for more political case studies.

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