Columbus, Ohio — This election cycle, Conservation Ohio burst on to the Ohio political scene, set out to make a splash, and delivered in a huge way. With our skilled leadership, experts in field, digital, and communications, and support from both in-state and national partners, we excelled in every facet of operations. Our support of US Senator Sherrod Brown even earned him the accusation from his opponent of being in the pocket of “Big Environment,” a charge we sure don’t mind.
With a strong slate of endorsed environmental champions in Rich Cordray, Betty Sutton, Sherrod Brown, and Danny O’Connor, we kicked our work into high gear to help push them across the finish line.
We started our massive canvass operation in July, months before independent expenditure operations typically begin. We would eventually get to a strong team of 79 canvassers who reached out to 277,000 voters across Cleveland, Columbus, Lorain, and Toledo, with our partner LCV Victory Fund heading up a field program in Cincinnati. This number will grow to nearly 350,000 by the time the polls close on November 6.
We knew to make an impact we had to rethink how things have historically been done in Ohio. Our program invested early in Ohio-specific polling and other research, which influenced our strategy and tactics across field and digital. We continually refined our messaging by monitoring real-time reactions in the field and online and then pushed those results back for further testing.
With healthcare and the economy as established top-of-mind issues for Ohio voters, we sought to incorporate our environmental priorities within the frame of these existing topics, focusing on clean energy jobs and public health. We found that this created far more opportunity to have the candidates and media engage with our issues, rather than wrestling attention from the issues the candidates had tested and knew would move voters.
Another change from previous election cycles was our heavy focus on digital, with $500,000 of our total $3.3 million spend focused on digital ads on Facebook and pre-roll video. Based on our research and polling, we targeted Ohio women to persuade them to vote for our endorsed candidates.
The real revelation of the cycle was our cohesion with fellow Ohio independent expenditure operations. We partnered with For Our Future Ohio, America Votes, and Planned Parenthood Votes Ohio, and were able to pool resources and skills in order for each group to own their lane, ensuring as a group we could maximize resources and opportunities. Conservation Ohio’s prowess was evident, with Hannah Tyler serving as the GOTV Digital lead, and Kate McCleese serving as GOTV Field lead. Our coalition depended on our leadership, and we delivered.
By the end of the election, Conservation Ohio was a true powerhouse, critical to coalition success, serving as a hub of skill, talent, and resources to push Cordray, Sutton, Brown, and O’Connor towards victory.