Voters Not Politicians
Yes on 2: From Grassroots Campaign to National Phenomenon
Goal: Secure 50%+1 of the statewide vote for a ballot initiative to end partisan gerrymandering with broad support across Michigan counties.
- 2020 PRSA East Central District Diamond Award for Yes on Proposal 2 Campaign
- 2019 PRSA National Silver Anvil Award for Yes on Proposal 2 Campaign
- 2019 American Association of Political Consultants Bronze Pollies Award for Ballot Initiatives
- 2019 CMPRSA Best in Show for Public Affairs Campaigns
- 2019 CMPRSA Pinnacle Award for Public Affairs Campaign
- 2019 CMPRSA Award of Excellence for Special Events Tactic
- 2019 CMPRSA Pinnacle Award for Feature Stories Tactic
- 2019 CMPRSA Award of Excellence for Innovative Tactics
- 2019 CMPRSA Award of Excellence for Media/Press Kits Tactic
- 2019 CMPRSA Pinnacle Award for Newsletters Tactic
- 2019 CMPRSA Pinnacle Award for Video Programs Tactic
For primary research, VNP held four focus groups with moderate, conservative and African American voters in Detroit and Grand Rapids to inform a statewide poll of 1,000 likely Michigan voters to guide communication strategy including demographic targets, key messages and likely opposition messaging. That research drove door-to-door, traditional and paid messaging. After paid ads launched, subsequent polling found a 14-point increase in support and an 8-point decline in opposition. This insight influenced further paid media investments and earned media messaging in target areas.
As the election neared, weekly tracking polls assessed the effectiveness of our, and our opponents’, ads and earned media messaging. We also tested digital and TV ads to optimize performance and finalize messaging.
The state’s Qualified Voter File was analyzed to determine target audiences of most likely voters, reviewing past voting behaviors and partisan voting data. We also interviewed consultants and experts who passed redistricting reforms in other states to develop best practices.
Action Plan & Communication:
Two days after the 2016 election, 27-year-old Katie Fahey posted on Facebook to see who would like to “take on gerrymandering in Michigan.” The post went viral; thousands of citizens stepped up to create Voters Not Politicians (VNP), a citizen-led movement to end gerrymandering. It was an uphill battle. Polling showed redistricting was a foreign concept to most voters. Political leaders scoffed; business and special interest groups announced opposition. No funders stepped up. Still, VNP grew as new volunteers signed up daily, coordinated largely on social media. All-volunteer grassroots energy propelled the organization to collect 425,000 signatures to put Proposal 2 on the ballot, overcome a lawsuit that went all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court, fight back against a vicious opposition campaign and inform millions of voters across the state with earned media, television ads, social media and one-on-one voter contact. Ultimately, Proposal 2 passed with 61% of the vote, changing Michigan’s political landscape for decades to come.
Martin Waymire played a pivotal role in VNP’s evolution from an all-volunteer organization to a sophisticated statewide campaign by helping to build a campaign structure, grow and manage coalitions, develop budgets, create fundraising plans and craft and implement a comprehensive, integrated communications strategy using earned and paid media, with an emphasis on digital.
- Proposal 2 passed with 61% of the vote (over 2.5 million votes), winning 67 of 83 counties. VNP outperformed Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and won counties that voted for President Trump in 2016.
- More than 1,525 pieces of media coverage from the launch of the campaign through the election, including three pieces in the New York Times and coverage in The Washington Post, The Hill, Elle and 38 letters to the editor published in newspapers across Michigan.
- Twelve Michigan publications officially endorsed Proposal 2 including the Detroit Free Press.
- Over $15 million raised, with 98% of supporters donating $250 or less and 28,641 total contributions.
- 21,441 followers on social media, with top posts reaching 81K+ users on Facebook and 1.6M+ on Twitter.