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Research-Backed Strategy Drove Planned Parenthood's Election Success

Research-Backed Strategy Drove Planned Parenthood's Election Success

December 6, 2012 — Planned Parenthood Action Fund was the most effective political group in the 2012 election, with more than 98% of its spending going toward races that ended with its desired result, according to an analysis by the Sunlight Foundation, the Washington Post's "Wonkblog" reports. The organization spent about $15 million on this year's election, compared with $4 million in 2008.

The organization used a two-part strategy designed to sway voters away from Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. First, it used focus groups to identity which types of messages most strongly resonated with voters. PPAF's pollsters found that many female voters were unaware of Romney's reproductive health positions and that messages using his own words were most effective.

Next, PPAF used algorithms to identify a group of one million female voters, primarily in swing states, who were likely to support abortion rights and the federal contraceptive coverage rules.

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of PPAF, said, "Those were women that we were going to relentlessly target over and over and over again between June and November."

PPAF's "micro-targeting" included direct mail, canvassing, phone calls and television ads tailored to the receptive voters it had identified in various states, according to "Wonkblog."

Although the group largely focused on swing states, it also targeted voters in some solidly conservative states to boost turn out for its preferred candidates in congressional races (Kliff, "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 12/5).