John Bel Edwards was first elected as Governor of Louisiana in 2015 replacing Bobby Jindal in Baton Rouge. Edwards’ election as a Democratic Governor in a deep red state happened in the midst of a storm of scandals with former Republican Senator Vitter and was attributed to little more than a fluke.
Edwards’ 2019 reelection effort was poised to be an incredibly tight race. It all came down to the runoff between Edwards and Republican challenger Eddie Rispone.
Sapphire Strategies, an award-winning agency offering comprehensive digital strategy for Democratic campaigns and causes, ran Governor Edwards’ digital program. Sapphire Strategies used Deploy, Optimal’s award-winning self-serve programmatic platform, to place a significant portion of the digital media for the campaign. Deploy is designed for agencies and consultants as a one-stop shop for executing advanced media buying and won the 2020 Reed Award for “Most Innovative Product of the Year.”
With Deploy, Sapphire Strategies was able to run multiple digital advertising campaigns to targeted audience segments with their personalized creative.
However, Edwards’ reelection victory did not come easy. Eddie Rispone was a formidable opponent who had won the support of President Trump, who enjoyed an approval rating of over 65% in the State of Louisiana at the time. The GOP pegged Edwards’ seat as vulnerable and was a strong pickup opportunity given the historically low turnout in the state’s off-year elections. To protect the governor, Sapphire Strategies needed to leverage their data with the right tools to target, persuade, and turnout voters.
Sapphire Strategies created and targeted digital ads to segments of their custom audience including African-American voters.
In a state where 31% of the electorate are Black voters, Sapphire’s targeted ad campaigns to this crucial voter audience contributed to pushing John Bel Edwards to victory.
According to The New York Times, “Mr. Edwards saw a surge of support, largely among African-American voters and white moderates living in and around cities. Twenty percent of the African-Americans who voted early in the runoff had not participated in the state’s all-party primary, and there were considerable upticks in turnout around urban hubs like New Orleans and Baton Rouge.”
These voters who didn’t vote in the primary but did during the runoff election demonstrate the importance of GOTV campaigns in tight races.
Sapphire Strategies used Deploy to ensure GOTV messaging reached the right universe of voters. Leading up to election day on November 16th, Louisiana saw the highest ever turnout for a non-presidential election, up to 31% compared to the primary. In the end, Edwards won by 40,000 votes. His win in the State of Louisiana, especially during a time of redistricting, will help to pave the way for future Democratic wins and progressive policies.
Edwards’ reelection also highlights the importance of targeted digital advertising, personalized messaging, and using platforms like Deploy with voter file match rates up to 90%, precision targeting, and expansive reach.
Julia Ager, President, and Founder of Sapphire Strategies, said: “Deploy allows us to run hyper-targeted programmatic ad campaigns all in one, easy to use, self-serve platform. It’s powerful and intuitive with the best data and onboarding so we know we’re reaching the right voters”.