NEWSLETTER: Q&A with Austin Buholtz | Dialing for Votes is the Future of Campaigns

April 7, 2023

Q&A with Account Executive Austin Buholtz

Austin Buholtz graduated from the University of Florida, earning a degree in Political Science and certifications in Political Campaigning and International Relations. In 2020, he was a part of Florida Congresswoman Kat Cammack’s 10-way Republican Primary and General Election victories. Since joining Ascent, he has worked on various campaigns from Senate and Congressional to state and local races.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A marine biologist. As a child growing up in Florida, I was always fascinated by the ocean and marine life. I loved catching fish, filleting them, and then learning about how they work and what they ate. While I love to catch and eat fish and other seafood, I’m still very much a conservationist at heart.

How did you end up involved in politics?
I’ve always had a passion for history, as well as politics, but I lacked experience. While in college at the University of Florida, I was stuck trying to decide what to major in. I had the opportunity to intern for Kat Cammack’s Congressional race, and I found my calling. I got to know Derek Dufresne through Kat’s race, and I reached out to him after we won. After a summer internship with Ascent Strategic, I began working my first real fulltime job in politics. I somehow am now approaching 2 years with Ascent, and I have learned a lot about politics thanks to working with one of the best teams in the business.

Tell me your best political story or favorite political memory.
My favorite political memory would be at Kat Cammack’s first election victory party. It was the first campaign I had ever been a part of, and it felt so amazing to see all that hard work pay off. Not only was I proud of our team’s efforts, but I was taken aback by the reality that I had played a role (however small it may have been) in getting a person that I knew and had the utmost respect for elected to the United States House of Representatives.

How do you spend your free time?
If I am stuck at home, I love watching movies and tv shows. I’m currently watching the new season of Succession on HBO, and I am also a fan of all things Star Wars. When I’m not at home, you can find either find me at sporting events, like Florida Gator Football or Baseball, or by the beach doing some saltwater fishing.

What is the best concert you’ve attended?
If you can believe it, I just attended my first concert this past week! I went to Houston to watch the Men’s College Basketball Final Four, and they had a free concert for ticket-holders to see country artists like Keith Urban and Tim McGraw. Both of them were fantastic. I love country music, so it was hard not to have a good time.

The Future of Political Campaigns is in Your Pocket: Why Dialing for Votes is the Future of Campaigns

If it’s not in your pocket, it’s almost certainly in your hand right now. In today’s world, people are constantly checking and swiping through their phones, often to the point of excess. For better or worse, the average American’s life revolves heavily around their cell phone, and this is a trend that is not going away. A 2020 survey by Pew Research Center found that “more than eight-in-ten U.S. adults (86%) said they got their news from a smartphone, computer or tablet.” So, what implications does this have for political campaigns? It suggests that if you want to inform people about your upcoming election, platform, or next campaign event, there is no better way of contacting them than through their phones.

The reality is this – in the past decade, there has been a significant paradigm shift in how to reach voters. With the growth of technology, political outreach, and advertising, methods have moved from traditional means like door-knocking to more digital methods like social media, IVRs (interactive voice response), and texting programs. The utilization of phone programs for political outreach and political advertising has seen a surge in popularity, and there are several reasons why this trend will only continue.

For starters, the ability to reach people through phone programs is simply unparalleled. According to Pew Research, 97% of Americans own some type of mobile phone, with 85% owning a smartphone. This means that the vast majority of people can be reached directly through their phones, making it an extremely effective means of political outreach. It’s also important to note that phones will be the clearly favored medium to engage with Gen Z as more and more of them become eligible to vote.

Furthermore, an effective phone program will never just target random people. In the past, grassroots campaigns would have volunteers walk door-to-door in hopes that their campaign’s message would be spread to the right crowd. Thanks to today’s sophisticated phone programs, campaigns now have a wide array of options available to them to target very specific audiences. Now, instead of just targeting a constituent’s neighborhood, campaigns can target people based on their background, demographic, voting history, preferred voting method, etc.

Additionally, phone programs offer the flexibility of being able to reach people at any time, making it easier to contact voters who may be busy during the day. While it may seem effective to connect with a voter in person, you simply can’t share your message if the person isn’t home or is too busy to answer the door. And if you feel that a text or a phone call may be viewed as annoying or intrusive, veterans of grassroots campaigns know all too well how frustrated people can get when someone is knocking on their door. No one likes being bothered at their home by a pesky stranger, but everyone has the ability to quickly check a short text or voicemail.

Lastly, phone outreach programs are great for collecting useful and often valuable data. Do you need people to sign up for an event? Text them a link to an event sign-up form. Do you want to know how people feel about current issues facing their community? Call them with a quick poll. All of these types of issues can be easily solved via a simple phone program. The utilization of phone programs for political outreach and political advertising is an essential aspect of modern political campaigns. The growth in popularity of phone programs is evidence of their effectiveness in reaching voters and their ability to target specific demographics and regions. As society becomes more reliant on technology, it is only natural that phone programs will become even more important in political outreach and advertising. Political campaigns must adapt to these changes in order to effectively engage with voters. When it comes to modern politics, the verdict is clear – if you want to win an election, you better start dialing.

If your campaign is in need of phone services or you need advice and support on which program best fits your campaign’s needs, then Ascent Strategic has you covered. We would love to help provide the tools you need to win your next election! Reply to this email to talk with our talented team today!

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