Periodic Evaluation: Qualitative

Organizers should limit qualitative evaluations to coincide with the first two quantitative evaluations. By get-out-the-vote weekend, you’ll need to focus all your energies on the numbers.

The integrated voter engagement model is not just about election work but about community-development, voter education and base-building. Periodic qualitative evaluations allow organizers the opportunity to assess progress in reaching the broader goals not only of the electoral work but the organization itself. As such, the particular measures that you’ll look at in these evaluations will be unique to your project. We provide suggestions below, but first, there is one qualitative question that organizers of any project must consider:

 Is the election environment developing as we expected when we planned the project? (And if not: Is there sufficient reason to adjust our plan?)

For example: you know that the initiative you’re working on will do well with African-Americans – but your opponents know that, too. So they’ve flooded the African-American district where you’re working with signs. You didn’t think you’d need signs in this neighborhood. In a case like this, organizers may have to scale back the number of phone-banks they’ve planned and put some volunteers out walking the neighborhood and asking to put up signs. This may require a final fundraising push to print up those extra signs, which may, in turn, mean you need to borrow a few phone lines and the time of several particularly persuasive staff members. If a seemingly simple task becomes a reason to shake up (and potentially jeopardize) an otherwise reasonably successful project, it's probably best to stay the course.

When you reach panic mode, as most everyone involved in elections does at some point, keep this in mind: Electoral work, even non-partisan projects, is a series of minor crises. The group that can get through them without becoming overly anxious and bogged down by drastic and unnecessary changes is usually the group that achieves its goals.

Other measures of qualitative progress

All of these will not be applicable to every project. If you're focused on winning in an initiative election, you probably won't be overly concerned with encouraging new community leaders in the middle of the campaign. Decide ahead of time which qualitative measures will help your leaders to assess the progress of the project. Here are some of the questions organizers might ask: