December 19th, 2019

Will Voters Answer Your Calls During the 2020 Election?

As the 2020 presidential election cycle starts in earnest political campaigns and their partners—pollsters, phone banks, data collection companies, call centers, etc.—will have to connect with an electorate that has lost trust in phone calls. Answer rates underpin the success of these organizations. When voters answer, they can be polled, engaged, and inspired to participate. Unanswered calls waste resources, opportunity, and put election results at risk.

If we can agree that most adult U.S. consumers are also eligible voters, then campaigns and their partners can adopt lessons from other industries. 

A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Neustar (Why Consumers Won’t Take Your Outbound Calls, July 2019) found that the voice channel was the most important for meeting customer service goals, with 63% of study participants saying it is critical — almost double that of email. (319 respondents participated in Forrester’s study, and represented financial services, travel and hospitality, retail/eCommerce, collections, telecommunications, and energy and utilities organizations.)

Customer service goals roughly equate to voter engagement in the political world. If you’ll allow the analogy, then we can explore three new hurdles that have gotten in the way of conversations with voters.

Why don’t voters answer your political phone calls?

You’re calling on the wrong day or time

Some voters are more likely to answer their phones on Saturday mornings. Others are unreachable outside of weekday afternoons. A political campaign that applies a one-size-fits-all outbound dialing strategy will only get through to the segment of voters that happens to fit the parameter. That wastes resources, volunteers’ time and energy, and opportunities to connect with more voters.

Your calls are being blocked or mislabeled as spam

To deal with the rise in robocalls, many carriers are implementing free call-blocking services and developing applications to combat spam. These tools block legitimate calls, too. Inaccurate call blocking and spam tagging happen as call number reputation and calling behavior are analyzed by call management systems. In many cases, outbound dialers are not even aware that their calls are being blocked or tagged as spam.

Even if the carrier opts to deliver an outbound call to a voter, an identical hurdle lurks at the moment when the voter decides whether to answer.

They don’t know who is calling

As reported in the Washington Post, Americans saw a 47% increase in robocalls and spam calling in 2018 over 2017. In Forrester’s survey, sixty-four percent of respondents “say that customers are not picking up because they can’t identify who is calling (the “unknown caller” problem).” Close to half of those same respondents say that their firms do not have the right strategy for contacting customers. 

Increase contact efficiency or get out of the race

Forrester’s study illustrated a stratification of concerns among respondents for addressing the above challenges. After the potential for regulatory fines associated with compliance risk, the remaining considerations tie back to dialing efficiency.


In 2020, political campaigns and their partners can’t afford to squander resources, so let’s discuss the mitigating principles that apply.

Increase live answer rates

Voters use multiple phones. Contact information changes frequently. Some voters are more likely than others to answer. Political campaigns, pollsters, and phone banks need to know which phone numbers voters will answer to prioritize the most contactable voters for more strategic outbound dialing.

Reach out at the best day and time, and to the best number

Voter files do not indicate the days and times when individual voters are most likely to use their phones. That leaves a tremendous gap in outbound dialing strategy. Likewise, a voter’s record may list just one phone number, though she may answer others. If the record lists multiple numbers, then there must be a strategy to prioritize them. Insights in each of these areas—‘most likely to answer,’ ‘best time to call,’ and ‘name-to-phone verification’—are opportunities for greater dialing efficiency.

Mitigate risk of mistrust in calls from unrecognized numbers

To prevent call blocking and spam-mislabeling, organizations can register their outbound calling numbers as verified numbers across the calling ecosystem of carriers and app providers. Displaying an accurate and consistent Caller Name (Caller ID) and number for outbound calls ensures that calls are trusted and more likely to be answered.

What can political campaigns and their partners learn from the private sector regarding these challenges? In Forrester’s survey, 67% of respondents say that technology vendors are critical or important to solving these challenges. It’s better to partner.

How Neustar Can Help

Neustar helps clients optimize their outbound dialing strategies and contact more consumers while decreasing operational costs with new technologies and innovations in identity and phone behavior intelligence. Political campaigns and their partners can do the same.

Improve intelligence about voters and their phones

Neustar continuously corroborates consumer identity data against hundreds of authoritative data sources, and then pushes updates in consumer records directly to client databases, enabling enhanced and accurate voter records. In tandem, Neustar can prioritize the most contactable phone numbers by analyzing phone usage metrics and then scoring all numbers based on their likelihood of answering. 

Mitigate risk of mistrust in calls from unrecognized numbers

Neustar enables organizations to manage and assign Caller Names (Caller ID) to all owned phone numbers, ensuring consistency across devices and mobile apps while mitigating inaccurate call blocking and mislabeling. The Caller Names that voters see when they receive political calls are accurate and consistent.

As a proud American company, we’re enthusiastic about helping to increase voter engagement and facilitate a well-informed election. Hundreds of leading B2C brands and government agencies already use Neustar to improve their right-party contact rates by 33%. Shouldn’t your political organization also harness these unique solutions to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of its outreach?

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