Ballot Initiatives

We know how to win ballot initiatives.

Ballot initiatives and referendums are completely different than candidate campaigns and require a different strategy to win.


“The reversal of public attitudes was stunning”
– Mountain Town News

Public polling showed ballot issue 2A in Pueblo, Colorado started with 70% of voters in favor of the measure. After the final votes were cast voters completely rejected the measure with 76% against the measure. A complete rejection of the proposal.

We were able to frame the issue early and often around the risks and costs associated with the ballot proposal.


Doing more with less to win Prop 19 in California

We always knew California statewide Proposition 19 would be a close race.  The proposition was a complex, multi-faceted measure. To add to the campaign’s challenges, Prop 19 was funded $40-60 million LESS than similar ballot proposals that were competing for voters’ attention.

To win, we had to tell memorable stories while targeting them at the voters that needed to hear them most. In other words, we had to do a lot more with a lot less. Watch the ad above or view the full case study (and watch more ads) from Prop 19.


“Arkansas has become the first state in the Bible Belt to legalize medical marijuana.” – Associated Press

Framing an issue so voters understand how it affects their lives is imperative to winning campaigns. Explaining a complicated issue in clear and precise terms is an art. Defining one’s opponent, be it a candidate or ballot measure, is what we do.

Too often campaigns fail to frame the issue on their terms and they lose because of it.  It is critical to tell the voters what a ballot measure is all about – early in a campaign and consistently throughout.

Frame the debate, win the election.

Define the problem.  Define the solution.   Tell voters what is at stake.

If you do those things – with very straight forward information – you will set the stage for the reset of the campaign to be on YOUR terms.

Medical marijuana was on the ballot in Arkansas and the opposition was very clearly misrepresenting the facts. It was our job to explain how voting yes would help people who desperately need help.

In the case of Vote FOR 6 for medical marijuana in Arkansas, we needed to get across 4 important points:

  1. Doctors should be able to prescribe the best medicine to ease the pain of their patients.
  2. Medical marijuana should only be available under strict doctor supervision.
  3. Medical marijuana will only be available for people with debilitating diseases
  4. It’s already legal in 24 other states.

Every line of the spot above was poll tested. The strongest line is keeping politicians out of the doctor-patient relationship. This spot moved numbers and we won.


It was the first constitutional amendment to be defeated in Wisconsin in 26 years. 

“No” ballot campaigns are very different than “Yes” ballot campaigns.  They require different strategy and messaging to win. Successful “No” campaigns are able to present serious concerns about the long-term negative consequences of a particular vote. Often times, these consequences are unintended by the authors of the initiatives.

In Wisconsin in 2018, voters soundly rejected a bipartisan effort to eliminate the office of the State Treasurer 61% “No” to 39% “Yes.” We were able to help the “Save Our Fiscal Watchdog” campaign by first informing voters there would actually be a vote on their ballot. This simple, yet crucial, step is often overlooked in states where ballot measures and constitutional amendments are not a regular occurrence.

“Voter response was seismic”

– Todd Berry, writing for the Badger Institute

Once we established the fact there would be a vote, the campaign’s next duty was to ensure voters understood this was a change to the constitution – and not just a simple ballot question.  Our polling showed that voters moved the most when they learned the Office of State Treasurer could provide a critical check-and-balance to the State Legislature with regards to fiscal policy – that language was the main driver in our television and digital advertising.


Tell a Story

In the “Protect Arkansas Values: Stop Casinos Now” campaign, we utilized a powerful storytelling format.  Throughout the campaign we used people to voice their concerns about the ballot initiative a la Harry and Louise.

Polling showed our storytelling spots moved numbers.

The ad above, in particular, was watched to an 85% completion rate in the digital formats (gold standard for political campaigns is 60%).