As with direct mail used for marketing purposes, political mail can Fail for List, Creative, and Timing. An example of a Creative Fail is when the wrong message is conveyed to a constituency, as with Al Edwards in Texas earlier this year.
On election day, I received this self-mailer supporting a proposition on the Houston, Texas ballot:
The message is clear, friendly, and persuasive. So why the Fail? For List. It was mailed to me in Arlington, VA, presumably because I used to live in and was registered to vote in Houston. However, my voter registration moved to Virginia more than six months ago. Given that they were mailing close to the election date, the people behind the mailing should have dropped anyone that might have voted via absentee ballot as well as those who cannot legally vote in Houston.
Here is an easy Fail for Timing:
This oversized postcard from the Chris Zimmerman campaign arrived on November 3, the day after the election. The use of black copy over dark backgrounds such as in the "Supporting our environment" box makes some text unreadable. This is sadly typical of quickly produced political direct mail, not exceptionally bad enough to call it an outright Fail.
- Send your political mail only to people who can vote for your election when they still have the opportunity to choose how to vote.
- Use adequate color contrast to ensure people can read your message.