How We Helped: Jahana Hayes for Congress
“Teachers are nation builders. That’s our job…to effect change, to improve outcomes. Isn’t that the same job of Congress?” Midway through her campaign ad, Jahana Hayes (then-candidate for Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District and National Teacher of the Year in 2016), lays out what would become the through-line of her candidacy for national office. Who better to serve the people in Congress than an educator who had already been serving her community for years?
Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District includes the suburban and rural communities west of Hartford. Traditionally Republican, the 5th District has been trending Democratic since the 2004 election. Having never held office, and being an African American woman in an overwhelmingly white district, Jahana faced a tough primary against Former Simsbury First Selectman Mary Glassman, who was backed by the state Democratic Party in the primary.
When Jahana approached us to help her campaign, we knew the challenge would be to help her breakthrough as a first-time candidate; showcasing her extraordinary story, dynamic personality, and many qualifications to win the primary and general elections while raising money to fund her campaign. Making things even more interesting, Jahana came to us with an ace in the hole: an incredibly compelling video made by our friends at Hardpin Media outlining her background and motivation for running. If we could get the video in front of the right audience online, it may be enough of a spark to jump start her campaign.
The goals of our efforts were three-fold:
- To help Jahana’s launch video go “viral.” We could raise money by putting the video in front of likely donors with Facebook direct donate ads.
- To persuade and motivate Democratic voters to vote for Jahana in the primary, tapping into energy from the viral biography video and showing sporadic voting supporters how and when to vote.
- To persuade and motivate Democratic and moderate voters to vote for Jahana in the general election with issue-focused videos to show Jahana’s positions and depth on a variety of issues.
We helped Jahana’s incredible launch video become one of the most viral of 2018, being picked up by NowThis and achieving 121,000 shares and 11 million views on Facebook. From there, Jahana’s fundraising exploded. From the video launch on July 12 to the primary on August 6, we raised over $46,000 through Facebook donate ads and a total of $179,600 online, vaulting Jahana to a 3-to-1 money advantage over her Democratic Party-endorsed primary opponent.
To win the primary, we created a 30-second cut of the viral video highlighting President Obama’s remarks to reach 200,000 primary voters. With the opponent’s Party support it was important to show validation from one of the highest-ranking Democrats in the Party.
To assure victory in the general, we targeted a tighter universe of voters, displaying 1.5 million ad impressions an average of 27 times per person in the final two weeks. Hayes won the primary with 62% of the vote and the general election with 56% of the vote. She became the first African American woman to represent Connecticut in Congress.