How campaigns are utilizing text messages for votes, and why it's not likely to stop

Posted at 6:56 PM, Mar 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-10 20:38:31-04

(WXYZ) — You can screen your phone calls, delete emails without reading them, avoid answering the door when someone knocks, but campaigns have figured out one form of communication you are unlikely to ignore: text messages.

In many cases, your cell phone number is recorded in public voter files, so campaigns can send texts even if you've never signed up to hear from them.

It's also perfectly legal. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TPCA) limits the use of auto-dialed commercial calls or texts and prerecorded robocalls. But, the TCPA and the FCC's rules do not apply to political campaign-related calls or texts.

Republicans and Democrats are spending millions by deploying thousands of staffers and volunteers across the country to focus on sending texts to both committed and potential supporters.

An early adopter of the tactic is Sen. Bernie Sanders. His campaign has already sent nine times as many texts to voters as it did during the entire 2016 primary, and he's not alone. President Trump's campaign is doing the same, and so is nearly every Democratic candidate.

Experts say the reason why campaigns are utilizing texts is because they work.

In 2014 in Virginia, Eric Canton outspent David Brat 40-to-1 – $5 million to $200,000 – but Brat's campaign run by a 23-year-old defeated Cantor by solely relying on web ads and text messages.

And while you may not like it, campaigns know that above all else, you will read it.