Everything is Bigger in Texas, Including Efforts to Pass Proposition 1
From the very beginning, the campaign for Texas Proposition 1 was a matter of education, not persuasion.
At the end of the 2015 legislative session, the Texas Association of REALTORS® (TAR) knew that in Proposition 1, it had a prime opportunity to amend the state constitution to increase the homestead exemption and ban real estate transfer taxes on all real estate sales. It knew that the concept had key friends in the legislature, as well as popular support. It knew that it made economic sense for Texas, its property owners and aspiring property owners. But getting Texas Proposition 1 passed wasn't going to be that simple: a highly controversial local Proposition 1 in Houston, the nation's fourth-largest city, and confusing ballot language, muddied the waters and threatened the success of the proposed amendment.
Brandon Alderete, TAR's Director of Political Affairs, describes the statewide campaign that his organization conducted in partnership with the National Association of REALTORS®, using a major Issues Mobilization Grant from the REALTOR® Party that TAR matched with funds of its own. “First of all, we were very lucky that NAR's Issues Mobilization Committee was willing to approve the grant at Midyear—before a resolution was even on the ballot; that head-start made all the difference. We had our A-team working on it, and NAR's A-team,” he continues, “plus the power of our 100,000 REALTOR® members, which is impossible to overstate!”
Targeting likely voters, Texas REALTORS®, and current and aspiring homeowners, the campaign used poll-tested messaging to create television, radio and online advertising, as well as 15 direct mail pieces, ultimately reaching 812,000 voters in 627,000 households. REALTOR® leaders and association staff also gave countless presentations and sat for radio and television interviews.
The campaign website, TexansForProp1.com, was a master platform of information for the voting public. It also featured a dedicated page for REALTOR® members, providing numerous elements to help them engage as grassroots advocates, including a Power Point crash-course on the issues; client-based talking points; a template of a letter to send to clients; flier; email signature blocks; letters-to-the-editor templates; voting-reminder downloads for calendar apps; and branded print ads for local newspapers paid for by TAR's Issues Mobilization Political Action Committee.
Last but not least, it offered members banner pictures and pre-formatted content for Facebook and Twitter. “We hit it hard with social media; you know how friendly REALTORS® are!” says Alderete, who believes that REALTORS® are natural political advocates, especially where issues campaigns are concerned. “They're informed, they're social, they sell, they have wide circles,” he says. “We challenged them to vote, and to encourage all their clients and past clients to vote. After all, homeowners are the ones who stand to benefit the most from this legislation. Our members know the value of maintaining contact with clients, and this tax benefit would be the ultimate ‘service after the sale.’”
The campaign was able to break through the messy election-season noise with its targeted messaging, and on November 3, 2015, Proposition 1 passed with a whopping 86.38% of the vote. “It was really impressive,” admits Alderete, expressing his appreciation for the REALTOR® Party and its Issues Mobilization Committee. “Their support made this possible. And the pros who make up their Campaign Services team are rock stars,” he notes.
To learn more about how Texas REALTORS® worked to keep a real estate transfer tax out of Texas, contact the Texas Association of REALTORS®' Director of Political Affairs, Brandon C. Alderete, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-370-2124.
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