Winning Down-Ballot • Maryland State Education Association

Electing down-ballot Democrats with precise digital advertising

The Maryland State Education Association approached Mothership with a unique challenge — how to micro-target dozens of local races, down to local school boards, where victories weren’t certain but the outcomes were critical to passing a pro-public schools agenda. We developed with them an expansive targeting and creative operation to get the job done.

Voter data alone wouldn’t do the trick, as the audiences in some of these districts were too small to reach efficiently. So we devised a cutting-edge approach, combining voter data with precise geo-fencing and unique audience segments to widen our reach as much as possible. And we curated custom audiences of teachers, parents of school-age children and education enthusiasts to expand the network of voters we could engage with.

The creative program we built was comprehensive and compelling. We deployed nearly 350 unique ads and close to 50 interactive GOTV throughout the state with three primary goals in mind: 1) firmly cement name recognition for relatively unknown candidates 2) deliver critical voting information and 3) raise the profile of the education message across the state. Every creative was personalized to the specific candidate. The interactive content was especially unique as it was designed to feature a slate of candidates a voter would need to remember walking into the voting booth. For higher profile county executive races we developed customized video content to enhance message recall.

The results? We helped elect 27 down-ballot Democrats, all strong supporters of public schools, and increase the Democratic supermajority in Maryland. By Election Day, we had reached more than 400,000 voters an average of 22 times. Views of display content topped 11 million and the personalized videos were watched nearly 100,000 times. The strategic campaign we developed with the Maryland educators is a replicable model for conducting down-ballot voter communication.


  1. Elect pro-schools Democrats at all levels of Maryland politics  
  2. Micro-target voters in dozens of down-ballot districts and expand the electorate


  1. Went beyond the list to surround voters
  2. Used unique targeting segments, like parents of school-age children, to make a relevant connection
  3. Developed hundreds of unique creatives tied to each candidate


  1. Elected 27 down-ballot Democrats across the state
  2. Reached 400,000 voters more than 11 million times
  3. Developed the model for conducting a statewide down-ballot communication program