How to create SMS political polls

Topic: Political Polls, Uses of SMS

Maximise campaign outcomes with smart SMS political polls delivered directly to voters’ mobile phones.

In 2022, Americans received 15 billion political SMS messages, representing a 158% increase from 2021. Given that young voters are more likely to respond to SMS than calls, and as these voters age, SMS will continue to be used for everything from voting reminders and calls for volunteers to donation requests. SMS surveys and polls are also invaluable for outreach as political parties test policies and take temperature checks on voter opinions and beliefs.  

Whether you choose an API or platform, you’ll want to maximize your survey outcomes. The following checklist can help you to get started…

Optimizing your polls

  1. Enable two-way texts – This allows users to respond to your polls and provide real-time feedback.
  2. Enable auto response – This step is optional, but it supports great user experience and involves adding responses based on how users interact, which might mean they receive another poll question or a ‘thank you’ for their time and participation.
  3. Create a template – You can create a political poll template (or multiple templates) for your campaign that can be as simple or as complex as needed, depending on your target audience and the information you are trying to collect.
  4. Choose your poll type – As you design your template, keep your poll type in mind. Poll types can include multiple-choice and free responses for example (we cover these in more detail later in this blog).
  5. Schedule your poll – Once you’ve designed your template and builtin the features you need, you can set a date and time for your poll to be sent to users. Remember to pick a time that increases the likelihood of immediate engagement and one which adheres to all SMS sender rules and quiet periods.
  6. Reporting/ data collection – Analyzing data and campaign reports in real-time allows you to adjust your strategy and quickly identify areas for improvement if needed.

If you’ve ever sent out a communication or marketing campaign, this process will sound familiar to you. The basic steps are the same: create a campaign template, select users, schedule a time and date to send, gather data – and rinse and repeat. But choosing what type of poll to use is also important and depends on the information you are trying to secure.

Types of SMS political polls

There are several types of polls and they’re all designed to make it as easy as possible for users to reply. Here’s a quick rundown of your different options for the next time your company wants to utilize SMS surveys and polls.

Multiple choice

Multiple-choice polls ask users to respond using letters such as A, B, C, D, E, where each letter corresponds to a specific answer. You can use as many letters as needed but there should be a distinct difference between each letter’s corresponding answer. For example: “Which topic in the upcoming debate are you most interested in? A = environment, B = healthcare, C = taxes, D = federal spending.”


Polls involving numbers ask users to respond using preset numbers, such as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, where each number corresponds to a specific answer. Numbers are also useful when pollsters want to gauge levels of satisfaction or other emotions. Take this example: “On a scale of 1 (not at all) to 5 (very), how interested are you in the upcoming primary election?”

Either/or (dichotomy) choice

These polls only offer users two options, such as ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or ‘true’ or ‘false’ where users may only choose one option. A caveat option such as ‘maybe’ or ‘unsure’ can also be included as in the following case: “Are you planning to use a mail-in or absentee ballot for the election? Respond ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ or ‘unsure.’”

Free response

Unlike other poll types, free response allows users to respond however they please, responses may be restricted by a character limit, but that’s all. This style works well for gathering qualitative data and can provide valuable feedback. A potential drawback to be aware of, is that users may disengage because the poll takes more time than tick-box style surveys. A typical question might be: “In your opinion, what steps can be taken to increase voter turnout and engagement among younger voters?”

A targeted, cost-effective, and accessible choice

Most people keep their mobile phones with them and can quickly respond to SMS. Unlike traditional polling methods, such as by phone or door-to-door, SMS surveys do not require respondents to be in a particular place, and they can be sent in bulk, at a fraction of the cost of traditional polling methods.

Polls can be scheduled for a time that is most convenient for respondents. This convenience and accessibility results in a higher response rate, better engagement, and more accurate data. SMS surveys also allow for anonymity, so participants can answer questions openly (making results more reliable) when they might hesitate to share their opinion with strangers.

From a campaign perspective, SMS surveys deliver real-time results, so quick decisions can be made based on feedback received. SMS surveys also allow for targeted sampling, which can help campaigns reach specific groups and tailor their message for a more effective campaign strategy.

Author Avatar
Mary Henry

Mary has extensive experience in communication, PR and journalism - most recently across SaaS businesses. A keen researcher and storyteller, Mary is highly skilled in making complex concepts accessible, and in putting customers at the heart of her communication. She has supported all kinds of businesses to tell their brand, product and people stories - from global multinationals to start-ups across retail, travel/leisure, banking/finance, government and educational institutions.