WIN Number Calculator

  • Calculators
  • Field & Organizing
  • Public & Political Leadership

Everything you do during the campaign, from knocking on a door, to sending out a tweet, should be in service of reaching your win number on Election Day. Time, people, and money are every campaign’s most important resources. In order to make sure those resources are used in the most efficient and effective way possible, we use targeting. Targeting starts with knowing how many votes you’ll need to win. So let’s get to work!

What’s your WIN Number?

  • Let’s assume there are only two candidates in the race.

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  • What was the percentage of voter turnout from the last three similar elections in your district?

    In many cases your state or county party will be able to help you find expected turnout. If not, here’s a way to do it yourself.

    Look at public records through the Secretary of State or Board of Elections and find past similar elections. Similar is important. As an example, if you’re running for state senate in a non-presidential year, you should look at state senate races in non-presidential years because you’re not going to have the same turnout you would in a presidential year. Do your best to compare apples to apples.

    We’re looking for the turnout of registered voters here, not the turnout of the entire voting-age population. Both numbers are frequently reported, so make sure to pay attention to what data you’re collecting before entering it into the calculator.
  • How many people are registered to vote
    in the election?

    Use the most up-to-date data from your Secretary of State or Board of Elections and from NCEC (National Committee for an Effective Congress). You are looking for currently registered voters, not the total voting-age population. Make sure to look for that distinction when finding data because both numbers are routinely reported.
  • Your campaign needs votes for your candidate or issue to win

    Your win number is determined by:

    1. Figuring out likely voter turnout based on past similar elections.
    2. Applying that percentage to the number of registered voters in your district.
    3. Adding a cushion. In most cases (as we did with this calculator), we recommend shooting for at least a 52%-48% margin of victory to accommodate slight variations in turnout.