As we come into canvassing season, particularly in the US, now is a good time to think about canvassing and how important it is in the context of the democratic process as a whole.
The last few years have seen a huge growth in online and digital campaigning with mixed results from the point of view of the campaigners and the democratic system. Digital engagement is open to misinformation and does not provide the real interactions that face-to-face canvassing does. Despite the rise of social media real conversations with people at their homes or in public are still the most effective way of getting people to remember a candidate and come out to vote.
Canvassing strategy can be broken down as follows:
Get started early
If you need 10,000 votes to get elected then you will want to knock on 100,000 doors. This means that if you have a team of 20 people working with you, you will need to start canvassing about 6 months before election day to get it all done. Get started early.
Get your database of voters in order
Canvassing is easy if you have good-quality data on voters including accurate addresses and contact details so you can target effectively. If you don’t have data then talk to us and we can advise you or get it for you. Doing canvassing without data is possible using our Go app but it is not based on individual targeting, it is designed to get an idea of how an area or group thinks about your candidate.
Recruit and train your grassroots teams in canvassing techniques
Canvassing is highly effective for getting name recognition up and particularly for turning people out to vote. However, if your canvassers don’t know what they are doing it can be a negative experience all round. Train canvassers in etiquette on the doors, not getting involved in time wasting canvasses or getting pulled into arguments. Train them to understand that they are first and foremost, gathering data from the community. Has the voter heard of the candidate? Do they need to register to vote? Do they need help getting to the polls? Information like this will be extremely useful on election week. If you need help with canvasser training we can help you with it.
Make it easy for canvassers
Canvassers, whether they are volunteers or paid, should have a good experience on the canvass. That means good tech for recording canvasses and navigating the canvass. They should also get feedback from the campaign manager about how they have done and what they have contributed to the effort. Use canvassing tech like Ecanvasser to streamline engagement and make every canvasser effective.
Learn from the data
The data that is captured is there to teach you. What do voters think? How efficient are your canvassers? What should the campaign messaging be? Where are your stronghold areas in the district, where are you weak? If data is being captured correctly, these answers will be clear to you and will direct your campaign for you.
Have an election week strategy
Use the data you have captured to build segmented lists of voters who have pledged to vote for you. These are your target voters for emails, phone calls and help on election day. Make sure every one of these people comes out to vote for you. You might want to tick people off as they come to the polls. You should be targeting swing voters with specific messaging based on your canvassing. Is education or immigration a key issue that might swing them to you during election week? Hit them with email or social media advertising in the final days so you are top of mind.
Best of luck with your canvassing and if you need any help with your strategy you can learn more on our Campaign Blueprint.