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Getting To Grips With Deep Canvassing

Decoding the Deep Canvass

Door-to-door canvassing is often like 'hitting the panic button' in the lead up to polling day. Even though research has consistently proven that door-knocking is the best way to earn votes, we still do not give it a high enough priority when mapping out our campaign goals. Canvassing isn't a new trend either, as a matter of fact, it has been the only constant campaign technique in all elections over the last century.

Anybody who implements a canvassing campaign usually starts the same way, ie, they target and engage voters on the doorstep (it's tried and tested). Door knocking has been taken up a notch in recent years thanks to specific voter targeting methods and the campaigns that are the best at targeting are usually the ones in office at the end of an election. Looking at deep canvassing, we now realize that we need to take it up another level to become more than 'vote grabbers' to our citizens.

So how is deep canvassing any different?

With a deep canvass, you learn what matters (really matters) to the voter. There’s still a script, but it’s designed to help the canvasser engage with a voter. Deep canvassing is easily recognizable because that's the canvass which takes double the time. They won't be looking at their watch, thinking about the next house or hitting targets. The canvassers only concern will be the attempt to change people's minds on contentious issues, having meaningful conversations and getting the voter to share a bit of themselves with the canvasser.

The Conversation

It’s important that you don’t go to the door and preach like some canvassers can be guilty of. The goal is to share personal stories about times when the voter and the canvasser felt something, be that anger, happiness or frustration. It’s not necessarily about finding a vulnerability in your voter, but it's definitely about finding common ground.

Make sure to train your canvassers and give them examples of how to create a deep canvass. Switch questions to ones which require them to think -

“Did you ever feel your voice was put down or ignored?”

“Did you take action that time you felt discriminated against or did you just carry on?”

“Have you found that others have experienced what you did, what are your thoughts on this?”


Doubling down on what we said above about spending more time to engage with the person at the door, research is showing that it requires intense intervention to cause an effect. So if your motives are political, be able to see the issue from various different points of view, then gather the concern of the voter and show them you understand by taking notes, leaning in and using positive reinforcement through body language. A deep canvass is rooted in listening, learning, and exposing a voter to new perspectives.

If you or your campaign are experimenting with deep canvassing, we would love to hear about it here at Ecanvasser.

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