Ep. 9: Walking & Talking to Neighbors
Yup, it works. Person-to-person contact, talking with and listening to voters is the most effective way to increase support, votes, and turnout for our Democratic candidates.
Person-to-person contact – as in in-person-to-in-person contact is THE MOST EFFECTIVE TOOL in any election campaign.
The candidates go door-to-door as much as they can for this very reason. Since there are only so many hours in a day and there are way more doors than time allows, wonderful volunteers like you and me are the next in line.
Let me tell you how this works to take the mystery out of it.
The reason we go door-to-door is, as I’ve already mentioned, it is the most highly effective way to have meaningful conversations. It simply works.
Before I get started on the specific how-tos of this endeavor, I want to talk with you about being culturally competent.
In one campaign that I managed, we divvied up the walk sheets based on ethnicity. For example, we had an entire contingency of volunteers who spoke Vietnamese who went to the homes in which Vietnamese was likely to be the language spoken.
We did the exact same thing with the Indo-American community – U.S. citizens whose ancestry is from India. This is called being culturally competent which was highly effective and definitely ensured our margin of victory in that race.
Being culturally competent is important in life and in campaigns. Now, on to the specifics of neighborhood canvassing.
Just like phone banking, the campaign will train you, provide a list of specific voters with whom you’ll be talking and their addresses, a script to use at the door, and a clipboard, a pen, and paperwork to fill out to document the results of what happened at the door.
The paperwork is called a walk sheet. Often it is split between odd and even numbered homes. That way the volunteer stays on one side of the street for efficiency in the volunteer’s time. That would be your time as the volunteer.
Generally, the campaign will train you to speak ONLY with the voters on your list. There is absolutely no use wasting your and the campaign’s precious time on anyone else.
Remember, TIME is the one asset in a campaign that continually decreases and can never be increased. The deadline is the election day, the final day of the election. And that is it!
So, please just follow the instructions that the campaign provides.
The campaign sets a date and a time for these neighborhood conversations. You’ll go to the campaign meet up – could be the office or a parking lot near the neighborhood or a business. Maybe it could be a supportive coffee shop. The last time I went that was the deal. We met at a supportive donut shop.
There, you’ll meet volunteers like yourself who want to help to create the BIG BLUE WAVE this November. Often the campaign will have snacks to keep up your strength and something to drink – maybe water – because you need to keep hydrated.
Someone from the campaign will conduct the training. The trainer will tell you the purpose of the door knocking that day. It could be one of several reasons.
• Gather information by listening to voters about election issues.
• Persuade undecided voters to support the Democratic candidate.
• Identify voters who support the Democratic candidate.
And of course, it could be to get out the vote – known by the letters GOTV, which fails to refer to a local television station. 🙂
What to wear? Comfortable shoes! You’ll be walking – a LOT. Be sure to wear shoes that will be comfy.
Also, wear a campaign t-shirt. That way as you and your partner walking down the street, well, that’s just more promotion for your candidate. Also when the voter comes to the door, it will be obvious who you are and why you are standing there on the other side of the door. Wear a campaign t-shirt.
Now if you don’t already have one, I’m sure the campaign trainer will have a few on hand to hand out.
The walk sheets are organized in a way that makes it easy and efficient. In Episode 3 – Cell Phone Activism in which I talked about how to do phone banking, I said that volunteers call specific people rather than any random phone number. The same is true for neighborhood canvassing. You’ll be going to specific homes on the list because those are the ones that the campaign has identified. You’ll skip the other houses.
You’ll pair up with another volunteer. Always go in pairs. Whether the two of you walk together to the doors or you take one side of the street and your partner takes the other, that’s up to you guys.
The trainer will tell you what script to use and tell you what time to return to the meeting place.
Alright, let’s head out!
Sometimes volunteers will pile into a vehicle and get dropped off at the various starting places. Other times, you and your partner will drive yourselves to the starting place. Park somewhere nearby. Remember where you are parking, and so you begin.
You go to the first door and knock or ring the bell. Stand back a few feet to be courteous. No one answers the door. You’ll note that on your walk sheet.
The next door on your list, the voter answers the door. A polite conversation happens. You thank the voter, walk away, and note the conversation on your paperwork.
Your third name, someone answers the door, but neither of the voters you want to talk with are home. OK. Tell whoever answered the door to have a good day and walk toward your next house. Be sure to note the info on your walk sheet so that someone from the campaign can return to that home.
If by some chance you go to a home with someone less than pleasant at the door, well, first of all, who knows what is going on in the person’s life. Maybe the person just got some really bad news and you’ve just shown up at an inopportune time or maybe the person is a genuine horse’s patoot. The campaign trainer will have already provided you with instructions on how to handle the situation.
Blow it off. Put the information on your paperwork and just walk to the home on the list.
You and your partner will continue doing this until the time arrives to return to the meeting place. That’s where you will turn in your paperwork, talk about what you learned at the doors, and trade stories with other volunteers. Pat yourself on the back. You’ve done a great job helping to elect or re-elect another Democrat. I THANK YOU!
Did you have a good time? Great. Please do it again. And besides, you’ve made a few new friends. Trade phone numbers with the other volunteers. Expand your circle of friends. Maybe make plans to get together.
And there you go. I hope that takes the mystery out of this incredibly important campaign tactic. Remember that person-to-person contact is THE MOST EFFECTIVE way to have a tremendously positive impact on the election.
Be sure to take picture of you and your friends doing these things because it would be great to post on your social media. It encourages others to do the same.
I’m telling you these are all different kinds of techniques to create the BIG BLUE WAVE we want, we need, we deserve in this nation.
Thank you for reading!
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This is Ana Maria. YOUR Sassy Political Coach. Now go out and make Hell Hath No Fury our political rallying cry that helps create OUR BIG BLUE WAVE!
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