In just over 30 days you’ll be watching election coverage and waiting to hear whether or not the Democrats have won the House of Representatives back.
How will you feel if we become the majority?
How will you feel if we fall a couple of seats short?
We only have 35 days to do everything we can to turn out voters who will vote for Democratic candidates up and down the ballot. What we do in these final days will determine which outcome we’ll be hearing about on November 6.
The challenge this week: Canvassing.
The #1 most effective Get Out the Vote tactic is canvassing. Nothing beats one human being talking to another face to face.
One of the biggest challenges we face is that Democrats don’t always vote. We can be very sporadic. Canvassing can turn a sporadic voter into one we can count on on Election Day.
While other forms of communicating with voters gets the campaign information out there–think of commercials, billboards, pamphlets, mailings–canvassing ENSURES that your message reaches the voter directly.
The primary purpose of canvassing right before election day is to knock on the doors of a candidate’s most likely voters and have them commit to voting.
At a basic level, you would be surprised how many people–registered voters at that!–aren’t aware of when the next election is, know what district they live in or who is running to be their representative, or even know much about what’s happening in politics today. Your conversation helps get them that critical information.
And these days, you also have so many new tools you can bring with you when canvassing! You can show videos, get people connected to social media, take donations, or register other roommates at that address by using a phone or tablet.
Jane Palmer: I love canvassing. It’s really fun. I’m curious about people, and every neighborhood and household is distinctive. You learn a lot about your community, and it’s great exercise. It is deeply satisfying. I am often thanked by the people I speak to. People who didn’t know the candidates and were glad to learn more about them. People are usually gracious and kind.
How to Canvass
Get signed up! Get connected with your local Democratic party and/or directly with the campaign you want to help. Either one will have the super-specific voter data for your neighborhood. You’ll need that so you are knocking on the right doors.
Know what you’re going to say. Again, whichever group you sign up with will prepare you to talk to voters. They will have campaign messages, talking points, etc. for you to become familiar with. They will also likely pair you up with an experienced canvasser for your first outing so you can learn the ropes. Important note: If you are new at canvassing and want to go with a partner, keep in mind that the closer to Election Day it is, the more the campaign office is going to be running at 100mph. Go earlier in the campaign season, and you’ll get more training.
Get ready. Beyond the stuff the campaign will give you–voter lists, campaign material, talking points, etc.–be sure to take some water, a snack, and the cellphone numbers of fellow block walkers and the campaign office.
Get talking! Remember, the power of canvassing are two people talking to each other. Yes, you have information you want to convey, but be sure to really listen to the voters. Be honest. That respect that you show them is part of why canvassing can be so effective. Also, the enthusiasm you show for the candidate can influence the voters you speak to.
Once again — canvassing is the best thing you can do to ensure that Democrats get elected. Get involved right away!
Jane Palmer: If you give it a try, you will rise to the occasion. You will discover that you CAN do it. You gain the skills and become stronger, more powerful, more courageous, and more of the kind of citizen activist our nation needs.
If the idea of canvassing scares you, take a baby step. Just go to a training. Your candidates (especially those running for federal office) will offer a training at their local campaign office. Just go to one and check it out.
BONUS for anyone wanting to canvass in Georgia, Iowa, Nevada, Tennessee and New Hampshire: Sign up and be a part of Let America Vote’s Door Knocking Competition!
Catch up on our previous Midterms 2018 challenges:
Week 10 – Choose the top 3 candidates you’ll focus on
Week 9 – Learn the key issues for your chosen candidates
Week 8 – Volunteer for a voter registration event
Week 7 – Become a more effective communicator
Week 6 – Register 1 new voter