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Learn the Most Effective Canvassing Strategies

Published: Mar 8, 2022

Your candidate might have all the traits of an ideal candidate and the potential to win the election. However, without the right canvassing strategy, your chances of winning are slim. 

You need to leverage your candidate’s popularity at every stage of your political campaign. Even if your candidate is new to the field, an effective canvassing strategy can save you from losing the election.

This is where this post comes in.

Most effective and commonly used canvassing strategies

This article describes a set of canvassing strategies that are most effective and commonly used among political campaigns.

Set a SMART objective

Setting up SMART objectives for your campaign gives your volunteers a clear direction forward. Let’s see an example.

Specific: I’m sure your goals are in line with raising more funds, getting more votes, etc. However, as per defining a SMART objective, keep your objective specific. For example, an increase in donations from past donors.

Measurable: Your objective should be measurable. For example, while ‘spreading awareness’ is difficult to measure, ‘a 10% increase in mentions’ is measurable.

Attainable: You can ask your volunteers to get every supporter to donate to your campaign. However, this is an impossible task. The right way to set an attainable objective is to look at the past data and aim for an incremental improvement.

Relevant: The objective you set must align with your campaign’s goal. Consider what your campaign is most focused on: Is it earning more donations? More supporters? More votes? and so on.

Timely: Although your campaign has a deadline, you should set one for your objectives too. This helps you track your progress and make necessary adjustments to your canvassing strategy.

Related reading: 13 proven door to door canvassing tips for political campaigns

Let the field organizers train volunteers

Let your field organizers train volunteers for canvassing voters. This will result in your volunteers receiving customized training suitable for the areas they are canvassing in. 

Create onboarding materials that your volunteers can access anytime and use to interact with your supporters.

For example, your organizers can create a plan, and onboarding materials depending on the type of canvassing, say, voter identification, voter persuasion, voter mobilization, etc. This plan needs to be highly action-based and require minimal training.

Even after that, continue to provide support to your volunteers. Even the most trained volunteers may have queries related to your campaign. Ensure you have experts your volunteers can reach out to to get the answers they need. 

Note: Providing extensive training to your volunteers prepares them for further campaigns your organization will host in the future. When they are familiar with your process and are confident that they possess the required skills, they are more likely to join your campaign again. This will help you save time, effort, and money.

Use a canvassing software to generate walk sheets

Canvassing software like Ecanvasser help you quickly cut turfs and convert each turf to a list of people. You can use these walk lists to print walk sheets that are distributed among your volunteers. 

This also helps your volunteers stay organized and makes the canvassing process simpler.

Pro tip: Have your volunteers canvass in their own communities or the ones they are a familiar face in. Your voters are more likely to open the door and start a conversation when they know the person knocking it. 

Share a list of talk points or scripts with volunteers

Share the required scripts highlighting the points you want your volunteers to mention while canvassing. Depending on the type of campaign, these talking points may be focused on your candidate’s achievements, the bills your candidate is supporting, election dates and location, and so on.

Make sure you cover all the possible recurring questions and answers to them. A mock session at the end of your volunteers’ training sessions can help you better prepare them for the campaign. Also, provide multilingual scripts wherever necessary. 

Here is a guide that covers the canvassing script best practices.

Best practice: Of course, you wouldn’t want your volunteers to carry around a giant book filled with scripts. Consider using a canvassing software to make them more accessible.  

Record interactions with voters

Ask your volunteers to record the data after each interaction during the campaign. The data should mainly focus on 

  • If a voter is likely to vote
  • How likely the voter is to vote for your candidate
  • Whether the voter is a strong supporter of your candidate, etc.

This information is crucial to the next stage of your campaign and should go into your voter database. The right canvassing software will help your volunteers enter the data which gets synced with your CRM. 

This data helps you analyze voter interactions and craft your follow-up canvassing strategy accordingly.

Important reminder: If the voter is not home, leave a copy of the campaign literature at their door but never in the mailbox, as it is a federal crime.

You May Also LIke: Deep Canvassing: Expert Tells How to Determine Success

Monitor the data and adjust your plan accordingly

This is where all the data your volunteers collect will help. Analyze these for trends and patterns so you can make the necessary adjustments.

For example, during your analysis, you might find out that some of your volunteers are getting more voter confirmations than others. With this knowledge, you can assign these volunteers to areas that are high priority or have people that are not yet your supporters.

Best practice: Clean your database regularly and delete or edit invalid data so the data is usable for a long time. For example, say one of your contacts has a number that’s no longer reachable, and you have that contact’s email address. You can now reach out and ask for the right contact details and update your contact list.

Follow up with prospective supporters

After your canvassing campaign, segment your voter database into multiple lists based on their supporter levels. Send follow-up texts or surveys as appropriate in the following days leading up to the election day preceding your election canvassing. Keep segmenting your lists to arrive at a list of voters you need to reach out to with your GOTV campaign.

Get started

Deep canvassing is another canvassing strategy that focuses on persuading voters by engaging them in meaningful conversations. Here’s a comprehensive guide on everything you need to know about deep canvassing in politics.

Featured image: Photo by Alex Padurariu on Unsplash


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