Multiple field experiments prove that twelve successful face-to-face conversations translate into an additional vote. It is not surprising as to why canvassing has survived as the bedrock of electoral campaigns.

benefits-of-canvassing-scripts

A canvassing script or even a set of talking points can serve as good reference for your volunteers before they start knocking on doors.

Let this article take you through:

Canvassing script best practices

canvassing-script-best-practices

Get people talking

Start with a few leading questions to get to the core of what people in a locality or individual voters really care about.

Catherine Vaughan, CEO at Flippable, gives us an example:

“When I started my spiel, Jeff seemed to be waiting for me to finish talking so he could get on with his day. But when I mentioned education, Jeff lit up. His wife was a teacher, and he’d seen her pay out of pocket for school supplies that her schools wouldn’t cover.”

Offer convincing arguments
For the voters that are uninterested, or perhaps even against voting, it is worth your time to understand the reasons behind that disinterest and answer them directly.
Common reasons include:

  • They don’t think it makes a difference 
  • Complex voter registration process
  • They don’t like the candidate or campaign issues
  • They are too busy or have conflicting schedules

Engage in open-ended conversations
Avoid starting with a question that makes it too easy for people to say no. Encourage your supporters to engage in open-ended conversations when interacting with swing voters. Research by the Leadership Lab of the Los Angeles LGBT Center suggests that long, open-ended conversations have the potential to change people’s minds. 

A script can only take you so far
Don’t make your script the be-all and end-all of your canvassing campaign. Show your volunteers how to think beyond the script and make real personal connections with your voters. That includes taking notes, collecting details like email addresses and phone numbers, and following up with them later. Try CallHub to follow up with voters through voice and text messages.

With that being said, here are the primary types of scripts we’ll be looking at:

Types of canvassing scripts

Depending on the objectives of your canvassing efforts, you should consider modifying your scripts. Here are four of the most common objectives of a door-to-door canvass:

goals-of-sample-canvassing-scripts
  • Voter Identification Scripts
    The goal of a voter ID script is to identify the level of support for your candidate, issues the voter cares about, and potential volunteers or yard sign hosts.
  • Volunteer Recruitment Scripts
    You want volunteer recruitment scripts to identify and convince potential volunteers to join your campaign.
  • Voter Persuasion Scripts
    A good persuasion script should be able to engage an undecided voter in a meaningful discussion and help them consider voting for your candidate.
  • GOTV Scripts
    The only goal of a GOTV script is to get supporters to the polls. 

Here’s how you can craft a script for your campaign along with sample canvassing scripts:

Voter identification script

A voter ID script is used to identify a voter, where they stand, how they might vote and what issues concern them. It’s a brief script with the goal of getting to as many voters as possible.

The important thing to do here is to connect with the voter.

  • First, identify that you’ve got the right person
    Start with something like: “Hello, may I speak with <name of the voter>?”
    The sooner you have them talking, the better the chances are of having a conversation. The conversation here is guided.
  • Next, introduce yourself.
    For example, “I am a volunteer/student intern with the <name of campaign>
    You want them to know that you’re not a paid professional but rather a volunteer who is passionate about the candidate or cause.
  • Next, ask leading questions.
    Try and get to the core of what the voter cares about, to evaluate whether they might support your candidate.
    For example, “Do you think that we should cut state income tax?”
    These open-ended questions can initiate a conversation without appearing to be biased and can make the voter see the other side of the argument, thereby giving an honest viewpoint. This helps you see how the individual voter sees certain issues, which can be recorded to be used later in the campaign.
    You want to get an honest viewpoint for questions dealing with issues like health care, education, gerrymandering or the environment. For example “What do you think about the lack of funds given to public schools?” or “Do you think gerrymandering is ethical?”
  • Avoid giving voters the “I don’t know” option. This will make more voters go with the undecided option than stating their opinion.
    Keep in mind to ask questions in a casual way which would keep them interested. An uninterested voter will not give you the right information as they’d simply want to get done with the conversation.
Sample Voter ID Script

Volunteer recruitment script

This script is directed toward voters who are identified as staunch supporters of your candidate.

The script should be interactive and it should engage the potential volunteer in a conversation about what is important to them, the various problems to be resolved and the need for them to act.

  • The prime reason why people don’t volunteer is that they are never asked to! Instead of directly asking for help, you could start off by thanking the voters for their support.
    For example “We wouldn’t be where we are today without your support.”
  • The key is to tap into the matter that concerns the voter. Bring in a local issue or a problem that needs to be solved; the volunteer can then persuade the voter to act upon it.
    For example <name of your candidate> is willing to bring in certain changes about the safety of your neighbourhood. Are you willing to do the necessary?”
  • Conclude with:
    “Can <name of your candidate> count on you for your help?”
Sample Volunteer Recruitment Script

Voter persuasion scripts

A persuasion script is used to sway undecided voters to vote for your candidate. It is usually longer than others and engages the voter in a conversation about relevant issues in their constituency.

Reconnect with a voter who was previously identified as undecided and whose prime concern was an issue close to your candidate. The goal is to persuade the voter to vote for your candidate by using this information.

Use the data collected during the voter identification stage to tailor a message to undecided or opposition voters. For some healthcare would be the key concern, tap into this to get support.

  • First, start off by explaining the campaign to the voter by highlighting their key concern.
    For example <Name of your candidate> has worked hard to bring in better health care services in this neighborhood. They have talked and listened to the problems of the neighborhood and plans on bringing in a change.”
  • Some voters are not issue-oriented. That is because they don’t follow politics closely. They tend to vote based on who they like or based on commonalities they have with the candidate. In such cases, you can highlight your candidate based on family background, community service, military service, gender, or leadership experience.
  • Don’t expect swing voters to have a sudden epiphany and be swayed by your conversation. If they are swayed, get them to subscribe to election alerts, get their emails and phone numbers for follow up campaigns.
  • In conclusion, stay connected with the undecided voter and always come back to the reason you’re there in the first place, your candidate.
    For, example: <Name of the voter> can <name of the candidate> count on you for your vote?”
Sample Voter Persuasion Script

Get out the vote (GOTV) script

The GOTV script is used to ensure your core supporters don’t forget about Election Day and help people get to the polls if needed. The script aims to increase voter turnout and motivate the occasional but supportive voter to show up at the polls. The volunteer must keep it local and positive.

  • One thing to keep in mind is that it’s not about you rather it’s about them, the voter. Subtle changes in language can make a big difference in the impact of your script. Consequently, avoid using lines like “I need you to vote”, say:“We need you to vote.”
  • If voters intend on voting, give them information about the polling station and the ideal time to cast the vote.
  • Avoid persuasion during GOTV. Your goal is to reach the maximum number voters so don’t get drawn into conversations or arguments. It is not a persuasion campaign and for that reason move on to the next voter if the former is not interested.
  • Remember to prioritize contacting voters who live alone as they are less likely to have a plan as compared to the ones living with their families.
  • Always close by thanking the voters for their time. For example: “Thank you for your time. Have a great evening.”
Sample GOTV Script

A canvassing script allows for volunteers to practice and rehearse before knocking on doors. That’s why having a script is a great way to structure your campaign and make the most out of every conversation had with voters.

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