Campaign canvassing, it's a battle of inches. Winning votes one doorstep at a time can seem an impossible task and yet, with a good team and strong organization, it can be the difference between winning and losing.
Recently we spoke to John Kavanagh, a man with over 20 years experience canvassing in local elections. We thought he had a great insight into canvassing so we asked him a few questions.
1. Why do you do it?
John: I have always done it. Every couple of years when there is an election approaching, I never think twice about it. I have been at it for over 20 years and initially, I did it with my father and I had no interest or understanding of politics. It was a gradual thing, I slowly got interested in why I was knocking on doors for our local candidates.
It gives you a sense of pride, for the most part, you are attaching yourself to a figure or issue you believe in. We could all sit behind a computer or a telephone, but you achieve much more getting out and interacting with people.
2. What do you gain from it?
John: Firstly, canvassing is a very local thing. If you do it enough you start to form relationships with these people. You can then identify voters' positions very easily because you can read the signs.
No campaign wins alone and victory relies on cooperation and commitment on the part of many people.
The campaign becomes a vehicle for achieving personal goals as well. I have become more confident because of it. It isn’t easy knocking on a door, giving a speech and trying to convince some person to pick your guy or girl over the next.
3. What are your safety tips when out on a canvass?
Volunteers should work in pairs rather than alone.
Coordinators should have the names of every volunteer on the canvass and know where they have been assigned to walk.
Assign a return time by which volunteers must report back to the canvass staging site, and hold them to it.
Canvassers should never enter the home of any person on the canvass route.
Canvassers should have a phone number to call in case they get lost or an emergency arises. Make sure the phone is staffed.
Finally, be aware of dogs. Not always an obvious one!
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Canvassing is kind of our bread and butter as you can see so check out some of our other posts.