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Best Practice: Engagement At The Door

Your campaign should engage your voters in many different ways. But, in order to win and secure votes, you will need to contact voters multiple times, across different media.

The doorstep is possibly the most important of all of these. Through posters, leaflets, television, and print media, voters have an opportunity to be introduced to you and hear your policy positions. However,the doorstep is the only opportunity that they have en masse to engage and challenge you and your canvass team, allowing the opportunity to win those swing votes, and assuage any doubts.

A second key aspect that sets canvasses apart from other forms of engagement is the opportunity it allows you and your team to gather data that could be the crucial difference on polling day.

Prior to the campaign, you should ensure that you do canvassing training with everyone who intends to be out on the doors. Some role-playing and constructive advice from all present can help everyone make certain they’re playing their best game once the campaign begins.

Below we will run through an outline of the ideal doorstop interaction. Be sure to remember, though, to be confident in your own opinion of cultural differences - there is no one size fits all, and you should adapt the below to suit your campaigns particular needs!

Conversation:

A canvass is a conversation between two people. There are of course some differences, but there are many more similarities!

  • Introduce yourself, and tell them why you’re there (your candidate and party)
  • Discuss the key policy points as prescribed by your Lead Canvasser
  • Ask the voter if they have any concerns or policies, they would like to discuss
  • Remember: You’ve knocked on their door and asked for some of their valuable time, don’t make voters feel that you’re rushing off. If needs be, bring the conversation to a close at a natural break in the conversation.
  • Never be argumentative or antagonistic. A respectful discussion will win over far more voters; and in jurisdictions with preferential voting, may significantly help boost your transfers.
  • Thank them for their time, and advise them how they can get in touch with the campaign

Data Gathering:

The campaign's strategy team will have outlined to you how they wish for you to approach a canvass. This may involve asking particular questions or probing for feeling on a specific policy. While each campaign will have its own strategy and needs, you’ll likely be looking to gather most, if not all, of the following:

  • Supporter Level
    • Who does the voter support, and how committed they are to them
  • Their specific feelings on your candidate
  • If a supporter might be interested in getting involved in the campaign
  • What particular policy areas is a voter passionate about
  • Are there any potential issues that might prevent a supporter casting their ballot
    • Perhaps they might need assistance with transport to their polling station, or with attaining a postal/proxy ballot
  • If a supporter is wavering, what can we do to make them more solidly support us
    • It might be further information on a particular policy; showing them public statements to reassure that our candidate is genuinely committed to a policy; or maybe a phone call, or visit, from the candidate themselves

It will often not be possible to do all of the above, but a candidate isn’t elected from one interaction. By working your way through interactions like these, you will be able to segment your voter database, identify supporters and key trends; as well as ensure that your canvassers can have meaningful engagements with voters, on topics that they care about.

If you would like to know more about getting the most out of your canvass, why not sign up below.

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