Broad Conversations recently hosted two Feminist Canvassing Workshop days to offer a place for women and gender non-conforming folks to gather and exorcise some nerves about canvassing. We discussed what it means to be a feminist while canvassing and did some knowledge sharing and brainstorming.
Our conversation started at the end: what are the true goals of canvassing: why do we do it? It's not about convincing people to vote, really. It's much more about data collection so that the candidate's get out the vote (GOTV) effort on election day can be as targeted and as effective as possible. We then talked about tactics at the door and what to keep in mind while canvassing. Then, we concluded by listing what to do before you canvass: how to prepare, what to bring and wear, and what approaches may help alleviate anxiety.
Those who attended contributed such thoughtful input that we had to share! Here is a roundup of what we covered:
What are our goals:
- to get votes
- database information: voting, donation, do they want a sign?
- to listen and find out the reasons for opposition
- to refocus or re-strategize common threads
- fundraising leads
- positive engagement and demonstrate campaign momentum
- educate on candidate: personality, CV, why I’m voting for them (point of differentiation)
- quick name recognition
At the doors:
- ask about a script if you’re a first timer
- remember that door slamming saves you time - don’t take it personally
- what is your intro line?
- ask a question- do you know the candidate?
- do you know there’s an election?
- did you know the election is October 22?
- get the candidate's name out as soon as possible
- have you got a minute to talk with me?
- look at body language
- I'm voting for the candidate because ___, does that resonate with you, have you heard about that issue?
- respect that people’s opinions might just not be changeable.
- you’re on their turf
- safety: be sure you can see your canvass captain, go in pairs
- if you can disengage politely if necessary
- say “we can follow up” if you don’t know the answer
- honesty and authenticity
- data data data: make sure you report back
Before you go:
- practice on each other
- go with someone else, shadow an experienced canvasser
- ask the campaign about their safety protocol
- set a structure for doing well - tell yourself you'll do X doors and then end for the day
- prep yourself and think about why you’re doing it so you don’t take it personally when people don’t want to hear what you have to say
- focus on the reality that it’s a numbers game: doesn’t have to be warm and fuzzy but it does have to be done
- reflect on your values related to the candidate and to democracy
- manage your expectations for what you can achieve in that moment at the door
- stay hydrated
- wear deodorant, good shoes, and layers in the fall
- remember to take care of yourself
There as also a lovely suggestion to debrief after at a bar, to swap stories and share learnings. What a great idea to cap off a Broad Convos canvassing party! (Stay tuned for opportunities to go out canvassing together in the fall.)
Finally, we resolved to share the wealth, to talk about canvassing with feminist friends, and to support each other. It is scary but it is so worth it.
Thanks to everyone who attended and contributed so generously and thoughtfully!