Broad Conversations recently hosted two Feminist Canvassing Workshop days to offer a place for women and nonbinary 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
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
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!