Activism

Published on August 14th, 2018 | by Guest Contributor

0

Canvassing: The Hard Work That Can Bring The Blue Wave

Amy Teitelman, Cincinnati Regional Director, For Our Future Ohio

By Amy Teitelman
Cincinnati Regional Director, For Our Future Ohio

Direct door-to-door voter contact is one of the most effective ways to mobilize voters in an election. Meaningful, face to face interactions between a voter and a canvasser can change the outcome of an election. Yet every election cycle, candidate campaigns and political action committees (PACs) dump billions of dollars into the arms race of TV ads — and not nearly enough into robust field canvass programs.

Why?

There are a lot of reasons. But in my experience, the main reason is that, well, running an effective canvassing operation is hard. A lot of time and resources go into a canvass, whether it’s paid or volunteer. For a canvass to be successful, field programs must be intentional about investing in the canvassers. From training canvassers one-on-one on how to successfully engage with voters, to keeping morale up during long hours, to recording data accurately, to managing the operational logistics of running a canvass, successful canvass operations can be a time-intensive labor of love.

A well-trained, motivated, and encouraged group of canvassers can have a ripple effect on the community they canvass.

The individual experience of a canvasser can be difficult, too. Canvassing can be repetitive. It’s physically and mentally challenging. The weather can be unpredictable. Cincinnati is hilly. There are occupational hazards: stray dogs, broken porch steps, cranky voters. Far too frequently, people even call the police on canvassers — and this happens disproportionately to people of color. Even candidates themselves have been stopped by the police while canvassing. There is a lot for a canvasser to worry about.

That’s the bad news. And there is nothing our opponents would love more than for us to become discouraged, pack it up, and never knock another door again.

Not. A. Freaking. Chance. 

Here’s the good news: despite all of the very serious obstacles, field programs are still canvassing the heck out of Ohio and other battleground states this midterm, and we’re doing it with gusto.

The conversations we are having at voters’ doors could very well make the difference in the outcome of the election this year. At For Our Future Ohio, we focus on training our canvassers to listen carefully to voters’ opinions.

Every single conversation with a voter is an opportunity to make a difference. Many voters start out dubious but open up enthusiastically once they realize that someone in their community actually cares about what they think. I recently had a canvasser tell me, “It seemed like this voter had been waiting her whole life for someone to knock on her door and ask her opinion. I was the first person to ever talk to her about what she thought and felt about issues impacting her community”

A well-trained, motivated, and encouraged group of canvassers can have a ripple effect on the community they canvass. When our canvassers go into neighborhoods, they can provide in-depth insight into the candidates and issues, and they become the expert in their personal networks too. People in their lives start to consider the canvasser their go-to person when they have questions about their government and the candidates running for office. Canvassers get out the vote by knocking on doors in the community, but they also motivate their families and friends to vote, too.

“It seemed like this voter had been waiting her whole life for someone to knock on her door and ask her opinion. I was the first person to ever talk to her about what she thought and felt about issues impacting her community”

We know that canvassing works, and we know how to do it well. Now, all we need is you.

There’s a lot at stake in this year’s midterm elections. The future of our health care, the state of our schools, the health of our environment, the quality of our infrastructure: all of these will be determined by those who represent us in the Statehouse and in Congress. And while it’s important that Ohioans continue to call their representatives, show up at rallies, sign petitions, register people to vote, and contribute to candidates, we must also engage with voters directly on their doorsteps!


If you don’t have the time or inclination to take a regular paid canvassing gig, consider spending a few evenings or Saturdays each month canvassing with a volunteer operation. You will make a difference — you have no idea how great.For more information on what For Our Future Ohio is doing across the state and how you can get involved, visit http://forohiosfuture.org/on-the-ground/.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


About the Author



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top ↑