Regardless of your campaign budget, meeting voters face to face is always a good idea. The key is to maximize your time and get the most impact door to door campaigning as you canvass neighborhoods.
It is important to recognize that there are several goals when it comes to door knocking. The first goal should be obvious – earning the support of voters in the district where your name will be on the ballot. In addition to that, canvassing neighborhoods should also reinforce voters perception of who you are as a candidate who is willing to put in the hard work, engaging, accessible, professional, personable, and polite. These are the attributes (most) voters reward on election day.
But wait! Before you tie your shoes and roll up your sleeves, there are some door to door campaigning tips we’d like to share as you get ready to go.
- Prepare a list of houses that are worth knocking on. Refer to a voter checklist and cross off homes where residents haven’t voted in a long time. Households where residents consistently show up to vote, year after year, are the top priority.
*If you are in a partisan race take this a step further and pre-determine which households vote in your party’s primary!
- Dress to impress. This doesn’t mean business attire. But put some thought into what you should wear. Neat, clean, comfortable and weather appropriate!
- Bring campaign literature with you and leave them behind if nobody answers the door. Do not put campaign literature in the mailbox! Leave them on the door (preferably the door that gets the most use).
- Pre-write a bunch of notes (we use sticky notes) that say “Sorry to miss you” to leave on your campaign literature at their door if nobody is home.
- Pack some gear. Grab a notepad, pens, bottle of water and if you have yard signs, keep a stack in your car in case you meet a voter who will place one on their lawn to showcase their support!
- Don’t forget to take some pictures to share via social media. Let your supporters know that you are working hard for every vote!
- Don’t talk past the sale! Keep your pitch very short at the door and when/if you earn someone’s support, say “Thank you,” and leave. The more you talk, the easier it will be for them to find something they dislike.
If you have volunteers who want to help you with door knocking there are a few things to consider. Let’s assume they connect with voters – what kind of impression will they give? They need to represent you and your candidacy as well as you would. If their personality and demeanor overshadow your brand, that could be a big problem.
Let’s assume you have a few volunteers who you think will do a great job representing your campaign. We strongly suggest providing them a “dos and don’ts” list of rules so that everyone is on the same page along with a sample script or some suggestions for what to say when greeting a voter.
- Dress appropriately. Clean, neat and comfortable.
- Read the campaign material before you start. Understand the candidate’s positions on the major issues and be familiar with his/her biography.
- Be polite, respectful and positive when engaging with voters.
- Always admit you don’t know the answer to the question and offer to follow up with them later with the correct information.
- Leave campaign literature at the door that seems to be the most frequently used. Is there a side door visible that seems to be the primary entrance?
- Never leave campaign literature in a mailbox. (It’s against the law!)
- Don’t hang around a house for longer than 30 seconds if nobody answers the door.
- Don’t get into heated debates over the issues. Simply thank them for their time and move on.
- Don’t be negative about the opponent.
- Don’t enter a voter’s home.
Thank you for doing what you do to help and encourage first time candidates. My wife Linda is a candidate for the Alum Rock School Board ,San Jose, Ca. in November 2018. I served on that same board from 2005 to 2014 and I am now supporting her effort.
I will be entering her name, email and website below.