Canvassing 101: Myths vs Realities

Now that the campaign to get the repeal of SB5 on the ballot is complete, the campaign to win the No on issue 2 is underway. This campaign will require more than just TV and radio ads. Just like the effort to collect signatures, the effort to persuade a majority of voters to vote No on Issue 2 will require lots of hard work by thousands of volunteers.

One of the tasks volunteers will be asked to do is canvass potential voters who might support our effort to repeal SB5 by voting No on Issue 2. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about political canvassing

Canvassing is the systematic initiation of direct contact with a target group of individuals commonly used during political campaigns. A campaign team (and during elections a candidate) will knock on doors of private residences within a particular geographic area, engaging in face-to-face personal interaction with voters. Canvassing may also be performed by telephone, where it is referred to as telephone canvassing. The main purpose of canvassing is to perform voter identification – to poll how individuals are planning to vote – rather than to argue with or persuade voters.[1] This preparation is an integral part of a 'get out the vote' operation, in which known supporters are contacted on polling day and reminded to cast their ballot.

Knocking on the doors of strangers and asking them about their political support may sound daunting if you've never done it before. All kinds of questions may run through your mind. What if they are busy? What if they are just rude? What if they are vehemently opposed to voting No on Issue 2?

Well the good news is that the reality of canvassing can be quite enjoyable. For example, remeber those 1.3 million people who signed the petition to repeal SB5? Those will be one of the prime targets for contacting via a canvass, and those people will most likely be very pleased to hear from, and talk to, you.

From our mailbag, here's some mythbusting points worth sharing

Myths about Canvassing

Myth 1: People will yell and argue.
You are only going to persuadable voters. The educated voter, one who votes in every election and always votes in Democrat or Republican primaries will NOT be on your list. You are calling and knocking on doors of the voters who are 35%-70% likely to vote and are independents or democrats.

Myth 2: What I say won’t matter. People already have their minds made up about this issue.
Actually, the majority of doors we knocked on were people who had never heard of SB 5! I know, it seems impossible, but there is a large contingent of people just waiting for us to educate them.

Myth 3: I won’t be able to persuade people.
There are four types of people I‘ve encountered on the neighborhood walks:
Person 1: already knows all about it; supports you; doesn’t even let you finish your script
Person 2: has heard about it, but really has no clue what it is about
Person 3: has never heard of SB 5
Person 4: supports SB 5 and will vote yes

Person 1 gives you hope and make you want to continue down the list. Person 4 (I’ve only encountered one, and he wasn’t on the list - his wife was.) Your job isn’t to persuade this person. It is a waste of your time. Smile, thank them for their time and move to the next address.
Person 2 and Person 3 are the most important. They are the majority of people you will encounter. The most persuasive thing I’ve said to these people… “I’m a teacher.” Seriously, I learned half way through my first shift, to skip talk about firefighters, police officers, and nurses. As soon as I mentioned my profession, people smiled and asked me my opinion. Some wanted to know how it would affect me, but the majority just wanted to know if they should vote yes or no.

Teachers and Educational Support Professionals have the power to make the biggest difference in this repeal. It's critical that as many people as possible become engaged in this part of the campaign. You can find local canvassing opportunities in your area by visiting the We Are Ohio events page here. Recruit a friend or colleague to go with you!