Election canvassing is a process by which candidates, volunteers, and political campaigns can reach out to voters in a constituency, traditionally by going door-to-door. Such door-knocking campaigns are aimed at:
- Motivating voters to go out and vote on election day.
- Understanding voter beliefs, motivations and desires.
- Conducting surveys that assist with campaign strategy.
- Spreading the mission, vision and goals of an election campaign.
- Promoting a candidate running for office.
While many studies have found that election canvassing, especially around the voting day, effectively increases voter turnout by almost 9%, many experts don’t seem to think the same way. They believe phone banking and texting voters is a much more effective strategy to increase voter outreach and turnout.
With rules and regulations about door-to-door canvassing changing ever so frequently, it might be a good idea to take virtual canvassing more seriously. But before we have a look at virtual canvassing, let’s find out why election canvassing – whether door-to-door or virtual – is essential.
Election canvassing helps candidates gain exposure
Election canvassing is a sure-shot way to impact the outcome of elections. Especially in high stake local elections, where the winning margin is paper-thin, canvassing can play a significant role in determining the outcome of elections.
It allows the candidate to have personal interactions with their voter base and instill more confidence in their voters. A candidate can be well qualified, have the best ideas as well as work hard at winning, but if they are not popular amongst the people, the chances of them getting elected are slim.
Therefore, it is important that a candidate takes full advantage of the canvassing campaign to introduce themselves to voters.
Taking center stage in their campaign’s outreach efforts through canvassing can do a whole lot of good to first-time candidates especially, and provide them with a direct entry onto the political stage at their local community level.
Election canvassing increases voter turnout
As discussed, election canvassing can impact voter turnout by up to 9%, and is especially effective around election day.
Through election canvassing, volunteers can help new and unregistered voters sign up for voting, make them aware of the process, and follow up with them before election day to go to the polling booths.
Many people report follow-ups by campaign volunteers as a primary reason for showing up to vote. A nudge is generally all it takes to reach out to voters who would not have otherwise voted.
However, most of these results depend on how strategically your campaign accommodates election canvassing.
Election canvassing can persuade the undecided voters
While the world may seem skewed towards one direction or the other, with half going right and the other half going left, it is not really true.
Social media and political discussions on television might make us believe in a duality in which one camp wins over the other. However, the ground reality is that most people are usually undecided. Known as ‘swing voters’, this key demographic is who election campaigns are majorly targeted towards.
It is said that it is easier to convert new and undecided voters into your supporters for an election as compared to converting long-standing supporters of a rival campaign. Reach out to new and swing voters via texts and calls during canvassing to ensure an ongoing relationship with the voter and increase supporter count on the day that it matters the most.
Election canvassing identifies support groups
Canvassing gives an accurate measure of how many people, which communities and which demographic is most likely to support a candidate. Once you are out canvassing, you will have the answers to these questions:
- Which local community identifies with and supports our campaign?
- What are the concerns and motivations of this community?
- Are young people supporting me, or is the older generation more inclined towards my idea?
- How do I get others to like my campaign?
- What is the best way to reach out to and persuade these voters?
Attune your campaign to find the solutions to these problems, and you are on your way to campaign success. Once you have the answers to these questions, optimising your campaign becomes very simple.
Election Canvassing can open doors for a campaign that would otherwise remain shut. While the idea of virtual canvassing sounds good on paper, it might be a little confusing at first.
The waves of COVID-19 have gone high and low ever since 2020 and the rules and regulations surrounding it change every minute. However, what this has done is add ‘convenience’ to our lives. Really anything can be done from home! The same goes with election canvassing. A mobile device is the easiest point of contact that one can have with another.
A large number of the young population prefers being communicated to via texts and would like to receive information that they could easily research and verify. Information received online is also highly likely to leave an impact on the minds of people while still allowing them the freedom to make their own decisions.
Here are some tools that can help you shift your election canvassing plans to remote operations and receive a great response:
Phonebanking is a way for campaign staff, volunteers and candidates to reach out to and identify supporters by making calls. Through phone banking, you can:
- Identify supporters
- Raise funds
- Conduct surveys
- Persuade voters to support your campaign
By using phonebanking, you can connect your volunteers to hundreds of potential supporters within an hour. All you have to do is choose which phonebanking tool is the most compatible with your campaign. Some options include
Manual Calling: Through manual calling, volunteers need to manually dial each number and get through to potential supporters. Campaign managers can provide them with a script that they can follow to get the best results out of this campaign.
Auto Dialers: Auto dialers come in many forms. The agents connect to software through which they can go through voter lists and phone numbers and speak with the target audience more efficiently. They speed up the process of calling contacts by running numbers in your phonebooks automatically and connecting answered calls with free agents.
There is an increased aversion to picking up phone calls led by the millennial generation, followed by Gen-Z. These demographics are best targeted through a medium of communication that they are most comfortable with: text messaging.
Text messaging is a great way to canvass elections, especially when doing it at a large scale within a short amount of time. Below are few ways to canvass for elections through text messaging:
SMS Opt-in: When you want people to actively engage with you, SMS opt-in is a great way to ensure that happens. People have an option to opt into your SMS service through which you can collect data such as their name, location, gender etc. – of course after they consent to it. These data points are very useful for your campaign strategy. An SMS opt-in is a legal way to begin following text canvassing campaigns (with mass and P2P texting).
Peer-to-peer messaging: With 36 times higher responses than emails, peer-to-peer text messaging is the best way to personalise your campaign according to the intended audience. P2P texting allows open-ended conversations at scale. With merge tags, saved responses and auto-scheduling, you can personalize and manage high-volume campaigns with almost no manual efforts.
Mass texting: Mass texting is the most useful when you do not intend to have a two-way conversation with the receivers. You can share deadlines, locations for voting, timely reminders for registration and much more. You can also set auto-responses for preset trigger words.
Mailer campaigns are a great way to reach out to people. Email marketing campaigns have an ROI of 42:1. For every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $42. You can create engaging mailer campaigns that are sure to grab the attention of your voter base.
Here are some mailer campaign ideas you can implement:
GOTV mailer: Get out the vote campaigns encouraging people to take action and vote on election day.
Behind-the-scenes: This gives your subscribers a sneak peek into how hard your campaign is working for them.
Candidate information: Tell people about the candidate your campaign is representing. Let them into the candidate’s world by sharing inspiring or moving stories from the candidate’s life, their vision, mission and future plans.
Campaign stands and policies: Why is your campaign different? What are the policies and ideological stands that your campaign would stand behind? How is it different from your competitors?
Adapting to the changing environment and the needs of the people (read: convenience) is the mark of a smart campaign. Moving election canvassing from offline doorknocking campaigns to online virtual canvassing in a world that has quickly evolved to accept it, is a great way of ensuring you reach a larger number of people.
While you’re deciding on virtual election canvassing, you could also have a look at some great communications tools that would help this campaign. Have a look at Robocent’s texting and calling software that would be a perfect partner to your campaign efforts.