These past few weeks, I have been doing a fair share of canvassing. Canvassing, for those who don’t know (I didn’t really until about a year ago), is when you go door-to-door around a neighborhood with or without flyers (but definitely with a clipboard!). There are different aims when you go canvassing, such as spreading awareness of the election and your candidate, summoning up volunteers, and convincing residents to vote whichever way you want them to.
It’s pretty scary when, working on a political campaign such as mine, you discover how much data exists about each and every person and how readily that information is available on the Voter Activation Network or VAN. Using different propensity scores on dozens of different indicators such as volunteer likelihood or likelihood to vote Republican, Democratic, or Independent, we build lists of different neighborhoods and houses to knock on. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t just knock on each and every door. Everything you do is targeted. Sometimes, you even divide neighborhoods up further based on walkability for the canvasser(s).
While I usually canvass alone, as I have done it before, this time I took a new volunteer with me to teach her. We were scared away and barked at by three different dogs, met with dozens of “No Soliciting” signs (canvassing for political campaigns actually isn’t soliciting, though!) and weird looks from local people outside. Half of the people on our list weren’t at home or at least didn’t come to the door. Canvassing is always a mixed bag!