The best way for a candidate running for local office to get known and pick up supporters is by walking precincts. Candidates who put in the time and effort to knock on doors and talk to voters have many advantages over those who don’t do it. But you can’t hit the street empty handed. You need to take these five things with you.
1. Targeted Voters Lists
Never ever ever go out to walk precincts without a list of targeted voting households to go to. Hitting every house on a block is a waste of your time and energy that undermines your campaign.
Not all residents on any given block are registered voters. And the residents who are registered to vote don’t always do so.
You need to have a list of houses where your targeted voters live and knock on their doors. Your targeted voters will be those you need to vote for you to turnout if you want to win.
They are the only ones who should be on your lists. And they are the only ones you should care about.
After going to their door you need to make on your voters lists – whether they are paper or electronic – the outcome of your interaction at the door.
Note whom you spoke to, if they will support you, if they are undecided, or if they are against you. Put down whether they are home or not.
Your campaign can and should use this information to target your future dealings with these voters.
2. A Handout
Never go door to door empty handed. Always have a handout when you walk.
For most candidates a walk piece is the first thing they have printed on the campaign.
You want to be able to hand voters something that provides them with a concise sketch of who you are and what you stand for. It will serve as the launching point of any conversation you may have with a voter.
A lot of people are busy, so they will take your material but won’t have time to talk with you.
That’s okay. Your walk piece will go inside with them which at the very least will serve as a point of contact with them that raises your name ID and your profile as a candidate.
If there’s no one home, be sure to leave your handout behind for them. It’s not as effective as handing it to a voter in person, but if they’re on your targeted list you definitely want them to know you’ve come by their home.
3. Endorsement Cards
If you are having a good conversation with a voter and they say they will vote for you, ask them if you can publicly use their name as a supporter of your campaign.
These local endorsements are important. They will have weight with neighbors you may not get a chance to talk with as you walk.
But you never want to use any persons name publicly if you don’t have a signed card from them. Some will forget they gave you permission to do so or won’t understand exactly what you mean when you ask them if you can use their name.
Having a supporter sign an endorsement card takes that confusion away.
That’s why along with your handouts you want to have a good clip of endorsement cards stuffed in your pockets when you walk
4. Leave Behind
When there’s no one home at one of the homes you target in your precinct walking, you want to leave something behind at the locked door.
Most candidates will simply write “Sorry I Missed You” with a Sharpie and leave that on the door.
That works, but there’s a more effective way to leave something behind that will make you stand out in the minds of the voters.
Take with you little note cards, small thank you cards typically work, and leave a personalized note to the voters you were trying to connect with.
It’s different than what most candidates are doing and it shows that you are willing to go the extra mile.
Such personalized notes will also help you get more calls from voters who come home and find your card waiting for them than if they only came home to see your walk piece laying on their door mat.
5. Yard Signs
The best place for you to put your yard signs is in the yards of voters.
This advertises support to their neighbors. It also serves as a secondary commitment from a voter who says they will be voting for you.
Whether or not they will sign an endorsement card, always ask a voter who says they support you if you can place a sign in their yard.
If they say yes, you want to have them in your car and deliver them while you are in that precinct. It takes a lot more work to come back later or to send someone over in a few days to deliver the signs.
You want to lock in that supporter right then and there, so have plenty of eye-catching campaign signs in your car when you head out to knock on doors.
If you hit enough doors and win over enough supporters, hopefully you won’t have any signs left in your car when you decide to call it a day on your precinct walking.
When you’re walking precincts and going door to door on your campaign, never go out empty handed.
Always have with you targeted voter lists, handouts, endorsement cards, leave behind cards, and yard signs.
You’ll make the most out of your time on the street and move closer towards victory when you do canvas neighborhoods this way.