“Just one in-person conversation had a profound effect on a voter’s likelihood to go to the polls, boosting turnout by a whopping 20 percent.”
Before I threw my energy into almost a year of knocking on stranger’s door in unfamiliar neighborhoods, I needed to be convinced that canvassing was an effective way to increase voter turnout. As a political neophyte, I was cynical about simply accepting axioms about what worked as inherited fact. So I conducted my own research.
What I discovered was as much startling as it was unsurprising. Unsurprisingly, people respond to people. And face-to-face meetings are the most effective motivators. But astonishingly, these personal meetings, howsoever brief, can drive the outcome.
You want data to prove this? I’ve got it. But I’m not going down that rabbit hole because I’ll lose you in the wonky detail. What I will share is this from the Fund for the Public Interest, “By far the most effective way to turn out voters is with high-quality, face-to-face conversations that urge them to vote. How do we know? Nearly two decades of rigorous randomized experiments have proven it.”
The Grassroots Field Army
In years before, invested constituencies from labor unions, churches & synagogues and other civic organizations could staff canvassing projects. But membership in these community-based groups has flagged. And, with more money than ever in politics, the prevailing view is that voter attention can be purchased with media coverage. So the personal ground game has succumbed to impersonal digital, audio and visual assaults. But it is not as effective.
Raising a field army of grassroots volunteers is the new resource. That’s what we’re doing.
Reference source: Fund for the Public Interest