Canvassing is a bread-and-butter political campaigning tactic. Door-to-door voter persuasion has been a key tool in campaigners’ toolkits ever since Aaron Burr began campaigning in-person way back in 1800. Canvassing has come a long way since then; while door-knocking used to be organized on clipboards and whiteboards, many modern campaigns use a canvassing app to arrange their GOTV efforts.
The essence of canvassing has remained the same over all of these years, though: voters are more compelled to take part in an election when they interact directly with the candidate or a surrogate volunteer. That’s why canvassing has remained a core political tactic for over two hundred years. Here’s a bit more about canvassing, and how 21st century campaigns are making voter contact happen:
The dictionary definition of canvassing is “to go through (a district) or go to (persons) in order to solicit orders or political support or to determine opinions or sentiments.” That’s a fancy way of saying that canvassing involves reaching out directly to voters to see how they feel about registering to vote, supporting a candidate, or getting involved in issue advocacy.
One of the most common methods of canvassing in modern political campaigning is door-knocking. Electoral campaigns organize a group of volunteers to walk through specific neighborhoods and go door-to-door to greet voters, ask whether they’re registered to vote, and see how they feel about supporting a specific candidate. If successful, canvassers leave the doorstep with a new voter registration form in hand, or a new pledge to vote for their candidate.
A canvassing app can be hugely helpful in streamlining how volunteers engage with voters and report data back to the campaign. For in-person door knocking efforts, a tool like MiniVAN can help campaign administrators cut turf and optimize routes to help volunteers complete their assignments efficiently. Plus, administrators can gain more insight into door-knocking results and continue to optimize their outreach efforts.
Outside of planned door-knocking shifts, volunteers can also engage with voters via open canvassing. Volunteers can meet voters where they already are: at a political rally, a neighborhood event, or even the grocery store. With a canvassing app like Impactive, these volunteers can report back on their impromptu voter conversations instantly. Volunteers can simply search the voter file, locate the correct voter, and file a report with tags and notes so the campaign can gain insight into voter sentiment.
Plus, Impactive’s Open Canvassing functionality allows volunteers to canvass offline and send data back to the campaign when they reconnect to wifi or cellular data. Offline canvassing is vital for organizers working in remote parts of the company, or areas without strong broadband access.
In-person door knocking is a tried-and-true method that campaigns are unlikely to give up anytime soon. However, the COVID-19 pandemic proved that campaigns can’t rely solely on live canvassing; they must be prepared with a suite of digital organizing tools to engage voters both online and offline.
Therein lies the power of an all-in-one canvassing app like Impactive. Open Canvassing on Impactive is the perfect fit for organizers knocking doors in-person, but it doesn’t stop there. Campaigns can also manage their entire digital outreach and engagement campaigns on Impactive, leveraging solutions like Friends and Family Messaging, Peer-to-Peer Texting, Broadcast Texting, and more. With Impactive, the same set of volunteers can take action both in-person and online, maximizing functionality for any campaign or cause.
Campaigns that leverage a canvassing app are likely to be more effective in their voter mobilization efforts, particularly if the app allows volunteers to organize both online and offline. All of these methods of canvassing are essential for helping voters connect with the democratic process and exercise their right to vote.