If you’ve ever worked on a campaign, you know how important smart canvassing can be to reach critical voters efficiently.
In our previous blog, we talked in general terms about the things you need to put together a successful canvassing campaign: paper vs. digital walk books, data, and a canvassing team. In this blog, we’re going to look more closely at the importance of just one of those items — data.
The best way to ensure you aren’t wasting your time by knocking on the wrong doors is to have a walk book that utilizes good, solid, up-to-date data — an essential aide for campaign managers and staffers everywhere.
Nearly every campaign has a walk book in some way, shape or form. In the past few years, the old-fashioned paper version has gotten some stellar digital upgrades. If you're not there yet, now is the time — and here's why.
Today, Data is King
In the early days, walk books were little more than data collected manually over the years about registered voters in a given district. The data was handwritten on paper and often out of date. Paper walk books still exist, but they must be updated ruthlessly in order to maintain efficiency.
In 2014, data is king, in marketing, sales, and especially in campaigns. Easily accessible, sophisticated data about every voter in your district, from the party faithful to fence-sitters, can be logged into a walk book for every staffer or volunteer to access.
4 Essential Types of Walk Book Data
Your walk book should include 4 essential pieces of data to help you pinpoint and motivate the right voter — and data is never-ending these days, so listen up.
Those 4 essential types of data are:
• Up-to-date addresses, to avoid embarrassing moments and to save a canvasser’s time and energy
• Geocoding, for the best & easiest routes in each territory
• Householding, so the canvassers knows such details as how many voters live in each residence and what party they normally vote for
• Scripts, with a distinct and specific message for the targeted voter
Now let’s look at some of these points more closely.
Geocoding is a mapping system which uses interpolations to identify addresses within a geographic space. Good geocoding will help a canvasser take the fastest routes, avoid road closures, and know whether to walk or drive. Additionally, it can help you get from one neighborhood to the next in the fastest and easiest way possible.
Choose a geocoding service that provides the voter data you’ve already identified as key to your campaign. Providing your own database, drawn from lists in state or county offices, carries risks because those addresses are rarely updated or purged. What’s more, data from such offices is seldom ready to be geocoded, and voter records can be lost in the geocoding process.
A plus, especially for longer campaigns, is a geocoded system that updates, on its own, its voter records so you’ll always have the most up-to-date data without any disruption in service.
When determining which geocoding service to use, also be sure it’s available across the different platforms your canvassers might use, whether iPhone, Android or Windows.
Householding allows a canvasser to see relevant information about all the voters at a particular residence — not just the prospective voter who might answer the door.
That relevant data could range from past voting history (including off-year elections) to club membership and volunteer services, which personalize the approach. Some data services, like i360, even specialize in compiling data for pro-free-market advocates, causes and candidates, targeting both supporters and those persuadable to become a supporter.
But it’s scripts, perhaps, that best define the capacity, and advantages, of the modern walk book.
Scripts, pre-written and targeted to different types of likely supporters, help canvassers avoid anxiety-ridden introductions and get straight to the point. A good script goes a long way in helping a canvasser bring the persuadable voter to see that your candidate is the ideal candidate. It can make all the difference in whether or not a genuine connection is made.
For canvassing, scripts should be brief and advocating; the canvasser is there to expand knowledge about the candidate more than to explain positions on policy issues.
Good walking books also include features that let canvassers record the answers to campaign-specific questions and load them instantly to central serves that manage the incoming information, so that headquarters receive the responses in real-time. This information, once processed, can also be of good use in further contact with prospective voters.
A Few Other Pointers
The more in-depth you can get with your walk book, the better.
Do you have access to the income and education levels of people in the home you are targeting?
Is your digital walk book communicating with walk books in use by other canvassers in the area, so your campaign isn’t duplicating work — and turning off the very people whose support you’re seeking?
Is the canvasser being sent to a given territory the most appropriate choice? For example, you wouldn't want to send a big guy to neighborhood with lots of single moms at home. Likewise, it would be helpful to have a Spanish speaker as your canvasser to a decidedly Spanish neighborhood.
As we've seen from past elections — especially the last two presidential runs — a personal connection can make all the difference between a winning campaign and a non-winning one.
Campaigns today need to be as smart as they are aggressive — and in 2014, data rules when it comes to knowing which voters to target and how best to target them.
If you’re interested in for your political campaign or issue effort, contact a Campaign Now voter contact specialist today by calling (855) 329-4327 or email email@example.com.