Shared with permission from Jim Woods, Medina County Friends
And Neighbors (MCFAN)
When Lisa and I conduct our precinct canvassing training, most of the people have never done it before and are a little apprehensive about doing it for the first time. We try to follow our training immediately with an hour or two of actually doing it (kind of like a lesson on firearms being followed by actually shooting), and we try to pair newbies up with someone who has done it before. The newbie acts as the "scribe" and the old hand is the interviewer for the first few households, then they switch off. Usually the newbie starts enjoying it after the 3rd house. They discover that it is actually fun, and they get fired up because they are making new friends and helping people to become part of the solution. In fact, they often volunteer to come to the next class so that they can be the "experienced canvasser" that helps another newbie get started. Once is all it takes.
An ideal case was last spring when we helped a patriot in the next county over try to overturn the Oberlin School District's ban on the Pledge of Allegiance, enacted during the 1970's. Between ourselves and the Lorain 9/12 group we produced a good turnout, and outnumbered the ACLU and ACORN people who had come out in force to oppose this fellow's efforts, by about 60-40%. We were surprised by their turnout, and they were surprised by ours. There was a good debate, and the school board tabled the motion until the next meeting (to see which group won the turnout again).
One of the biggest yelps put out by the ACLU/ACORN crowd at the school board meeting was that so many Pledge supporters were from outside the Oberlin District. We decided to win the battle for turnout again at the next school board meeting, and this time to do it with Oberlin residents. That was a job for door-to-door campaigning.
We called for volunteers in Medina and Lorain counties, trained the volunteers to do precinct canvassing, and then all met at the patriot's house early Saturday morning (coffee and doughnuts) to canvas a couple of precincts where the party preference indicated we would have the most support. Only Lisa and I had ever done canvassing before, so we each paired up with someone who was particularly nervous about it, and everyone else paired up with someone else with whom they felt comfortable. We distributed the maps and walking lists our database guy had developed, and after a few final tips and encouragement, off we went.
Everyone returned to the patriot's house at the time in the evening that we had set for reconvening. Everyone was elated from the new experience, and over pizza and beer (provided by the patriot), several insisted on doing it again the following day. And the following weekend.
When the next school board meeting was held, we filled the room to capacity outnumbering the ACLU/ACORN bunch by 3 to 1, with most of the Pledge supporters being Oberlin residents who had never been to a school board meeting before. Canvassing works.
Best practices from the above are training, preparing materials, pairing up experienced with newbies, having a sociable kickoff, and a festive return.
Medina County Friends And Neighbors (MCFAN)
North East Ohio Conservative Coalition (NEOCC)
Advisory Board Member, Ohio Liberty Council (OLC)
American Friends And Neighbors (AmFANEdu)