News / Blog

Door-to-Door Canvassing: Collecting Data That Matters

Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Upon reaching the top of the hill, Jack got distracted because he saw dozens of empty pails all sitting around the well. Some of these pails were very nice, so he and Jill both grabbed as many pails as they could carry and walked back down the hill. When they got to the bottom of the hill Jack and Jill were both soundly scolded because they had wasted all kinds of time collecting more pails than they would ever need, when all they were supposed to do was fill their one pail with water so that they would have something to revive their unconscious, and overheated mother.

Keep Track of What Matters

Is there anything wrong with bringing home nice pails? No. Is there anything wrong with having more pails than you will probably use? No. The problem with collecting the pails is that time is of the essence. Jack and Jill needed one pail full of water, not the potential for a dozen pails full. Moreover, they needed that one pail full now. It was a matter of keeping track of what was needed as opposed to what might have been nice, or what looked good.

In campaigning, it is important to remember what matters and what makes a difference when you are deciding what metrics to track. Talking to people makes exponentially more difference than leaving campaign literature on their doorstep. So count the one full pail rather than the 12 empty ones.

Only Count Meaningful Data Tags

Focus on data tags that are meaningful. “Dog Owner” is not a meaningful data tag for your campaign. Not that there is anything wrong with having that data, but if you are counting it as part of the “tags collected” metric that will help you win an election, you are lying to yourself, and just trying to make your numbers look good. Reject vanity metrics and focus on the substantive metrics.

Live Conversations Matter More

Metrics are only as good as their utility. Knowing how many voters you left literature for is only marginally helpful. Knowing how many you have talked to is much more so. Knowing what which issues voters care about is meaningful. Do they care about abortion, civil unions, the Second Amendment, immigration, or transportation? Know what they think about those issues. But even more importantly, ask them what the most important issue is for them in the current election. If you know that someone is voting and what the most important issue is to that voter in that given election, that is the kind of data you need. These are the tags you should be accumulating. So make sure to stay focused on the right metrics and the right questions that make a difference.