On January 1, 2014, Tom Basile took office as Councilman for the Town of Stony Point, New York. As a result of a hard-fought campaign, Republicans took back control of the Town Board and now hold a 4-1 majority. Basile states, “One of the highlights was also one of the most difficult parts. I made a commitment to go door-to-door personally, to as many households as I possibly could and take my message directly to the voters. I started in July, walked after work, on weekends, and whenever I could going door-to-door to targeted homes in the district. I probably hit about 75% of the town over the course of the campaign.”
Here at Voter Gravity we agree with Basile that the more hands you can shake, the closer you are to winning. Take note of these five tips to get you started as you seek to reach your voters:
1. Have A Specific Map – Door-to-door campaigning can eat up a lot of thought and time, both in planning and execution. Don’t treat the houses on your route like locations on a treasure map– going up, down and around in circles before finally getting to your destination. Time is precious, so make sure you know exactly which neighborhoods you’ll be targeting, and the quickest routes between them. Organization and planning is even more vital if you’re running a larger campaign where you have groups of volunteers knocking on doors. Use technology like Voter Gravity to create streamlined walk lists beforehand to make sure you cover ground effectively, saving time that may otherwise be wasted in looking for the right neighborhoods and houses.
2. Don’t You Want Them to Vote for YOU? – During most campaigns, it’s simply impossible for the candidate to do all the door knocking themselves. However, the whole point of going door-to-door is to introduce yourself and your ideas to people who might want to support you. A personal introduction and statement of your plans and convictions will be most effective coming directly from the source. Don’t underestimate how much you’re actually able to do on this front.
3. Be Prepared – The last thing people want at their door is a candidate who doesn’t know how to highlight his passions, or who talks about things that don’t interest them. Neither do voters want to be bombarded with your entire 10-minute platform speech in addition to packets of handouts with too much information. Try to strike a balance by introducing yourself briefly, being polite, and knowing exactly what you want to say before you reach the door. Also closely observe the yard and house before entering. Pay attention to the little things like toys in the yard, bumper stickers on the cars, flag hanging off the porch, etc. These observations can give you a starting point for your conversation.
4. Stay Positive – If you live in a large city, the prospect of speaking with so many people before the election can seem daunting. Find ways to make door-to-door work fun. Maybe reward you and your team at certain milestones – one fourth completed, a target number of doors hit, etc. This part of your campaign is extremely important, so if you’re feeling down about it, find ways to make it interesting and bring the spark back. After all, this is your chance to talk about what makes you excited, and why you’re running for office.
5. Keep Track – It’s important to keep a very close eye on every door that you knock on, every person you speak with, and every neighborhood you circulate. Keeping track of your progress can give you perspective. If you’re not used to door-to-door campaigns, one day may make you feel as if you’ve knocked on every door in your town, when in fact you’ve only hit a few neighborhoods. Or possibly the reverse – you may feel like you’ve accomplished nothing when in fact you’ve already spoken with nearly everyone in your precinct. Regardless of how you feel after a day out knocking, closely monitoring your progress will keep your expectations realistic.