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Why We Love Voter Canvassing (And You Should Too)

Is paying between $7-$19 dollars per vote too much? Not when you compare it to the $60 per vote that campaigns pay for direct mailings. When you send people to campaign door-to-door, it averages out to $15 per vote if you pay them $10 per hour. Of course, if they volunteer, it doesn’t cost you anything. This is one of the reasons why voter canvassing is the most tried, true and effective way to gain support as a campaign. In an in depth piece exploring the effectiveness of voter canvassing, Assistant Professor of Political Science at The University of Alabama Dr. George Hawley referenced several fascinating studies done by Green and Gerber, the preeminent scholars on campaign techniques. He notes:

“They estimated that face-to-face voter mobilization increases voter turnout by 53 percent among those canvassed in a local election. These results are congruent with older studies, such as those conducted by Rosenstone and Hansen and Verba, Schlozman, and Brady. In their analysis of all the major studies conducted on voter canvassing, Green and Gerber found that the overwhelming majority of all research on the subject indicates that voter canvassing boosts turnout. Based on their thorough examination of all the relevant research, they concluded that one additional vote is generated for every fourteen voters that canvassers contact. In a tight race, effective voter contact can make the difference between victory and defeat. As they noted in the conclusion of a 2003 study of canvassing in local elections (which concluded that as few as twelve face-to-face contacts with voters were necessary to earn an additional vote), at a large scale, voter canvassing can have an impressive effect and be worth the expense.”

This means that if you pay canvassers $10 per hour and they travel in pairs; making 8 contacts per hour, you will be paying that $15 per vote. Read the full paper for more insight on face-to-face campaigning: In The Trenches: What Republican Operatives Need to Know About Voter Canvassing.