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Does Messaging Matter for the Campaign Volunteer?

Volunteers don’t always “get” messaging. Though committed and enthusiastic, they are not often trained in the do’s and don’ts of what they can and can’t say on the campaign trail. A staff member at campaign headquarters may simply point a Super Saturday volunteer in the right direction after handing him a tablet (or sadly still, a printed walk book) uploaded with a walk list and survey questions, and a handful of campaign literature.

But not to worry. Messaging for canvassers is important, but in an in-depth voter canvassing piece released by Voter Gravity, Assistant Professor of Political Science at The University of Alabama Dr. George Hawley sheds some light on this dilemma:

“One may be concerned about relying on an army of volunteers to engage in voter canvassing. Will volunteers stay on message? Will they be able to precisely gauge how to best present information to a potential voter? While proper training is important, training does not have to take long and one does not need to be a professional to be an effective canvasser. Scholars have attempted to discern whether certain scripts are more effective than others when it comes to voter outreach. There is little evidence at this point that the content of the message matters very much. It is the personal contact, ideally with someone from the potential voter’s community, which matters the most.”

Perhaps this will ease your mind a little as you oversee volunteers going door-to-door over the next few weeks. A less-informed volunteer is less likely to hurt your campaign than you first might think. What is more damaging to a campaign is canvassers who do not present well (as in appearance) and who are not friendly.

To read more about the stats on voter canvassing and its effectiveness, read Dr. Hawley’s full piece here: In The Trenches: What Republican Operatives Need to Know About Voter Canvassing.