Political canvassing is the backbone of all campaigns. Canvassing is imperative in the initiation of direct contact with individuals who may be inclined to support a political organization or solution. In-person contact with voters has also been proven to be a more effective method to reach voter bases. Whether it’s grassroots fundraising, political campaigning, or community awareness and engagement, voter base turn out is a direct reflection of the health of our democracy.
My Personal Experience
I began canvassing in February of 2022, in the early rumblings of the New Hampshire Democratic Parties Coordinated Campaign. From the jump, with lingering snow on the ground, my high school classmates and I spent each Saturday in the surrounding areas of Manchester and Concord, New Hampshire. Door to door we would knock, always asking the same equations, “what are issues you are thinking about when you head to the polls?” “How does Roe v. Wade makes you feel?” “Have you considered voting in the New Hampshire midterms?” In the awkward interaction with a mix of emotions, these conversations didn’t always feel like we were making a difference. So early into the midterm campaign, I didn’t realize I was doing my civic duty.
Effectiveness of Canvassing
According to Alan Gerber and Don Green, who were some of the first to run “field experiments” on voter turnout in 1998, phone calls and postcards were unlikely to get voters out the door to vote; canvassing, however, is a different story. A single in-person conversation between a volunteer and a voter greatly changed the likelihood that a voter would hit the polls at the election, increasing the turnout to about twenty percent, about nine percentage points. Over two decades later, Gerber and Green’s findings still stand true. A personal conversation with a voter is still one of the most effective ground-game campaign plans. Yet, impersonal methods continuously fail to provide voter-winners in any slice of data or population.
The Heath of Our Democracy
Seemingly a small percentage of the total population, these numbers can translate to greater margins in wins. The institution of elections and voting is a prime principal of the American experience and voter turnout may be just as important. Since 1980, the average voter turnout has been 56%. That is just over half of eligible American voters. So any small, meaningful interaction and positive force that can be garnered towards the institution of voting is a good one. High voter turnouts and registration indicates a healthy American democracy. Voter turnout promotes stability in the country and accountability for those voted to represent Americans.
Attempts to increase interaction and turnouts indicate a positive assessment of the United States’ health. Being able to provide resources and probe at meaningful topics and questions helps build a foundation where voters can speak and educate themselves on the current happenings within the democratic and outside. Canvassing limits the people who can withdraw from the political landscape. It is important to stay a vigilant and educated citizen and the knowledge that canvassing sparks in voters leads to turnout and possible increases in civic engagement beyond voting. In the world we live in today where rights are being stripped and civic engagement is being limited everyday, finding small ways to flex your civic muscles is the best way to ensure the health of the democratic machine.