This evening, my wife and I were door knocked for the first time this election cycle. A very earnest paid canvasser from a union backed entity asked us half a dozen questions, got our contact information and engaged in small chit chat. He stayed on our porch for ten minutes as a nasty but brief squall ripped through the neighborhood and took down a pair of branches from the walnut tree across the street. As we were talking, I mentioned that I had been a data geek for a similar 527 organization a while back. I understood that this was an initial data canvas and not a mobilization nor a persuasion canvas. Neither my wife nor I need persuasion nor mobilization. We have not missed an election in ten years, and the latest either of us have voted is three hours and seventeen minutes after the polls opened (this year as I was working from home and had to get the kids to school and coffee in me before casting a ballot for Hillary Clinton).
Any resources devoted to either persuade or mobilize my wife or I are wasted resources. We’re going to vote, and we’re going to vote for the most plausibly electable liberal that we can whenever we can. And this is a problem that calls for a solution. We’re going to get hit up with at least four different liberal GOTV ground campaigns (Clinton, joint/coordinated Federal and State Dem victory campaign, an environmental organization and a union backed 527 that we just talked to). Each of these groups will call us, they will mail us, and they will door knock us. If we only answer ten canvassers at the door this fall, I will be surprised. All of that effort is wasted effort that should be deployed on either getting a sure liberal but unsure voter out to vote, or a sure voter but squishy persuasion target out to vote for Democrats.
Is there a solution where my wife and I can register with a data vendor to say that we are 100% sure of voting and we are non-persuadable in the general election cycle so send resources three doors down to the new couple that moved into the neighborhood from out of state and have just registered to vote for the first time? If that is a third party entity, then both the campaigns that are allowed to coordinate with candidates and independent entities can buy the same cleansing lists to clean and narrow their actual target universe.
Adam L Silverman
I got phone push polled in favor of the Democrats on Monday night.
As a psychologist, the main issue is the poor connection between intention and behavior. Even if you sign up for such a service, can you be trusted to follow through without day(s)-of-voting period GOTV where you affirm you have voted and, if willing, who you voted for?
Having worked on quite a few campaigns over the years, I too have wondered many times about whether there is a “better way.” While certainly there is some “we’ve always done it this way” attitude, I can also see that perhaps we aren’t too far off of optimal. I suspect the data tend to show that you get more out of making sure your partisans remember to vote (and vote early wherever possible) than chasing after undecided. I know I have definitely driven people listed as being ? to the polls who admitted afterwards they voted against my candidate. I could only smile and say something to the effect “Hey, that’s what democracy is all about.”
I can’t even imagine this. I live in a very red county in a very blue state, and we have never once been door knocked. We get some mailings for local things, but we are the wrong political persuasion for our county, so we don’t even get much of that. I did notice one of the mayoral candidates knocking on doors in my great-aunt’s senior community, but that was the exception to the rule. We’ll vote because we always do, but it would be nice for our state to feel more important.
@shomi: I agree. Don’t worry about wasting time. If they are talking to you, they are talking to your neighbors, who may not be as committed to voting. I’ve canvassed before, a simple “yes, I’m voting, Yes, it’s a Democrat. No, I’m not changing my mind” takes maybe a minute and then they are off to the next person. If the campaign is good you get marked off the list and that campaign won’t return to your house again. It would be nice if all the GOTV campaigns would co-ordinate, an someday they will share databases, but for now, you will just get canvassed by all of them. Once you have answered its over until the next (different) canvasser.
@shomi: back when I was a GOTV data geek we spent a lot if effort to exclude the sure things a D even the 90% things as a volunteer only had so many door knocks a day.
As far as auti-dialers and phone messages. Send to as many people as the money will allow
I get a constant barrage of emails with the hand out and I’m not currently in a position to be giving money away, even for good causes. I’ve offered to work but they always send me info on events for when I’m working or getting stuff done at the VA. I’ve responded to the emails, which it says I can do but I’ve seen no responses. I’ve informed them I have and am voting for Clinton but it has made no difference in the emails I get. I know that in 2008 when I worked for President Obama, they were entering names and phone numbers of positive calls into the database to try and keep the calls being effective rather than repetitive. However when calling I’d still call someone who had had 2-6 calls already. So to answer your question about better targeting, I’d bet no.
I’m of the opinion that you cannot effectively prove who’s going to be a “sure voter”. Turnout is so low in the US, I think people who nail all the demographic checkboxes will still miss elections every once in awhile.
I’ve been canvassing here in WI since June, every Saturday. I get a list of people who are known dem voters, I go to those addresses, in I find them at home I ask if they are planning to vote for Hillary, Russ Feingold, the other dems on the ballot here. Did it the same way in 2008 and 2012. I guess it gives the info that these people are committed to vote for dems. Have found a few “undecided” about Hillary and two (2) Trump voters.
Does it make sense? I’m not in a position to know, I just do what they tell me to.
Wish I had bought a fit-bit. Must have a few miles behind me by now.
We don’t get lots of party people visiting, but we do get actual candidates occasionally (our precinct has pretty high turn-out). I’m sure it is gratifying to the people doing the knocking to get a chance to talk with someone who is supportive. Keeping the volunteers motivated is vital, and if talking to someone just as committed as they are for a few minutes is the cost, then it’s a bargain.
If an I’m-sure-to-vote-liberal-Dem registry were to exist, some College Republican would be sure to dump the entire list of registered-Dem black and Hispanic-surname voters into it.
This ain’t beanbag, and the Rs are willing to cheat at any opportunity.
This is true but there is a pretty reliable percentage of the people who vote and will vote as they say they will. I’d hate to waste too many calls/door knocks on them. Same for those who say they will never vote for your candidate, under no circumstances will they vote x party. It’s a lost cause. Just like I was getting Sanders emails for a long time. I tied to unsubscribe several times after he had lost and got nowhere, just kept getting them, asking for money for something. I finally had to email them a few times with lines like YOU FUCKING LOST, YOU FUCKING LOSER,QUIT ASKING ME FOR MONEY and explanations of why I sent them for them to stop. And even then it took an “email help desk” person going back and forth 3 or 4 times. They have a live audience and they aren’t going to give that up. But there needs to be a better way.
I do enjoy thanking them and offering positivity when they come around, in case that helps.
But I’d love to know how to opt out, because phone calls and door knocks disturb my work, even if I don’t answer. Some days the interruption is stressful. Sometimes I ask them to remove me from their list, in hopes it can be done at the level where someone local is working off the previously generated list.
You can burn my house
Steal my car
Drink my liquor
From an old fruit jar
Do anything that you want to do
But uh-uh, honey
Lay off of my damned phone !
Geez, don’t ever give a political campaign or party your phone number, no matter how much you support them. They’ll never never NEVER never NEVER NEVER stop calling you during election season (often to ask for more money than you already gave them).
@cmorenc: Caller ID and an answering machine are vital now. You’ve gotten the “I’m calling to inform you that the IRS is suing you!!!” calls, too, haven’t you?
(Who never answers an unknown number.)
@cmorenc: I have a simple rule: No caller ID, I don’t pick up. Filters out almost all of the political calls.
Villago Delenda Est
To give you an idea of just how ridiculous this can get, 2 years ago I was working the phones at Democratic HQ and I contacted, via the random number generator dialer, one of our volunteers who had already voted by mail! This is a fairly primitive application of the technology available that wastes a lot of effort on persuading the already persuaded!
FWIW, I believe getting a person to say out loud to another individual that they are going to go and vote in a particular way has the effect of making that person feeling obligated to do so, even if circumstances make it more difficult to do so than they expected.
I suspect that the in the inefficiency you experience by receiving some 8 to 10 different canvassers of the sort is balanced by the 8 to 10 individuals who only make that verbal commitment to one or two of those canvassers.
Additionally, as a previous commenter pointed out, the psychological boost the canvasser receives from talking with you is of great value in enhancing their ability to bring over additional voters to the cause.
So, I think you have the right approach; be upbeat and encouraging of the canvasser’s efforts, and minimize the time they need to spend with you.
Unless, of course, they seem seriously discourage. Then the best thing for you all to do is be encouraging and try to revise their spirit and interest.
Villago Delenda Est
@joel hanes: The GOP is the party that has been ethics and scruples free since the time of Nixon.
You could always go low tech, and out up a sign saying “no political canvassers, please”.
But I agree with the above commenters that the occasional person answering the door and telling the canvasser, they’re already committed and maybe giving an attaboy doesn’t slow the canvasser down much and can energize them. I vividly remember a conversation with an enthused voter who needed no convincing, the weekend before election day on some dark residential street in New Hampshire.
@pat: What cities have you been in?
And “Rachael from Cardholder Services” as well. The really insidious problem with commercial fraud robo-calls is that they are now able to not only spoof the numbers they are purportedly calling from, but able to randomly generate target phone numbers (within legit area code ranges) to call with immense rapidity – which now means that even if you have *never* given out your cell phone number to anyone but a few close family and friends, they can generate so overwhelmingly many tries that they can generate annoyingly frequent hits on your cell phone, especially if you have your ringer on. Not a week goes by now that I don’t get two or three on my cell phone.
What’s even more galling is that some of the origin-spoofing algorithms will identify the calling number as the same as your own number they’re calling!
I got a phone call a few weeks back from someone from the Dem Senate fund (whatever it is). I was dialyzing at the time and told her it wasn’t a good time, so she goes “Oh, I know someone on dialysis. It’s just sitting around, so you can talk.” I may have told her to fuck off before hanging up…can’t recall. she called back again a while later (from an Unknown number) asking me to give her credit card info, even after I told her I’m not giving that info out to an Unknown recipient. She stubbornly kept taking through me, so I just hanged up the phone.
I can sympathize with them to a certain degree, but hard-selling me is a quick way to get motherfucked.
I kind of half-promised a nice young man from the Hillary campaign that I would caravan to Nevada to help canvass, so I should probably check my voicemail and see if they’re going to hold me to it.
Great idea about wasting resources. I am in a deep red state / county and we need every door knock not to be wasted. Hillary has opened an office in PHX. Not sure if resources will flow in or if it’s a head fake.
The answer to your question is basically no. There is a data base for my state (AZ) and and any Precinct Captain (PC) can run a query. That’s great, but most folks don’t know how to use the filters. In our database we can tell if someone is a vote by mail person (Permanent Early Voting List – PEVL) and if they voted in the last 3 generals and primaries. There is a shit-tonne of other data too, but you have to ask the database the right questions. They could exclude all Dems who voted in the last 3 primaries and generals and query only for those who voted in one or two. It depends on who is at the keyboard and to be honest, what I have seen is messy shotgun overkill instead of fine tuned targeting.
They also have info on your “lean” position. Are you a rock solid (#10) contributing to every candidate in the Dem party or are you a independent who leans Dem (#3?).
I have read that the Dems nationwide have ONLY 50% of their Precinct Captains positions filled. In my neighborhood, we are one fifth Democratic and only have 25% of our PC positions are filled. My precinct has 3 spots and all 3 are filled. It took 5 registered Dems signatures to get me on the ballot as a PC and I was appointed to the empty spot by the County Party. We have “orphan precincts” we need to cover. Every knock / call to a solid #10 is a waste.
I just became a Precinct Captain and as very minor league data geek I’m interested in becoming a full database junkie post election, but GOTV and registration with occassion B-Juicing are my priorities for now. I asked guys “who know” for a data set of my Dad’s 400 occupant Independent living complex. Just so I can do phone “meet and greets”. It was over 110 here today so door knocking is impossible.
As far as e-mails, it is a commodity that is bought and sold. If you have donated to a campaign, they will likely, sell that data in the future to pay for their own expenses. I’ve been to 3 Daily Kos events called Netroots Nation and every booth you swipe gets your e-mail. You know this ahead of time. It is not a surprise. Advice is to use a second e-mail addy.
La Crosse and Onalaska. Onalaska was disappointing, lots of younger people who were really clueless, and a young man on the lawn of the neighbor whom I was trying to contact (he wasn’t home) who told me that Obama is a muslim and bringing in thousands of Syrian immigrants. Or something…..
eta: Useless it may be, but I connect with a significant number of people who agree that this is the most important election in our lifetimes and Trump must be defeated.
Mine not to question why……
When I volunteered for the Obama campaign in 08 and 2012, the GOTV efforts and voter registration were organized with other groups. Even though I volunteered for the Obama campaign, I worked side by side with union groups and other GOTV groups. Why shouldn’t the Clinton-Kaine campaign do similar coordination. I actually thought the most impressive campaign was in Ohio 2012. I’ve met the coolest and the most hardworking Union groups there. It was an amazing experience.
@pat: That is a section of the state that I don’t know all that well. LaCrosse tends to trend Dem., but that’s about all I know. Thanks for the help.
Lazy folks work off a paper list they printed last year. Since positions as low as a Precinct Captain (overlord of. . . say 50 voters) can generate one, opting out is useless.
It doesn’t matter if you give any campaign your phone number. I’m pretty, pretty sure they are assembled using all data resources publically available. A quick review of two data sets just now revealed 95% plus had phone numbers. I doubt that many people would give out their number.
“Welcome to the machine”.
I knocked on doors like yours in 2012 in a rural township that had probably never seen a canvasser before. OFA did an amazing job, but it was likely because PA was a battleground and they poured resources in.
@Mnemosyne: I have been trying to decide whether commit to NV or AZ. I don’t think NV will be as close as the polls suggest for Pres but Masto may still need help (helping Reid in 2010 gives me some personal investment). And yet seeing AZ go blue would be very nice, especially if McCain’s seat ends up flipped.
@Prescott Cactus: We think we get significantly more calls to donate since we started donating (a bit starting in 2008, more $ each year). But that’s probably just due to technology change and perceptions caused by something other than an actual count …
@cthulhu: Obama in 2008 had an office in Arizona, but they never went door to door here. If you were committed enough they sent you to Las Cruses, NM. We had a caravan / carpools of about 30 people do two weekends.
One of the nice things was they were awash in campaign swag. Signs, stickers, buttons and t-shirts. In AZ you could not get an Obama pencil. Axelrod and Plouffe targeted well. They won NM’s 5 Electoral votes by 15% and Grampa McCain lived next door.
@Aleta: In AZ we have a Clean Election Law. Get 600 (?) contributions of $5 and a candidate for state House of Rep’s gets $16,000 for primary and $24,000 for the general.
If you donate you have to give name and address and also a signature. It’s in a database that can be looked at. Another PC asked me why my wife hadn’t turned in a $5 for our state senate candidate. . .
So far, they only mentioned NV. My parents used to winter in AZ, so I’m a little more familiar with the lay of the land there, but find their gun nuts quite a bit scarier. Hard to say.
@Prescott Cactus: So what is the feeling on the ground in AZ this time around? NV and AZ are similar in that the Dems need to run up the totals in the major metro areas to win statewide. That offers some efficiencies but will this be the year when AZ flips? (Long term trends suggest AZ will ultimately trend at least bluish)
@Mnemosyne: You could probably find more factual stats and opinions on the intertubes, but word around the campfire is Ann Kirkpatrick is fighting hard and feels she has a good shot.
As with any adventure, try and make sure you know where you will be going ahead of time. More than thrice I experienced a pit bull going full speed into a thankfully locked screen door. It is not for everyone. I realized it wasn’t for me after the first one. Catch your breath, shake it off and take some baby steps. We were given specific information and even warned to skip houses that looked like they had dogs.
They also won’t send you to Republicans homes.
My parents lived in Fountain Hills, so that probably gives you an idea of what I’m used to: nice on the outside, bugfuck insane on the inside.
@Cthulhu: The proof will be in the pudding. If you get sent here, they are looking to win here. If you get sent to NV they may not send anyone to AZ.
Hispanic voter %’s are widely favoring Hillary in AZ. Trump has energized them, against himself. Sheriff Joe Arpaio has a credible opponent and he will really bring on the Hispanic vote to go against him. I’m more optimistic than I believe I would ever be that this could be the year.
We are suggesting to local canidates to put “Vote Full Democratic Ticket” on their signage with the hope that upper ticket strength will trickle down if Trump implodes and McCain falters.
I spent a few days in Utah for heat relief and the vibe was different. Didn’t see any Trump signs and even a few old ladies with Hilary buttons.
Sorry, I’m going to keep knocking on your door until I see you at the monthly LD meeting.
I did phone calling for the No vote on the anti-marriage amendment here in MN several years ago. We would dutifully fill out our clipboards with our calls and the scores of the people we talked to. I think the MN United campaign was pretty good about data entry.
But the NGP Van (Voter Activation Network) spit out lists of folks who I’d call and hear “I got a call. Well, three calls really. In the past 36 hours! I WILL GO VOTE. Please don’t call any more.”
Something isn’t right in the modeling, I am guessing.
@Mnemosyne: BIL moved there. Solid Dem but changed registration to Indy after a few talks with neighbors. Small biz owner, so they assumed he was Rethug Red. Heard nothing but Dem slams and shut his mouth. He realized he would be friendless and demonized there. Foaming at the mouth Republican in FH.
Yep. My dad was a fairly normal Rockefeller Republican before he retired, but between Fox News and Fountain Hills, he and my mom both got pretty wacky over the years. Now he’s gone (since 2013) and she’s moved in with one of my other brothers in IL.
@RaflW: Too many chefs and too many cooks. Every cause and entity calls their own shots.
AZ doesn’t have an overlap of action, we are struggling to tread water. We have only one in four PC spots filled for 29,000 Dems. That’s not counting 60,000 Indys we would LOVE to reach out to. . .
@Mnemosyne: Sorry to hear of Dads passing and hope Mom is doing well. Sheriff “Prisioners in Pink Undies” Arpaio lives there and it’s like having too much lead in the water, it seems to have become a crazy outpost.
From Nate Silver’s 538
Arizona (ETA: Chance of winning)
You all come out now, ya hear !
I always enjoyed meeting solid D’s when I was canvassing, even if I was technically “wasting my time” on them. You persuade better when you’re in a good mood, and meeting up with someone who thinks the way you do is a great mood booster. I doubt that the person who knocked on your door felt like their time was wasted.
@Prescott Cactus: Thanks for all the helpful information and answers.
And thanks to all the incredible campaign workers out on the street and in unseen places.
Iowa Old Lady
The only solution I’ve found is to vote as early as I can. Then the Democrats check me off their list. Oddly, given my registered D status, the Rs still phone.
My guess is that it takes too much manpower to notate the databases with “called already, don’t call again” and the like, and to run the relevant queries. Or the campaigns think it does. I think they’re going to have to bite the bullet and find ways to be more efficient, and less annoying, about contacting voters or they’re going to drive down turnout eventually. Once someone has success with it, a glorious new day will dawn and everything will be great from then on!!1 ;-)
Seriously, ActBlue’s web site is pretty good, but they still try to get me to give monthly by default. They still try to get me to save my CC info on their server. They still try to demand that I create an account with them. That gets annoying too. And don’t get me started on candidates that spam me every day screaming about doom and gloom if they don’t make their quarterly / monthly / daily / hourly fundraising numbers, or who put their Unsubscribe links in a 3 point font at the bottom of their messages, or who feel free to write to me every day asking for money, but are too special to put their actual candidate’s name in the “From” field, or who want my money and time to volunteer for them but refuse to accept comments from me other than in a bogus “survey”.
“Hey, I’m trying to help a little. I’m not trying to be your banker or your new “best friend”. How about treating me with a bit more respect, eh?” :-/
Hate the continual phone calls? If you vote early, it stops the calls. Most cmpaign orgs, and some union or outside groups, check the updated voter lists daily and wipe the households off the call / knock lists once they’re known to have voted. Obama and state-level candidates were doing this by 2008 — not sure why every org wouldn’t be doing it now. But it definitely reduces the number of calls. So VOTE EARLY, save yourself and the campaigns a lot of trouble, and keep clear the polls for those who wait til the last minute!
It’s a win-win-win-win scenario. The last WIN being the literal one.
@RaflW: Many campaigns are going to real-time data entry. When I called from home for Obama using a website in 2008, I was entering “already voted” and other voter data in real time into their lists database.
@pat: you’re laying the key informational groundwork for later turnout efforts. As soon as early voting starts, or before, the campaigns will be ON these favorable households again and again to turn out their favorable votes. And then they won’t quit calling and knocking until the remaining ones are on the county rolls as having voted.
I’ve canvassed when our lists were down to only two households remaining unvoted in an entire dense multi-block neighborhood. And they were like “we know, we’re sorry, we just haven’t gotten around to it yet …” This is where the margins are made, by IDing those folks so resources can be shepherded early and then pinpointed down to the very last stragglers.
So, well done, you!
Not a waste, if you ask those rock-solids if they will volunteer to help you reach the orphan precincts!
Thanks for the info. If someone thinks it will help, I’ll continue to do it every Saturday. I’ve started doing two lists a day. Lucky to find 1/3 of them at home on a summer Saturday, but as I do get some nice folks to talk to and rant about Trump.
And I’ve had several dogs lunging at the front door. Tells me the doorbell works. And if no one comes to the door after that ruckus, I can mark them Not Home and move on.
@cokane: Voting records are public so, while it is strictly true that you can’t be 100% sure someone will vote, you can be 100% sure of their recent record….and voting is a habit so that’s why the concept of prime voters exists.
@I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet: That is VERY true. I’ve been a candidate and it really sustains you every time you get a positive reaction while doing hours and days of knocking.
J R in WV
I kicked in to Ann Kirkpatrick too, I’m fond of Dem Senators, and started by giving to people on Emily’s List. Tammy Duckworth, too. Russ Feingold too.
I kind of want to help Ohio, but Ted Strickland may be a lost cause…
No. If such a thing existed, people who might not actually vote without harassment who don’t want to be harassed would use it as a de facto “do not call” list. Word would go out over social media within days as some Very Clever Person proudly shared his/her discovery of a “One Simple Hack to Make Canvassers Stop Bothering You.” Within two weeks, it would be in the clickbait links.
I would think that putting up a yard sign would demote you in importance significantly for any GOTV effort.