By Laura Haight
How are you spending these sweltering weekends? At the pool, at home with a big pitcher of sweet tea? Sounds great. But for “the squad” (our nickname for those who have volunteered to be part of our candidate support efforts), it’s been canvassing and phone banking to help reach voters and get them firmly on the Dorothy Dowe and Michelle Shain trains.
As everyone who’s ever participated in these campaign activities knows, you talk to a small percentage of people. Mostly we’ve been leaving voicemail messages and dropping literature.
For those who might like to help but are wary about blatantly political activity, here are a few facts.
Full Disclosure: I am not an experienced canvasser nor particularly comfortable doing it. But I felt as if I needed to pitch in, so I convinced Squad Leader Evelyn Nocella to let me be her “wing woman”.
An app called MiniVan replaces the printed walk sheets we used to use. It connects to Vote Builder–the Democratic Party database to track interactions with and maintain information about voters. These make canvassing easier to manage. You can see a map of all the stops on a street, as well as information about the voters who live at each address. But most helpful is that you can plan where to park the car to save steps.
My concerns about meeting angry MAGA-influenced Republicans disappeared when I realized that people who don’t agree generally don’t answer the door. Both campaigns rely heavily on the votes of independents and Republicans, so both are minimizing partisanship.
Some people really do want to talk about the issues. And this has been the best part for me. A gentleman in Nicholtown offered us chairs on his front porch and talked to us for 15 minutes about how his home town has changed—and in his view, not for the better. Further down the same street, Evelyn and I got to meet Sarah Reese, a Grammy-award winning opera singer who performed for years with the New York Metropolitan Opera. We had a great conversation with her and walked away Googling her performances for future playback!
Perhaps 20-30 percent of the people on the list actually open their door. We generally found those ranging on the spectrum from interested in the candidates to enthusiastically supporting them. Some 70-80 percent are either not home or just not answering. We drop off the literature.
It’s a good idea in this heat to take short breaks in the car (with the AC on!) to cool down. Bring a cooler along with some ice and chilling bottles of water or a sports drink, because you can’t drink too much water.
My canvassing experience has made me want to do more. But I don’t want to go it alone—and wouldn’t really recommend that even though many people do. It’s a lot more fun with a friend. So get a buddy engaged and get involved. You are making a difference.
We will be canvassing for Michele from 10 am to noon until Election Day. The first phase of knocking on doors for Dorothy took place in July. More dates are coming for August and September so stay tuned for those announcements.
Phone banking is much more in my wheelhouse and I imagine it is for a lot of you as well. Phone banking can be done remotely, but I’d encourage you to come in person if you can. There is more of a sense of camaraderie when you do these things together. It’s also easier to stay on track and focused. There’s a dialing script to follow, and we have some other talking points to help you answer specific questions or add more information to your pitch.
In a two-hour shift, phone bankers can make about 50-60 calls. The vast majority of people do not answer, but in our calls for the Dowe campaign we have been leaving voicemails, which give you a chance to impact the voter. One voter at a time. One voter whose mind you change or whom you can move from a maybe to a yes. It makes a difference with the people you call, as well as their families and social networks.
We’ll be adding more dates and times to each of the signup sheets we’ve listed as soon as the campaigns have them. So if you follow these links and don’t see anything coming up, email me or check back in a day or so. New times and new events will be added.
Our squad of volunteers has been doing an amazing job, and we welcome more Dem Women to join us. Bring a friend and be someone’s wingwoman!
Thanks to all the volunteers who phone banked or canvassed for Dorothy Dowe and/or Michelle Shain in July. You all rock!
Brooke Alaniz, Tina Belge, Mary Biebel, Tom Clarke, Linda Combs, Linda Derector, Jacqui Desmangles, Shelly Dezen, Bailey Dowe, Deborah Drucker, Leslie Fatum, Nancy Fitzer, Deb Grove, Laura Haight, Kathryn Harvey, Valerie Hollinger, Grace Kisner, Heather Lawson, Jean LePere, D’Etta Leach, Laura Lowery, John MacCarthy, Lesley Moore, Evelyn Nocella, Hugh Owens, Stephanie Pavik, Rylie Shaw, Jeanne Snyder, Lee Turner, Jill Vales, Janet Lomicka.