I’ve knocked on a lot of doors for the Elizabeth Warren campaign and the coordinated campaign. I love talking to voters and being out doors and getting some exercise. But equally important to knocking on doors is recruiting other people.
As we kicked off “knOcktober” the E. Warren campaign reports that 2,343 volunteers hit 68,936 doors. As much as I love being an individual contributor, I also know that multiplying yourself is huge. So here’s a quick diary of my efforts over the past week relative to recruiting people to know on doors. I’m going to go Monday to Monday since we’re throwing in the long weekend and the Monday holiday.
Monday: Lowell Debate Day. I had connected with a new volunteer. The first time he had available was Monday. Since I was committed in the afternoon and evening, I said let’s canvass from 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM on Monday. We canvassed a housing complex with a lot of senior citizens. I thought that my new volunteer had a lot of promise and some availability. He’s now interning with the campaign. I had a meeting in Cambridge in the early afternoon and had promised to be in Lowell for the viz and the debate. Monday was a self service canvass. You work with what you got and what I got is my breezeway and some great self-reliant volunteers. I handled their questions as I drove to Lowell. Monday tally: 5 shifts 95 volunteers.
Tuesday: No doors – just phone calls and working my day job.
Wednesday: I spent most of the day at the EW office in Somerville. I had planned to canvass in a neighboring community driving straight there from Somerville to begin canvassing at 4 PM. I had two people doing the “self service” canvass. A friend called and said he could join me. That was great. Problem: I only had enough literature for me. Meanwhile another friend calls trying to find information about a presidential debate watch party. I tell him that I am in a bind. Could he come join us and bring lit? YES! We make it all work out and we have my dear friend join us for the tail end of the canvass. It all adds up. Wednesday tally: 5 shifts 103 doors.
Thursday: I spent the day on my day job, working until about 6:30 PM. Since I have an event with my congressman and my state Senator on Sunday, I’d been saving the turf near my home until nearer the event. I knock mostly on the targeted doors. I do stop to introduce myself to a new volunteer in my neighborhood and to welcome a new neighbor. She agrees to stop by the event on Sunday and fill out a voter registration form. Thursday tally: 1 shift; 20 doors.
Friday: On Friday we do something that I call “Friday, Doors and Drinks.” We meet at 4 PM to canvass and then meet for refreshments at a local restaurant. A phone fail causes some problems, but we adapt and accommodate. Some folks can’t be there right at 4 PM, but we make it work and we have fun! People come from a broad area since there are not a lot of Friday evening canvasses. Friday total: 7 shifts 108 doors.
Saturday: It’s been a challenge recruiting people for a long weekend. People who are around have signed up for Sunday. I begin the day with no volunteers except for me. My cell phone isn’t working so it’s a challenge to call people. I make a few calls and I finally reach someone who I cajole into joining me. My pitch, “You don’t want the campaign to think that I lost my fastball.” And then there is some confusion about the staging site of a nearby canvass. I get a call and direct the other volunteer to join me. She is knew and wants to watch me. My other volunteer can only stay a short time. I work two shifts to make up for my less than stellar recruiting. Saturday total: 4 shifts, 91 doors.
Sunday: In addition to my day job, I am hosting the aforementioned fundraiser. I’ve recruited several people to canvass before the event and then join us at the event. At the event I outline our schedule and encourage people to sign up for events. I fail to mention post-party canvassing. One of my guests asks, facetiously.about canvassing after the event. My response is that I absolutely plan to canvass after my guests leave. Although for some reason I can’t get anyone to join me, I go out and knock on some doors. Sunday total: 7 shifts 113 doors.
Monday: Senator Jeanne Shaheen is coming to Framingham, so I adjust my schedule to deploy a canvass from my home that ends at the Senator’s event and another one that begins at the event. In the AM I talk to someone who tells me that she just doesn’t think she can canvass. I’ve given up trying to explain how when you actually talk to voters, it is not at all what people envision. I go straight for the ask of just join me today. Shadow me and get an idea of what it is like. We have three in the AM shift, five for afternoon shift. When the afternoon shift is done, I decide to go back and finish my morning turf. It’s really my first “after dark” canvass of the fall season. Monday: 9 shifts: 173 doors.
How do you get other people to do something that is very alien to them? You build relationships; you try to match a volunteer to ac activity that interests him or her and helps the campaign meet their goals. It’s about education and being flexible and appreciative. As I reviewed the week, I counted four first timers. All had good experiences. Two of them have already done a second shift. One has schedule conflicts but felt she’d be comfortable, but most likely not this cycle. One person helped today and had a good experience and is ready to go again.
Want to talk with other organizers and share ideas? Come to the DFA Canvass for E. Warren that is co-sponsored by BMG. It is in Medford on October 13 at 11 AM. Are you new to organizing and want to spend some time with people who have been organizing political volunteers for years? Learn more and RSVP here. I’ll be sending out more information on this special event.