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 Canvassing

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PostSubject: Canvassing   Wed Apr 30, 2008 4:55 pm

Afternoon everyone Smile

As the local elections draw near, a lot of the parties (especially the smaller parties) are starting to have meetings with local organisations to talk about canvassing in their areas. I'm writing a short paper on the evolution of canvassing techniques at the moment and I would like to hear posters thoughts.

Canvassing has moved on from just knocking door to door and asking for a vote. Increasingly, canvassing is about building up a database of local knowledge for councillors and TDs. Canvassers are encouraged to ask a few polite questions in an effort to 'pigeon-hole' or categorise a particular individual or household.

It is a highly imperfect science but with each campaign and round of canvassing, layers of useful qualitative information can be gathered. In turn, this information can be used to make canvassing more efficient and more useful in terms of representations.

Do posters here have any observations about the way in which different candidates and parties canvassed them in 2007?

Is there a different approach depending on the parties?

Do candidates still just ask for the number one or the number two or is there more of an effort to ask 'leading questions'?

Also if any poster is aware of any academic literature on this subject I would love to hear from them.
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PostSubject: Re: Canvassing   Wed Apr 30, 2008 4:57 pm

I have never been canvassed as I have an obscure front door. I suspect that people with dogs are also rarely canvassed.

Good luck with the paper.
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PostSubject: Re: Canvassing   Wed Apr 30, 2008 5:00 pm

I noticed the Greens tended to come round in teams to each door rather than individual. That is all.
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PostSubject: Re: Canvassing   Wed Apr 30, 2008 5:03 pm

unaligned wrote:
Afternoon everyone Smile

As the local elections draw near, a lot of the parties (especially the smaller parties) are starting to have meetings with local organisations to talk about canvassing in their areas. I'm writing a short paper on the evolution of canvassing techniques at the moment and I would like to hear posters thoughts.

Canvassing has moved on from just knocking door to door and asking for a vote. Increasingly, canvassing is about building up a database of local knowledge for councillors and TDs. Canvassers are encouraged to ask a few polite questions in an effort to 'pigeon-hole' or categorise a particular individual or household.

It is a highly imperfect science but with each campaign and round of canvassing, layers of useful qualitative information can be gathered. In turn, this information can be used to make canvassing more efficient and more useful in terms of representations.

Do posters here have any observations about the way in which different candidates and parties canvassed them in 2007?

Is there a different approach depending on the parties?

Do candidates still just ask for the number one or the number two or is there more of an effort to ask 'leading questions'?

Also if any poster is aware of any academic literature on this subject I would love to hear from them.

For the most part, canvassing will be about allowing the voter to meet the candidate. I'm unconvinced of the merits of third-party canvassing. Its better than nothing, I suppose, but putting the candidate on the doorstep is critical.
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PostSubject: Re: Canvassing   Wed Apr 30, 2008 5:05 pm

seinfeld wrote:
...putting the candidate on the doorstep is critical.

It's true. However, I didn't particularly appreciate when I opened my front door to Aengus O'Snodaigh at 10 on a Saturday Morning.
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PostSubject: Re: Canvassing   Wed Apr 30, 2008 6:03 pm

One thing you should note about canvassing is that the primary objective is to meet people who are pre-disposed to voting for you in the first place. It is easier to keep a voter than to gain a voter. The skilled politician won't waste time talking to somebody who is unlikely to vote for them.
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PostSubject: Canvassing   Thu May 01, 2008 1:05 am

There are a few basic do's and don'ts about canvassing.

Know the basics about your party's manifesto and the candidate or candidates. Go in sufficent numbers to cover your local area and be systematic. Cover all your local area and give your organisation sufficent time to do that. Your canvassers don't have to know everything but always ensure that if they cannot answer questions then they can refer to someone who can.

Firstly, where possible, don't go alone. There is nothing the committed supporter or member of another party likes better than to either make the inexperienced canvasser twist in the wind about obscure points of party manifestos. If it is clear that someone is deliberately wasting your time leave contact details for the candidate, some literature and move on politely. This happens much more often than the novice canvasser thinks.

Secondly, under no circumstances go beyond the front door of someone's house.

Thirdly, if the person at the door is rude to you say goodbye politely and go. If someone is attempting to provoke you into an angry response don't react.

Fourthly, under no circumstances make things up as you go along. If you don't know, admit that you don't and refer to someone who does know. If your questioner is genuine they will be happy to get further information from a more knowledgeable person and if they have a problem that needs solving then it is vital that the candidate or local representative makes contact with them.

Fifthly, each canvasser should record everything and time should be taken at the end of the night to collate the information and record it accurately.

Sixthly, your window of opportunity to canvass is quite narrow. 7.30pm to 9.00pm in the suburbs Monday to Friday and from 11.30am to 6.00pm on Saturday. No point in annoying people attempting to put kids to bed.
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PostSubject: Re: Canvassing   Thu May 01, 2008 1:09 am

That is an excellent bible for anyone knocking door, Ronald, not only for canvassers but also for people selling encyclopaedia's, collecting census data or seeking religious converts. You should bottle it and sell it.

I think there is another reason for working in pairs, which I call the "you and who else" factor. For some reason, the credibility of a canvassing team of two is many times higher than that of a solitary canvasser.
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PostSubject: Re: Canvassing   Thu May 01, 2008 1:12 am

Dead right. The only time activists should work on their own is for doing leaflet drops. Two is credible, three is overkill, one looks amateurish.
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PostSubject: Re: Canvassing   Thu May 01, 2008 1:15 am

Ronald Binge wrote:
Dead right. The only time activists should work on their own is for doing leaflet drops. Two is credible, three is overkill, one looks amateurish.

Worst canvass I ever experienced was from a Green party candidate who came into our office with a very large and muddy dog who walked over our work. The candidate then tried to sell us a patent plastic composter (sorry to those of you who have heard me giving out about this before).
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PostSubject: Re: Canvassing   Thu May 01, 2008 1:22 am

cactus flower wrote:
Ronald Binge wrote:
Dead right. The only time activists should work on their own is for doing leaflet drops. Two is credible, three is overkill, one looks amateurish.

Worst canvass I ever experienced was from a Green party candidate who came into our office with a very large and muddy dog who walked over our work. The candidate then tried to sell us a patent plastic composter (sorry to those of you who have heard me giving out about this before).

That sounds like quite an experience!
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PostSubject: Re: Canvassing   Thu May 01, 2008 1:48 am

It's a horrible gig, canvassing. I last was out last year for my independent candidate who retained his seat. But even with high name recognition, and huge teams (that would have put the numbers from my Workers' Party/DL days where we were out for Pat McCartan to shame) we still did an individual canvass with teams strung out along a road. The candidate would be called hither and yon to doors as people caught sight of him behind us. There's just something uniquely unpleasant about intruding into the private space, although people were almost uniformly courteous. You just don't know what is behind the door as it opens. And part of the process is simply to appear to demonstrate interest which means that an individual is as good as two... Otherwise I'd agree pretty much with Ronalds points...
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PostSubject: Re: Canvassing   Thu May 01, 2008 1:57 am

I was canvassed last year by two people I know - one of whom I've known for many years - in an attempt to get me to vote for a particular party and candidate that I have no time for.

Not wanting to waster their time, I told them that there was no way I'd be voting for him, they wouldn't change my mind and that they should go elsewhere. Did they?

Half an hour later they were still there (on the doorstep, you'll be glad to hear Ronald!) trying to change my mind - despite being told that if he was the only candidate in the whole of my constituency, I'd spoil my vote.

Canvassing in pairs makes a lot of sense - though I always feel as though I'm being hounded by Jehovah's Witnesses when they arrive a deux.

I was only canvassed by that team last year - one other party called and left a note and none of the smaller parties came knocking. We live in the country (without an interesting obscure front door - that fascinates me, cf) but I would have expected to get more visitors. As for seeing a candidate? Funerals are the place to meet them if you live outside the speed limit. Otherwise us culchies can forget it. They never doorstep.

It must be the last job God made.
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PostSubject: Re: Canvassing   Thu May 01, 2008 2:12 am

Why do you say never go past the front door. If you were invited in for a glass of water or orange would you not enter. Also why not canvass now and ask about peoples concerns and at least pretend you have their interests foremost.
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PostSubject: Re: Canvassing   Thu May 01, 2008 9:48 am

Two reasons: your time is extremely limited and you are invading their
personal space by going in. In addition, it is an old trick by
political opponents to delay canvassers by being hospitable. Sad
but true.

Canvassing happens outside elections as well - there are always local
issues and we were out here in 2005 and 2006 and will be out again
before the end of this year.
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PostSubject: Re: Canvassing   Thu May 01, 2008 9:58 am

Should canvassers not be making loads of time for their constituents and having tea en masse with them instead of lightening breathless whirlwind "don't forget to give us the number one" visits? Some party will do this in the future - have tea with people for years beforehand and that will be the ruination of ye - the ruination of ye goddammit!

* shakes stick then hobbles off to visit rockofcashel for tea and marietta biscuits *
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PostSubject: Re: Canvassing   Thu May 01, 2008 11:53 am

I'd never go into a house. Too dodge.

Never been invited in though Sad

To follow on from Auditor 9's comment, last year on a nice leafy suburban street I went to a door and was answered by a pleasant middle class guy in his late 30s. He complained that although he'd voted for the candidate I was canvassing for he wouldn't again because he hadn't see the candidate since he was elected five years previously. So, I pointed out that the candidate actually did go around door to door, that he had numerous leaflet drops (I should know, I'd been involved in same) across each year, and asked had he seen them? He said he hadn't, which I didn't believe but saw no point in making an issue of... I asked had he been to any of the residents meetings in the area at which the candidate was a continual attender. He hadn't. Then he sort of smiled and said it didn't matter since he was moving out of the constituency and would have a vote elsewhere. On one level, complete timewasting. But indicative of the necessity for personal contact even in this supposedly digital age. What is the solution? That the candidate in person visit every house in the evening at least once a year. Is that even possible when there are so many other meetings to be at? I don't think it is, but this is how the sense of dislocation and disconnect from contemporary politics opens up...
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PostSubject: Re: Canvassing   Thu May 01, 2008 12:17 pm

WorldbyStorm confirms my belief that leaflets are invisible. People view them as a form of interior litter and they go in the bin without being looked at. Ten doors knocked is better than 1,000 leaflets delivered.

Local radio is a tremendously good way of getting people to listen to information in their home. It is underused by local political parties. In Spain they have local TV stations that are very good for local democracy.
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PostSubject: Re: Canvassing   Thu May 01, 2008 6:30 pm

As it happens I've had over the years an academic interest in some leaflets so don't say that Smile. And yes, I'd agree that knocking on doors is best. But... it's all the elements combined... no personal appearances, no leaflets, no meetings, no elected!
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PostSubject: Re: Canvassing   Thu May 01, 2008 6:40 pm

Quote :
Local radio is a tremendously good way of getting people to listen to information in their home. It is underused by local political parties. In Spain they have local TV stations that are very good for local democracy.

Local radio stations have to be very careful not to be hijacked by political parties, tds and councillors who have a word to say on every thing that happens. I imagine that the most popular person at the local council meeting is the person at the back holding the mike...

I imagine that there is a focus on avoiding the readily available party political broadcast and spending more time with local voluntary organisations and giving them a chance to have their say.
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PostSubject: Re: Canvassing   Thu May 01, 2008 6:48 pm

Kate P wrote:
Quote :
Local radio is a tremendously good way of getting people to listen to information in their home. It is underused by local political parties. In Spain they have local TV stations that are very good for local democracy.

Local radio stations have to be very careful not to be hijacked by political parties, tds and councillors who have a word to say on every thing that happens. I imagine that the most popular person at the local council meeting is the person at the back holding the mike...

I imagine that there is a focus on avoiding the readily available party political broadcast and spending more time with local voluntary organisations and giving them a chance to have their say.

Our local radio station is good at doing both. I suppose they have so much time to fill. The more that what local government is actually doing is brought out into the open the better. The Local Press tend to be wary of being open about local government mess ups as they get so much advertising revenue from them - way the biggest single clients in most cases. This is very unhealthy and I know for a fact influences editors. Local radio tends to be far more independent and challenging, and has the door open to all the local groups and one-off activists as well.

Once, I can't remember quite why, I was given the run of the station with a friend for an hour at night on air and we played all our favourites tunes from the excellent sound archive. Cracking good fun.

If local authority meetings were recorded and broadcast it would be so deeply embarrassing for the participants that they might pull their socks up.
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PostSubject: Re: Canvassing   Fri May 02, 2008 1:56 am

WorldbyStorm wrote:
As it happens I've had over the years an academic interest in some leaflets so don't say that Smile. And yes, I'd agree that knocking on doors is best. But... it's all the elements combined... no personal appearances, no leaflets, no meetings, no elected!

My view may have been slightly tainted by getting my fingers jammed in a low letterbox whilst the a corgi chewed at my leaflet and finger tips. Rolling Eyes
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PostSubject: Re: Canvassing   Fri May 02, 2008 8:13 pm

cactus flower wrote:
WorldbyStorm wrote:
As it happens I've had over the years an academic interest in some leaflets so don't say that Smile. And yes, I'd agree that knocking on doors is best. But... it's all the elements combined... no personal appearances, no leaflets, no meetings, no elected!

My view may have been slightly tainted by getting my fingers jammed in a low letterbox whilst the a corgi chewed at my leaflet and finger tips. Rolling Eyes

Can I ask for who or what campaign?
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PostSubject: Re: Canvassing   Fri May 02, 2008 8:15 pm

It was a jumble sale in aid of Oxfam, and I was 9.
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PostSubject: Re: Canvassing   Sat May 03, 2008 6:29 pm

cactus flower wrote:
It was a jumble sale in aid of Oxfam, and I was 9.

Hmmm... I had a similar experience about that age for some worthy cause or another. A black dog cornered me in a garden. I had a fear of dogs for decades after it...
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