Let's start with some canvassing logistics, for first timers -
1. Canvassing is visiting would-be voters, door-to-door, to talk about your candidate/measure/etc.
2. You're typically given a paper -
3. The paper will typically contain names, address, codes.
Don't be afraid to add random notes for follow-up, especially if you work smaller campaigns. I used to scribble things like, "Is concerned about roads!" so the candidate could call on that issue.
At the risk of campaign managers everywhere giving me dirty looks, remember: it's okay if you don't fully make that number, especially if you end up having solid conversations.
Most conversations *won't* take that long anyway.
It helps the flow of conversation, and you won't feel like you have to hit every point on the script.
Also: you'll be given walk pieces (or campaign materials) to leave w/ the voter or at the door.
6. Try and go with a partner. Most precincts are divided into odds and even # houses, so your partner can cover one side of the street, and you get the other.
This isn't always possible given the # of volunteers a campaign might have, but it's ideal.
The buddy system also reassures the campaign that you're not on you're own if anything happens to you.
I texted my canvassing partner, who showed up and called 911, while I tried to help the woman. Partners are great. AND she ended up being fine.
Small things - e.g. noticing whether they have a dog leash outside, or kids toys - can help you gauge whoever is about to open the door AND campaign issues you might want to bring up.
Also, noticing whether they have kids/pets can help remind you to do things like making sure the gates are latched, before you enter and leave. Nothing irritates a would-be voter -
The person wasn't home, and that canvasser ended up having to chase the dog down a few blocks, to bring the dog back.
It might feel natural to hesitate and stand a few steps away, but if you're standing on the stoop and the voter has to strain or step outside to talk to you, it just makes the conversation more awkward.
The voter will (typically) instinctively feel like they have to take your hand and shake it, and that can act as a good ice breaker.
I once had a voter stare at me, and then slooooowly do a thumbs down, complete with a whooshing noise, before saying: "Your boss is a loser" and brushing his hands.
(Truthfully, I still think about that guy and laugh.)
Most voters, particularly some older ones, aren't on Twitter, getting the type of instant news updates we are. They get their information from neighbors, from friends, from work, etc.
If they say they have to think about it, this is (most likely) a good thing. They might just be saying -
11. If they're not home, you'll likely be instructed to leave your walk materials. DO NOT LEAVE THEM IN THE MAILBOX. Not every campaign tells new volunteers, but -
(Yes - this is a thing. Campaigns will file FEC complaints against each other)
If you're working a more local campaign, you might be instructed to scribble a note from the candidate. In general, you can just scribble something like, "don't forget to vote on Tuesday!"
Things like that stick in their minds when voting.
Every introduction is another potential vote, or someone who knows a potential vote.
Often times, canvassers are sent out when people are at work, running errands, at worship - etc. The fact you've made the effort (see #12) will still have an impact.