Canvassing: Getting Started

If you've never canvassed before, it can feel a little intimidating. But it's also the best way to reach voters. And ultimately, turning out voters is the key to winning elections.

Whether we can flip enough districts in 2018 will depend primarily on whether enough Democrats vote in off-year elections (they usually don't). The most effective way to get voters to the polls is to make contact with them through door-to-door canvassing and phone calls in the weeks and months leading up to an election.

Once you've determined that your form of resistance will including taking action to get more progressives into office, the next step is to begin the hard work of voter engagement. Below are some resources to help you get started.


The Carolina Resistance Door Knocking Guide is a step-by-step guide to neighborhood or precinct canvassing. Carolina Resistance also created a Community Issues Survey and a guide for Talking About Progressive Issues and Values in North Carolina.


Why campaigns’ "ground game" matters

By far the most effective way to turn out voters is with high-quality, face-to-face conversations that urge them to vote. How do we know? Nearly two decades of rigorous randomized experiments have proven it.
Alan Gerber and Don Green ran the first of these "field experiments" in 1998. The professors randomly assigned voters to receive different inducements to vote: some received postcards, some received phone calls, some received a visit from a canvasser, and some received nothing.
The experiment found that voters called on the phone or sent postcards were not noticeably more likely to vote than those sent nothing. But canvassing was different. Just one in-person conversation had a profound effect on a voter’s likelihood to go to the polls, boosting turnout by a whopping 20 percent (or around 9 percentage points).

Excerpted from Experiments show this is the best way to win campaigns. But is anyone actually doing it? by David Broockman and Joshua Kalla


Still not convinced? Read on about the power and importance of voter outreach.

Texas is the Future

Can Democrats reconquer the Lone Star State?

How a highly effective voter outreach strategy flipped a red district in Texas.

What It Means to Volunteer for a State Legislative Campaign

State legislative races are won by focusing almost exclusively on the voter list.

- NC State Senator Jeff Jackson

Rep. Keith Ellison hones new voter-turnout strategy for Democrats

Keith Ellison's get-out-the-vote strategy is a model for turning out Democrats in off-year elections.