How to Canvass

Learning how to canvass is very important during political campaigns. Canvassing is initiating an indirect or direct contact with a target group of individuals during your political campaign. A campaign team comes door to door of private residences and interacts with the voters.

The main purpose of canvassing is to get a quick voter identification to see how the individuals are planning to vote instead of persuading or arguing with the voters. This is one of the integral parts of the ‘get the vote’ operation. On the day of polling, all the voters will be reminded to cast a vote in their ballot. Here are some simple steps on how to canvass.

Things Required:

  • A clipboard
  • A smile
  • Good attitude
  • Knowledge about your issue


  • The first and the most important step is to smile, because you never know who is watching you. Always remember that you must never jump to conclusions regarding your potential supporters based on their house, neighborhood or street. You never know what causes them to vote for you.
  • Ring the bell, knock on the door and take a bog step back. If a stranger is standing too close to the door when the other person is opening the door, then you will put-off the person against opening the door. Instead, you must stand back and smile.
  • Introduce yourself to and give them all the necessary details like who you are, why you are in the neighborhood and what you need from them. You must always assume that they know your organization. You can start with an opener like, “Hi, I am Ken and I am from San Francisco recycles and we got the curbside recycling done. We are out today signing up all the new members and also doing some fundraising.”
  • After this, you must hand out a clipboard to the person standing at the door. Do not say anything else after this until the person has taken the clipboard from you. This act is known as clipboard control. Once they have taken the clipboard, you must find out if they agree with you on the issues listed on the clipboard. Point out the highlighted issues to them and ask, “Which of the issues means the most to them?”
  • Once they have found out their main issue, then you must use your knowledge on that issue to spell out ‘the problem’ the way your organization sees it. Make sure that the person standing at the door agrees with you on the problem before you go on to the next step.
  • Once you get an agreement on the problem, use all your knowledge to come up with a solution the way your organization sees it. Ensure that the person standing with you on the door agrees with you on the solution before you move on. Once you get an agreement on the problem and solution, come with a strategy with the help of your organization and explain the strategy to person at the door.
  • Now that everyone agrees on the solution, problem and strategy, then it is time to get what you have come for i.e. money. This is known as targeting and it is completely based on issue agreement. The more issue agreement you tend to built, the higher target you will achieve. Always remember that most of the times you will never get what you ask for, so always ask for more than you think you will get.
  • Whenever you are targeting, always look at the person directly in the eye and speak with full confidence. If you get ‘no’ as an answer, smile and thank the person for giving their valuable time.

Tips and Warnings:

  • If the person at the door does not take the clipboard, then they are probably not interested in listening to what you have to say. If this happens, then you must skip right to the target, take whatever you can get and move to next door.
  • If the person standing at the door wants to talk to you, it means that there will be strong issue agreement, so make sure that you never cut them off.
  • Never hesitate to ask for more money. If the person offers you 60 dollars, then tell them, “60 dollars is great, but if you can give 75 dollars, that would help us.”
  • Always remember, while canvassing use confident language. Never use words like ‘if’ or ‘when’. Also, never say that you are “trying to do something” or “you are still working on” handling the issues.

Related Content:

  1. How to Run for Local Office
  2. How to Open LLC
  3. How to Lobby
  4. How to Control Time
  5. How to be Less Shy
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