I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve gone canvassing and kicked myself because I had to walk back through blocks and blocks of houses that I already canvassed. What a waste of time! To eliminate this waste, spend a few minutes looking at your canvassing packet and figure out strategically how to go through as efficiently as possible. There are a number of ways that you can canvass a street or section of your canvassing packet to avoid backtracking:
The leap frog
If you are canvassing with a volunteer, this is the technique where you park your car at the beginning of a street and skip over one another one side of the road and use this same technique back the other side of the road. Be sure that street lists are broken up by odd and even house numbers.
Evens and odds
While canvassing with a volunteer, each person takes one side of the road. This is best if you are hitting a number of streets; where one there are at least two streets that circle back to the car.
Drop and pop
In a rural district or in a local election with few targeted voters, it’s helpful to have a driver to take you right to the voters’ door, stop, and let you knock on the door. When you’re done at that door, get back in the car and repeat.
In addition, depending upon the precinct that you’re canvassing, consider skipping a few doors altogether. Make a judgment call about the time that it would take to get to the targeted voter or voters and the value that you would get for it. If you have to go fifteen minutes out of your way for two households, that’s not an efficient use of your time and you should call them instead.
Abe Lincoln said, “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my axe.” A similar principle, although you don’t need quite as much preparation time, applies to canvassing. The time that you invest in preparing the most efficient route pays dividends while you’re out in the field.
About the Author Ben Donahower is a national authority on get out the vote and campaign signs. Ben is a seasoned campaign operative in the battleground state of Pennsylvania where he has worked on campaigns professionally since 2004. His strengths include providing strategic vision for candidates, campaign analytics, and voter psychology. Read more from this author