Conversations in the pub

22/05/2009

Apparently, people like to say things like “I’d only ever vote for X with a gun to my head” in order to test the canvasser.

If you run away, as the safe-seated subject of the conversation did, then they think you’re not worthy, and will be true to what they’ve said.

But if you stop and ask “why?” and then debate it with them, they’re actually likely to vote for you seeing as you’ve passed their little test.

Oh, and voters can tell when you’re outside deciding which person should talk to which household based on previous experience. They find it demeaning – best to drop the voter ID-ing act and just go to every door.

UPDATE: Of course, there’s an exception to this when you want to be able to get out the vote at short notice. i.e. on election day.

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Balloons as campaigning material

13/05/2009

Pretty good idea actually. If you want to get a brand (e.g. the SLP logo) promoted, then the way to go about it is to use the balloon/t-shirt combo in a populated area, handing them out to people.

Will take a good look at prices, and get back to you on cost-effectiveness compared to leaflets.

[UPDATE]: yup, it’s looking good. You can get 1000 specialised balloons for just ¬£108 from these guys.

I’d call that good value for money – leaflets generally cost about the same, and balloons will be far more visible and dare I say it fun!


Door-to-door canvassing or setting up in the middle of town?

07/05/2009

The two most common forms of canvassing involve going from door-to-door handing out leaflets and discussing politics on the door-step, or else setting up with a banner and something to hand out in the middle of town.

Having done both, I suspect that setting up stall is the better option. As Stu Sharpe pointed out in the comments on the last post, some, if not most people really don’t like speaking to strangers on their own doorstep. Some will be annoyed, others bleary-eyed, inattentive and dismissive, and yet more will be disturbed whilst doing something probably very important.

They do however generally take a greater interest when you’ve set up in the midde of town. You’re likely to be approached, they’re likely to be more chatty and to voice their opinions, and there’s little sense of invading their space, so long as you stay polite and cheerful, and let them be when they’ve made it clear they want to be left alone.

Not only are people more approachable and willing to approach, but you’re likely to come into contact with lots more people in a shorter amount of time than going from door to door. It’s also generally more fun!

Having said that, both approaches are probably very useful – it’s worth finding the right balance between the two.


When canvassing, is asking voter intention / past a good idea?

05/05/2009

Asking voter intention is of course a very common thing when canvassing, but is it a good idea?

The reason I ask is because very often, people act according to how they perceive themselves. For example, I already think of myself as a natural SLP voter (obviously), and will actually struggle to vote otherwise for the elections we’re not contesting. The question therefore is whether you should (perhaps¬†inadvertently) affirm people’s self-perception of the way they vote when canvassing.

I think it depends on the circumstances.

If you’re a well-known party, and canvassing in an area that usually votes your way, then asking voter intention is a good idea. For example, if I were in an “SLP area”, with natural “SLP voters”, then asking them the question would mean they affirm that self-perception as an SLP voter, and are likely to vote that way.

However, if you’re less well-known, then it may pose a huge risk. For example, asking how they vote in a Conservative area will do no good whatsoever. One of the first things they’ll say at the door will be “I vote Conservative”, so any chance of persuading them to vote otherwise is spoilt. Saying anything negative about “their ” party will be seen as offensive, and anything positive about your own will likely be negated by the effect of getting them to state the way they’ve “always” voted in the past.

There are of course extraordinary circumstances. For example, some campaigners from other parties are finding that asking voter intention in some previously pro-Labour areas will produce great results, with people perhaps saying “never again”. It means they’ll immediately consider the next alternative (presumably the party that’s second in the constituency), and will be affirming their intention to never vote Labour.

Perhaps the best option then in order to gain wavering voters or “independents” is to avoid the question altogether, in the meantime using a positive pro-SLP message in order to persuade them to be natural SLP voters.

The other downside to not asking is that you don’t gain any sense of where exactly the pro and anti areas are! Perhaps then it’s best to ask which way they’ve voted only after you’ve been elected and are confident that the area may indeed have been pro-SLP.