Notes From Canvassing this week

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I lost count sometime yesterday, and I’m a little doped up on cold meds right now so I can’t get it back.

But through Thursday I had knocked on 520+ doors.   So, say 600+ doors this week.  Not every one was home, and of those who were not everyone opens the door.  But plenty did.

update – I forgot one that I really wanted to share.

I was in one neighborhood where all the neighbors knew each other, if not by nickname and birthday, by sight. And the ones with like aged kids, or shared interests tended to hang together.

But the voter who answered the door was very nervous, looking past me and around me, and so agitated I had to ask if everything was ok.  He/she explained he was looking for the obvious signs of other doors I’d visited but weren’t home- left Bennet lit. I asked if she thought it would be better if I didn’t leave anything – he said yes, because while the U & D neighbors were ok with each other, they realized they were outnumbered by the R neighbors and the R’s were wayyy more vocal and ….energetic. I retrieved everything (or hid it) and came back to her door. He was so glad – and a little embarrassed.  I asked what would happen if, and she explained that one of the neighbors was only just getting invites again to the card games and bbq’s and stuff since 04 when  the car had a Kerry sticker.  An actual, no-kidding, modern day shunning that lasted 5+ years.  In suburban Denver.

See, I grew up in Cook County, Illinois. I knew people who not only didn’t get garbage pick up for a month to six weeks, they got “extra” garbage added. I know people whose cars got frozen into a giant block of ice.  I saw how some streets got their road resurfaced year after year, and others just went to hell.  I was gifted a job guarding park district garbage trucks at night (we shot the rats) in exchange for having 35 “roommates” register at my address.

So I get the ferocity – I just was surprised to see an actual, overt shunning here.  (The neighbor in question got a new car, and registered R- problem solved.  Years later.)    And it got me thinking about CoPols as a community.  CoPols has banned posters. And now, at least once, suspended one. But though we posters sometimes mention ignoring this poster or that, I’ve never seen an organized avoidance.   I think as a community we may benefit.  Perhaps not.

I walked neighborhoods in the suburbs – north side, east side and south side.  Some things were the same everywhere, some not.

I met one CoPols poster for sure – he/she said something that was a clue, and confirmed it later with a post.  

Be polite to the canvasser.  I don’t really personally care when people are rude and obnoxious to me. It happens.  But it discourages others from canvassing and getting involved. And I think that kind of involvement is a good thing.  

Update your registration.  I tried to find you to remind you to vote, to confirm you knew where and how, and you moved but did not update your registration.  So you can’t vote at all.

Yes, I knocked on your door. Yes, I understand that the election is not your highest priority right now, and I apologized for interrupting your nap/tv show/food/day.  I do value your time.  But do you know why campaigns go door to door?  It works. PS – your “no soliciting” sign is fine – but it doesn’t apply to political campaigns.

Yes, I do understand that it’s none of my business who you voted for, or whom you are supporting.  I’m still asking.   Politely.  And on behalf of my candidate, I am going to ask you to consider him and give him your vote.

Some of the oldest poorest suburban neighborhoods have the biggest, oldest and best trees.  

As a campaigner Bennet may have benefitted from a tough primary that bloodied him up.  As a candidate he lost some life long registered D’s to false claims that now planted are tough to shake.  Because one block was very specific citing their source – I cite Christopher Scott specifically.  Your dislike of Michael Bennet convinced that block of several untruths.  If we lose by those nine votes,  you gave us Senator Buck.

When I ask you why, I really want to know.  I am not offended that you have decided not to vote for Bennet, but I really want to know why.  Of course you don’t have to tell me.  Just tell me you don’t want to talk about it.

No I don’t have a phone you can borrow, I can’t watch your kid for a minute, I can’t come in, I can’t get your mail, I don’t know your neighbor, and I don’t have tv so I can’t comment on any of the ads except I agree they are tiresome (turn off the tv)

I killed the cable tv earlier this year.  I miss channel surfing and the Yankees finding a way to win again and again. But I don’t get the full barrage of the tv campaign.  I gather it’s a “bad” year.  

First- campaigns use scary negative advertising because it works.  I know you say you hate it, but it works. In fact, your neighbor was thinking she would support Buck because  Michael Bennet wanted to privatize Social Security and Ken Buck was supporting President Obama. (I corrected her)  Your other neighbor thought it was insane that Ken Buck for was amnesty for immigrants. (I had no comment.)  So- short of turning off the tv – just ignore it: you and I can agree that the advertising is dumb and doesn’t work.   But it works.

Sure, you can not open the door. You can tell me you’re “undecided”. We’ll be back. We need you to vote because we think when you do, you are more likely to vote for our guy.

The lowest of the low information, most misinformed voter out there gets one vote. Just like the most well informed, high information voter. And there’s way more of the one the one flavor than the other.

Yes, the local paper gave a critical endorsement of Bennet.  But think about this- if they like Bennet so little to write a weak and critical endorsement, what must they think of Buck?  

I canvassed with some non-political, just moved here from somewhere else and don’t know anyone folks.  I have canvassed with former legislators and party officials.  It’s the same routine.

I’ve canvassed neighborhoods just like mine, and even where I know a bunch of the people on my list. And I’ve canvassed neighborhoods so different from mine in every observable way – it’s still the same routine. Rich, poor, working retired, men, women, old, young, whatever religion, whatever ethnicity, whatever race, whatever whatever – same routine.


It’s the only way the system works.

Organize and energize and get your neighbors and theirs to vote.    

58 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. DavidThi808 says:

    In ’04 and ’08 I would go with my daughters. In ’04 we spent election day down in Adams County (one goes where the party sends you) and kept walking till 6:55.

    Now they all live out of town 🙁 Election day GOTV won’t be anywhere near as much fun.

    • MADCO says:

      I know of one GOTV effort that succeeded in getting 95% + of registered voters to the polls. No mail, no early voting, some absentee voting, mostly good old school GOTV.  They were on the streets until 5 minutes before the polls closed – getting people to the polls.  

      At which point – they had a GOTV party.  If you’ve never been to one- it usually involves some sleep, or a hot tub, and then waking up to hear what happened.  (In that case- they won, so the party went on …and on….right up until the plane crash.)

  2. jpsandscl says:

    I applaud you, sincerely! I have not been motivated to do the same after the primary. It is difficult work at best (I was even attacked by a dog doing this during Obama’s campaign) so I salute anyone who does it. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to our party.

      • Hugo O'conor says:

        While canvassing for a fellow Rep, I got bit by a democrat German Shepherd that was looking for a hand-out not a hand-up. Instead it got a mouthful of my hand.

        Canine voter intimidation knows no party.

    • MADCO says:

      It was easier for Obama because I never got burned out.  And at this point in Oct 08 I realized he was gonna win, so it was a lot easier.

      I’ve been burnt on this campaign for some time now.  I still think Bennet is great – I’ve always liked him.  I still am grateful to his wife and family that they let him do this for us.  But I’m sick of this cycle.

      I know that few voters think like I do. (I don’t have asperger’s.) I know that my issues are not everyone’s.  It’s the never ending, exponentially multiplying avalanch of shit. The lies and half truths.  The only thing you can say in favor of this method of choosing our legislators is we end up getting some legislators.  Usually, not always, but usually they are enough like their constituents that it works ok.  Sure it could be better, but it could be so much worse.

      And my gut tells me we’ve got a coin toss. This week anyway – it’s too close to call.

      (PS for a couple hundred of those doors I was just north east of you.)  

  3. Ralphie says:

    you moved but did not update your registration.  So you can’t vote at all.

    If you’re still in state, you can show ID and fill out an address change at any vote center.

    That’s if you’re in a County that uses the State electronic pollbook.  If not, you can still vote provisional.

  4. Ellie says:

    Walking door to door is quickly becoming a lost art in the days of mass mail/e-mail/TV. Campaigners with your level of dedication is priceless and does make a difference.    

    • MADCO says:

      I hope to do some some day in your hood.

      The truth is, while it is the same routine everywhere, I’m pretty good at it.  (In the apartments I was doing 20+ doors an hour. In the SFR areas I was still getting 16+.)

      And I like it.

      I’d like to go with the candidate again some time.  I did that once for a no hope, ideological message campaign. But it  was still a blast.

      And while I know Bennet has knocked on a lot of doors for others, I’m not sure he’s done many this time around. I don’t fault him – circumstance doesn’t always allow.

      But I really enjoy seeing the candidates react to people personally reacting to their campaign. And it doesn’t usually get much more personal than 1:1 at the front door.

  5. Middle of the Road says:

    Well done.

    And yes, some of the best trees (and the coolest homes) are in the oldest parts of the neighborhood. I went canvassing a couple of weeks ago up here and we got completely lost in the mountains for about 30 minutes but wow…the views were off the charts awesome and it was a blast checking out 100 year old cabins. It was fun being lost.  

    • MADCO says:

      Seriously – embarrassed to admit I got lost in Aurora in a construction zone.  Wayy too many dumpsters.

      And I got a little turned around on the south side of  C. Springs.   Too few street signs.  Finally realized that asking about st names and block numbers was less useful than asking about which way to Walmart.

      • Middle of the Road says:

        other than getting lost and joy riding for half an hour, was at an Unaffliated female voter’s house. I hopped out of the car with lit in hand and she came hauling ass across the yard and said, “I don’t want any of that.” I said, “Okay, cool, no problem.”

        I had on jeans, hiking boots and a wool sweater so I guess I didn’t look the part of the evangelist and I’ve never been into the hard sell so I headed right back to the car. She stopped me and said, “I just don’t want any religious pamphlets.” I started laughing and told her that wasn’t why I was there and explained what I had and she said, “Oh, I would like that info, especially on your Senate candidate.”

        I’ve been doing this long enough to know what that meant. Score one for Bennet.  

  6. sxp151 says:

    Last time I did it, I inadvertently did all the suburban homes first and then the apartment complex later. One person was happy to see me, but the rest were really rude.

    People who come to the door with kids are also just about to say something really nasty to you. Personally I don’t see why you’d encourage your kids to be mean to people, but then I don’t live in the suburbs.

    Oh, and I haven’t figured out an effective way of persuading the undecided. People who don’t know who they’re voting for also don’t really know what would persuade them. I guess it’s the teacher in me who asks if they have any questions (they always say no).

    Gonna try again on Sunday.

  7. The realist says:

    Far too few candidates spend enough time at it – it’s quite valuable for them in refining their message and gaining a better understanding of what’s motivating voters.  

    Personally, I’m not motivated to do it this year.  Did a lot of it as a candidate in ’02 and ’04, was motivated in ’06 when Ritter ran (ha! we sure didn’t know we were getting a one-term Governor, did we?!).  Worked my you-know-what off in ’08 for Obama and all Dem candidates – helped run a local campaign office, knocked on a LOT of doors, and sent canvassers out to the same neighborhoods repeatedly on election day, to get out the vote.  This year, not so much.

  8. bjwilson83 says:

    “Diaries of a Doped up Door Knocker” 🙂

    But seriously, I agree with most of your points. Kind of funny to have something in common.

  9. Ray Springfield says:

    That’s the main difference that I’ve found.

    Unfortunately these voters historically  are the least likely to vote.

    As the neighborhoods increase in property value, the unaffiliateds appear more hostile.

  10. Daisy Margarita says:

    I had a canvasser stop by a couple of weeks ago, nice older gentleman working on behalf of Bennet. He was specifically looking for me, not my husband (husband is a registered Dem, I’m UAF). I made it easy for the guy and told him: 1) yes I’m voting, have never skipped a general election since I turned 18 many moons ago, and 2) yes I’m voting for Bennet. Not necessarily because he’s my ideal choice for senator but because the alternative is, well, no alternative at all.

    Hopefully my neighbors treated him well but no guarantees in this neck of the woods. I’m sure they would either not open the door or give him the “none of your business” treatment.

    I’ve been bombarded with attack flyers, mostly from conservative groups, which receive a cursory glance then go straight to the recycle bin. Not one canvasser on Buck’s behalf. That’s fine by me… this is one suburban woman who would never give him a vote, for anything.

  11. RavenDawg says:

    You get 5-10 seconds from the opening of the door to make a positive impression for your candidate.  Telephone canvassing is similar intensity but the payoff from people interactions is less.  For me, either activity requires that I actually be strongly committed to the candidates or issues I represent–which is why I am not canvassing this cycle.

    The positive aspects in my experience are 1)in the main, people are incredibly tolerant of election canvassers-they seem to recognize that this is part of the process, even if they don’t support your candidate. 2) if they do support your candidate, a mutually reinforcing process of encouraging each other happens. 3) Every now and then you can tell you actually made a difference in explaining a policy, providing useful info, or helping non-participants to get motivated–incredibly rewarding. 4)Win or lose, feeling like you did your part.

    The worst experience I have had was calling for a woman–her husband/partner answered and refused to let her come to the door–he had abuser written all over him, a very creepy-scary guy.  Nothing to do but get out of there and hope she didn’t get into trouble for wanting to vote.    

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