With field canvassing technology, many campaigns can execute a volunteer field program with a higher ROI than ever before. Large campaigns turn to paid operations in order to add size, scale, professionalism, and accountability. AAPC heard from some talented political pros including Chris Turner (Stampede Consulting), Meghan Cox (Lincoln Strategy Group), and Chris Gallaway (FieldWorks) as they shared examples and discussed how to effectively structure a field program, and maximize your gains as we head into midterms.
Chris Turner’s Lessons:
- It’s important to remember how effective face to face communication is compared to digital communication. A live request (face-to-face) for a call to action is 34 times more effective than sending an email (controlled for strength of relationship).
- GOTV does increase voter turnout. There is a high return on investment, but you have to do it right.
- The Democratic side seems to plan for field earlier and tends to run longer programs than the Republican side.
- Volunteers are not free! You should make sure to insure them. They are an extremely important part of the team.
- Run criminal background checks on all volunteers and paid canvassers. There are a lot of background costs—keep this in mind when you are building out your program.
About Chris: Chris Turner serves as CEO of Stampede Consulting, a firm specializing in grassroots door-to-door canvassing programs for pro-free market candidates and causes. Stampede’s field teams provide some of the industry’s best and award-winning survey collection, voter identification, persuasion, and get-out-the-vote mobilization services.
- The initial contact with voters is very important. This requires a lot of attention to detail to make sure you are bringing back a clean list after knocking on doors. Changes of address, no solicitation, etc. needs to be noted.
- You need a lot of lead time for a field program. The highest quality programs need a lot of time—at least several weeks—just for hiring the right people.
- Use technology for canvassing field operations. This ensures that your data is clean and your polls are reliable. Make sure you are not using hand written bubble sheets anymore.
- The downside of a healthy economy is that labor costs are increasing very quickly. Low rates of unemployment lead to much higher labor costs for field workers.
- Put volunteers on rural voter areas. To conserve costs, you want your paid canvassers hitting the dense areas.
About Meghan: Meghan Cox has been with Lincoln Strategy Group since its inception, where she oversees the firm’s large scale national grassroots campaigns for both political and corporate clients that require intense logistical planning and management.
Chris Gallaway’s Lessons:
- Field is one of the last thing funded for both Democrats and Republicans. Compared to direct mail, phones, and TV, field is often thought of too late.
- Ideally, local faces should be knocking on local doors to talk about candidates. Allow at least 5-7 days to recruit that workforce.
- Technology has allowed field programs to be better managed and have better quality control.
- You need to know when and where everything is happening on a canvas operation. You need a vendor that can catch fraudulent canvassers the first day rather than 3 weeks in.
- Canvases are not safe environments. You need to make sure that folks are W-2 employees rather than 1099 employees. This is the legal way to pay people in this environment.
About Chris: Chris Gallaway is an expert in data management, targeting, voter contact, campaign finance and party operations. Chris also works with campaigns and organizations to find effective ways of using new technologies and the Internet to build their resources.
A huge thank you to our speakers for sharing their expertise with the AAPC membership!