a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

A weekend of canvassing

Posted by Thomas Nephew on September 22nd, 2008

Million Doors for Peace on Saturday. Obama on Sunday. Today must be Monday.

I only knocked on about 80 doors this weekend, but on Sunday it seemed like every d…elightful one of them was on the 3d floor of IdentApartmentComplexVille in Dumfries, VA.

In both cases, I was working from walking lists — lists of selected names in address order.  The common thread was that both lists — as usual — bore only an approximate relation to reality.  On Saturday, I was in my own neighborhood, and the names were of infrequent or new voters.  They turned out to be mainly — duh — kids who had left for college.  I had enough presence of mind to ask their parents whether they might sign on to the MD4P petition  to Congress (out of Iraq in one year), and a fair number did.  Most importantly, I got three or four (potential) volunteers for future work that way, vs. only one off the walking list.

Dumfries, VA Obama HQ
Dumfries, VA Obama HQ.
Originally uploaded by Thomas Nephew;
see also slideshow.

For some reason, I was less mentally flexible the next day, though the problem was a little different.  In this case I was in a cookie cutter low-to-middle-price range apartment complex development in Dumfries, Virginia.  By whatever criterion the names were selected here (perhaps also newly registered and/or infrequent voters), turnover was high — and this time, instead of doing something with Mr. or Ms. Surprise NewlyMovedIn at the door, I just gave them the packet of literature and moved on.  The difference, I think, was (a) that I was maybe a little more tired and stupid on Sunday, (b) I had it in my head from the briefing that I was only after answers about the names on my walking list, and (c) that I didn’t have any designated piece of paper to put Mr. or Ms. Surprise NewlyMovedIn on.  (Though I might have crossed out the Mr. or Ms. NotThereAnymore and just written in the new name.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.)  I did get one volunteer and a couple of strong Obama supporters, but my unstupid partner did much better with fewer doors.

Well, I’ll do better next time.  Now to bed.

UPDATE, 9/22: Prior “Million Doors for Peace” posts here. Also, eRobin at factesque provides a video of how things went in a Pennsyvlania “Million Doors for Peace” canvass.  Pretty well! — 3 hours, 257 contacts, 11 volunteers.
UPDATE, 9/22: SurveyUSA has Obama up 51-45 in Virginia, though results are among voting age; likely voters made up 80% of the tally. Still, how about this: “Among women, Obama led by 6 points before Sarah Palin was named to the GOP ticket, now leads by 16.” Survey taken 9/19-21.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE, 9/22: I’d heard of this, from Yale U.’s Brett M., but here’s the specific finding and reference, via Sean Quinn (“”): “For every twelve voters who you talk to at their doors, one voter goes and votes who would not otherwise have voted. If you’re asking: “how can I be most effective in helping my candidate win the election?” then an organizer’s answer is going to be: knock on doors.” (Source: Getting Out the Vote in Local Elections: Results from Six Door-to-Door Canvassing Experiments. Donald P. Green, Alan S. Gerber, David W. Nickerson; Yale University.)

3 Responses to “A weekend of canvassing”

  1. eRobin Says:

    Most importantly, I got three or four (potential) volunteers for future work that way, vs. only one off the walking list.

    I wish I had that outcome. That’s one of the big goals so you’re a hero!!

  2. Thomas Nephew Says:

    Ta da! Thanks.

  3. » Blog Archive » Split ticket weekend Says:

    […] two of us wound up in a similar neighborhood to the one I canvassed in Dumfries a couple of weeks ago — rental apartment complexville, Mr. and Ms. (Pretending […]

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