Like many of my fellow Wake the Voters, I am spending my summer campaigining. This means that I’ve gone out canvassing and knocked on doors more times than I can count, and that my perception of canvassing has changed almsot as many times. For those who are considering trying out doorknocking (which I strongly reccomend), or for those who have been there, done that, here are my reflections on the doorknocking experience:
- Wake the Vote Canvassing at the primaries gave me the skills to hit the ground running.
I can confidently say that working for a variety of presidential campaigns made me adaptable to the Congressional campaign I currently work for with minimal training. I was already comfortable and confident knocking on doors in places I was not familiar with, which prepared me for when I have gone knocking in areas of the district I had not been to before.
- Bring lots of water and snacks
This is always a good idea so that your body stays energized. This is necessary, however, when your average day on the campaign starts at 3pm and can go until 9pm. Especially in Virginia humidity/heat that stays 101 degrees strong even at 7pm. An added bonus? Lots of snacks/water make it a lot easier to be happy and energized.
3. Canvassing in high heels and a dress is a lie
Before starting my internship, I had always idealized campaigning a little. I always thought that canvassers dressed well to make a great impression on voters, especially when it came to the candidates themselves. In reality, however, unless you are a super human, your tennis shoes and Nike shorts are your best friends out on the campaign trail. One of the most humanizing moments that I have had on the campaign is every time that the Congresswoman herself goes out in sneakers and hits the ground running. If you want to campaign hard, you need practical shoes.
- There is absolutely no reason to go to the gym on a door knocking day
If you’re doing a full 5+ hour shift in the hot sun, you’re doing it right. Fellow interns in the office with FitBits have confirmed getting well over the 10,000 steps on canvassing days without working out prior.
- A smile and a “How is your day going” can go a long way
Like many people, I was very nervous that people would be mean/angry when I knocked on their door. Although it does happen, for the most part everyone is very polite. If a constituent chooses to answer the door for you, then they often are excited to see you and share their opinions with you. Being polite and asking them about their day can go a long way in preventing unhappy encounters.
- Be excited about the unique opportunity you have
Unlike political analysts, you are being afforded the opportunity to directly speak with voters face-to-face. That’s an incredible gift. Appreciate it.
- You get to know your district really well
Truth be told, I had no idea how large my district was until I started working on the campaign. I always vaguely assumed that VA-10 would be on the smaller side, given how densely populated the Northern Virginia Suburbs of D.C. are. Oh how wrong I was. My district extends all the way into parts of the Shenandoah Valley. Although this makes my Congresswoman’s job a lot harder by having to represent all different types of areas (with urban, suburban, and rural areas represented), it truly makes my district representative of the country at-large. Doorknocking throughout my district has helped me feel connected to the district and the political process.