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I want to help us win this election.  I really do.  I know if we don't win, it will be partially my fault.  If I do nothing and we lose, and in a couple of years find myself with two little brothers fighting in a war with Iran, one already enlisted, the other drafted because we've stretched ourselves too thin, I fear it will be my partially my fault because I didn't do enough.  

I'm not saying this to be cute, or to be popular on this website, I'm saying it because that's how I really feel.  I was talking to my dad tonight, a relatively conservative man who lives in western North Carolina.  I don't think he likes McCain all that much, although I'm not sure he's going to vote for Obama either.  Regardless, I think he's wise and trust his counsel when he says that Gov. Palin will draw a lot of women voters, and there are a lot of people in the South who won't vote for Obama, only because he's a black man.

More after the fold...

But I refuted him, "after all we've been through, would people really gamble the future of this country, electing another George Bush, solely because the other choice, the better choice, is a black man".  He told me yes.  He's right.  If America is going to change, we're going to have to drag it kicking and screaming all the way.

So I've resolved to do more than vote, do more than blog and talk with my friends.  I've resolved to knock on doors, to put my face in my community.  I figure I can spend at least my Saturdays up to the election knocking on doors, helping spread the word.  

I've tried this before though.  I've knocked on doors, trying to register voters.  I knocked on probably 40-50 doors, and only registered three voters.  I'm sure that even those three were a start, but I couldn't help but feel I was doing something wrong.

Now I see this new Neighbor to Neighbor application on  This is right up my alley.  Its not an easy drive to Obama headquarters, and this application seems to make canvassing easier.  It provides you with a list of people in your neighborhood, a script and even some fliers to distribute.  There's even a training video.

Sounds easy right?  Not for me.  I've never done this before, and chances are if I do this I'll be either doing it alone or doing it with someone even more inexperienced than I.  

So I call upon the wisdom of the crowd here at D. K. to give me, and anyone else who wants to be the best they can be, to give me whatever tips and insight you may have.  Some questions I might have are:

- Should I stick specifically to the script, or deviate in a way that makes me comfortable?

-What should I wear?  Should I dress casually or more professionally?

-There's a checklist of questions I have to answer.  Should I mark their information down while they answer, or wait until the conversation is finished?

Those are just a few questions, but I would appreciate anything else my friends here would be willing to contribute.  I'm sure I'm not the only person on here who is a little shy when it comes to such things, so I'm sure any help for me would also be a help to others.

I'm going to sit here and listen to my Sam Cooke LP and see what you guys have to say.  Thank you in advance!

Originally posted to nicweb on Sat Sep 06, 2008 at 05:26 PM PDT.


What's your favorite Sam Cooke Song?

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| 41 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips/Recs? (22+ / 0-)

    My dad once said, "son, what you know would fill a large book.  What you don't know fills all the libraries of the world".

    Kay Hagan for Senate!

    by nicweb on Sat Sep 06, 2008 at 05:27:05 PM PDT

    •  I used to mortally fear canvassing/phone banking (8+ / 0-)

      and now, those things are two of my favorite things to do on a volunteer campaign (especially face-to-face canvassing). The more you do it, the more comfortable you become with it. Practice makes better. And remember, you don't have to have stellar speaking skills to be a good canvasser; you just need to be friendly, be yourself, and say what you believe in.

      As Obama's Neighbor to Neighbor site demonstrates, it all starts with the people you already see everyday in your own neighborhood. People are generally more likely to trust someone "in their neck of the woods" than an outside canvasser from DC who doesn't know shit from shineola about your surroundings or what your neighbors are going through on a day-to-day basis.

      To answer your questions, 1) dress neatly but casually and comfortably--because you'll be doing a lot of door-to-door walking; and 2) use the script as a guide and a core to get you started, but feel free to add a personal touch (e.g. "My sister-in-law just got laid off, and she's very concered about the fact that she'll lose her healthcare"), or re-word the script in a way that remains true to the message but is more natural-sounding and not "forced".

      Hope this helps--and best of luck. :)

      Palin raised taxes as governor, supported the Bridge to Nowhere before she opposed it...and thinks the war in Iraq is "a task from God." - Joe Klein

      by boofdah on Sat Sep 06, 2008 at 05:32:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Don't stress about a 40-3 ratio. (6+ / 0-)

      That's really about par for the course, at least in the suburbia I was working in today.  The great thing is that the info you bring back to HQ is still valuable.  They will note that a contact still needs to be made and they will usually try a different time to improve the chances. Sometimes a campaign will have to knock on a door a dozen times before they make contact.

    •  I want to volunteer, also, but am terrified..... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Blue Intrigue, mamamedusa, nicweb

      Your questions echo many of the concerns that I have about canvassing and phone banking.  I did some phone banking in 2004, and it was not a good experience.  

      I guess I took the nasty rejections too seriously and personally.  I'm not a pushy person, and being sworn at, insulted, and even threatened, really intimidated me.  There were a few pleasant conversations... a VERY few.  

      My admiration and respect for the Obama supporters who've knocked on doors, and taken that abuse face-to-face knows no bounds.  You are my heroes, big time!!!!

      I feel the same way you do.  I send in donations each month (small, but all I can afford); I talk with friends and family members, getting as many to register as I can, and I'll personally drive whomever I can to the polls on Election Day.  But, I know that's still not enough.  Every day I get closer to taking the plunge.  So, thanks for the push!

      I think your diary is what I've needed to get me over some of my fears.  Thank you. I'm now wolfing down all of the encouraging comments and suggestions. :-)

      (I think I can... I think I can... I think I can...)

      •  I'm with you, awcomeon.... (4+ / 0-)

        and today I finally took the plunge, went down to our Campaign for Change office and made 60 calls.  The first one was the toughest, of course.

        I was given a list of elderly, active voters who had no declared party affiliation.

        I live in a very traditional, very white part of the country where guns, hunting and snow machines are a big deal. I prepared myself to hear an earful...

        ....and I didn't have a single nasty conversation, not one.  A couple were short and quite terse, the rest quite pleasant, fun even.    

        Yes, I'll do it again.

        Then I'll work up to knocking on doors....

        •  Thanx so much for sharing that. I am amazed at (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Blue Intrigue, mamamedusa

          how many great ideas I've gotten on this one thread!  I guess that saying, "Ask and ye shall receive",  still applies on a daily basis.  'Cause I've sure been asking the Lord for some courage to do my part in getting Obama elected!

          You have no idea how much I appreciate you taking the time to tell me about your experiences today.  I feel my mojo coming back! Really!  (LOL)  

          Peace, friend.  

          •  My worst door-knocks haven't been that bad. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Blue Intrigue, awcomeon

            The worst I've gotten so far is an abrupt, "I'm a McCain man" with the door closed quickly.  This, in a small midwestern town with a lot of elderly conservative White people.

            Approaching with a smile and genuine attitude of community service goes a long way.  It helps to know that every door-knock, even the ones where someone basically tells me to go away, is productive.  Those closed doors are more information:  No one from the Obama campaign ever needs to spend any time on that voter again.  Good; that's useful data.  Move on to someone we might persuade.

            •  I never thought about even the rejections by (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Blue Intrigue

              McCain voters being positive information for the Obama campaign to use.  DEFINITELY makes a difference in the way I think about canvassing and phone banking now.

              Each comment has helped me learn more and more.  All have been valuable.  Yours is another excellent one.  Heartfelt thanks to every one of you!

  •  Thanks for going out of your way (8+ / 0-)

    to improve our future.  While you're out there, be genuine, explain it like you would tell it to a friend.  Please, update us with your experiences.  I love it when folks share their first hand accounts.  

    Hey, Nine-House McCain, I lost my house, can I have one of yours? Like HRC says, not a moment to waste, not a vote to spare.

    by RoCali on Sat Sep 06, 2008 at 05:32:56 PM PDT

  •  My advice: (7+ / 0-)

    Go with a buddy if possible. It sure makes the whole endeavor more fun and I find myself motivated by having someone with me.

    It is a good idea to "stick to the script" but you should also try to be natural and comfortable. If you seem like you are reading or rushing through a list of talking points, you may be less effective.

    When I have gone out canvassing, I generally start out with a script, and make subtle changes through the day until I get something that I think is working. The more you do it, the easier it will get (obviously).

    On the question of dress: try to dress comfortable and appropriate to the weather. As long as you don't look like a bum or a missionary, most people will be receptive to you regardless of your attire.

    Good luck!

  •  Favorite Sam Cooke song? That one's easy - (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boofdah, awcomeon

    You Send Me.

    Until the economy recovers, I'll settle for cheap laughs

    by Clyde the Cat on Sat Sep 06, 2008 at 05:40:05 PM PDT

  •  I am kind of limited in what I can usefully do (8+ / 0-)

    I live in NYC (blue as can be); and NY State is also safe.

    I don't drive, I have 2 kids, so travel isn't really good.  My phone manner is awful.

    So, I give money and I blog a lot.

    But I'm thinking back to the nights we all donated pizzas to campaign workers, I think that could be fun, and be very useful if done in an organized way

    Also, if anyone knows how Obama could use statistical help ... let me know.

  •  Personally (4+ / 0-)

    I have trouble sticking to the script, at least for the persuasive sections. It always feels forced and unnatural for me to recite the words. I usually start the conversation on the script and then ask questions to find out what's important and speak to those issues directly.

    The new scripts have that interview section where we ask about certain issues, for that part I go down the list and ask them. It usually spurs a conversation on the issues that matter and can be persuasive while still getting the info.

  •  It's gonna be alright.... (6+ / 0-)
    - Should I stick specifically to the script, or deviate in a way that makes me comfortable?

    Definately deviate in a way that makes you feel more comfortable. The script is just a jumping off point. Please make this as personal as possible.

    -What should I wear?  Should I dress casually or more professionally?

    Wear something very comfortable and err on the side of professional if you must. I prefer to wear jeans and a white button down blouse. Fits in almost everywhere. I wear very comfortable shoes, but never Berkinstocks. LOL

    -There's a checklist of questions I have to answer.  Should I mark their information down while they answer, or wait until the conversation is finished?

    Really good question. If you can remember then wait and keep eye contact, but the info is data, so if you are not going to remember then write it down and acknowledge that you are listening with a nod and/ or repeat what they said to you in an affirming way.

    Those are just a few questions, but I would appreciate anything else my friends here would be willing to contribute.  I'm sure I'm not the only person on here who is a little shy when it comes to such things, so I'm sure any help for me would also be a help to others.

    You will be fine. Go with someone to your first two or three doors. It helps if you go with someone that has a really good handle on it and then you will see that it can actually be fun.
    Relax and know that not only are you helping the campaign but you are reaching beyond your comfort zone and making yourself more confident. WAY TO GO!!

    Reward yourself afterward with a nice glass of wine and a good debrief with your new friends from the campaing too.

    The meaning of life is to live it.

    by COwoman on Sat Sep 06, 2008 at 05:47:04 PM PDT

  •  I know the PERFECT way you can help! (9+ / 0-)

    I live near Kansas City, and one of the great things you can help out with FROM HOME is Data Entry! Ask your local Obama office how you could help with Data Entry. It's easy to do, you don't have to confront voters, and its fulfilling!
    They really need the help too. At the office I was at, they had thousands of names to enter in the database that will be used for the GOTV on election day. They had a lot of work to do with matching names of voters they identified to voters on the Voter Registration Rolls to make sure the County Offices go them registered. So the Data Entry Team is SUPER important to victory.

    So consider that. The office here has a team that has volunteers working completely from the comfort of their own home too and the office near you might do something similar. So check it out.
    This is one of the great ways for you to get involved and not so intimidating!

  •  Don't get discouraged by apathy! (4+ / 0-)

    I tried to organize a "Bowling for Barack" event for Labor Day in our home town (Lawrence, KS, a very liberal place that will go 65% Obama probably) with high school friends from the late '60s--people who back then were marching against Nixon and the war.  I even had a tentative lead on the local bowling alley's willingness to donate the lanes, etc.

    This was several weeks ago in the planning, but it did not materialize for lack of interest.  And I can  practically hear the groans that likely greet my e-mails on the subject of how important this election is.  And it is discouraging.

    Then I go to the Obama headquarters a few blocks away and there are excited and devoted young people who remind me of "the way we were".  I'm sending the locals some one-page flyers to use not only for Obama but in the U.S. Senate race here.

    •  I'm from Lawrence, KS too. Think Slattery has a (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a brain, awcomeon

      chance down here? Maybe in Lawrence, but he has not been able to get his message out like I'd hoped he be able to.
      Pat Roberts just has way too much money. And its sad because he's one of the main senators who was on that intelligence committee that gave us faulty evidence that led us to the war in Iraq.

      •  Roberts: "Saddam wouldn't let the inspectors in" (0+ / 0-)

        This clown actually said that when he was Chairman of the committee, as explanation for why we had to invade.   Ice, e-mail me and let's put together a flyer against Roberts.  Kansas once had moderate GOP senators.

    •  And both Electoralvote and 538 have Obama (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Blue Intrigue

      winning Ohio and up in several other states.  So don't be discouraged!

  •  team up to better listen (4+ / 0-)

    Thank you for what you are doing.

    Another reason for teaming up to canvass with one person taking notes, is that it allows you to actively listen to the person you are engaging.  That's critical.  Between nerves and wanting to list all the reasons Obama must be our president, it's easy to launch a monologue.  

    When the person responds to one of your questions, it's helpful to ask "why is that important to you?" or "tell me more about that." It often gets to the emotion or motivation behind the statements they make. Then you can respond in a way that is truly relevant to that person, rather than just run through talking points.

    As someone else said, your number of knocks to actual conversation ratio is high.  Another reason to team, it's simply more fun.  And when you do have that great conversation with someone who answered their door, you have someone to share it with.

    Whatever response you get, always end with a smile that reflects that you are empowered by what you are doing.

    As boofdah said, it will take practice to get comfortable. Know that you are developing skills that will help you in every aspect of your life. I really do hope you will keep us posted on how things go.

  •  In Maryland (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a brain, mamamedusa, awcomeon

    Thanks for posting this; I and some of my friends have been giving money but want to do more; we are in Maryland and were thinking of trying to connect in Virginia.  But I am not confident of my ability to be persuasive to people on the fence.  I think I need training too.

    "First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win." - Gandhi

    by Seymour Glass on Sat Sep 06, 2008 at 06:29:52 PM PDT

    •  Absolutely, consider going to a "purple" state (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mamamedusa, awcomeon

      It's why I will likely come up to Kansas from Texas, and run over to Missouri to help the campaign there.  Or maybe go over to NM, depending on how the polls look.  I think NM is close to being in the bag for Obama as compared to MO.

  •  You'll get more comfortable as you go... (4+ / 0-)

    It really does...

    I try to dress professionally... and add some VERY obvious Obama button or a clip board w/ Obama bumper sticker on the back of it. Definitely have some OBVIOUS Obama stuff that people can easily identify...that way, people can see when they answer the door what you are there for. If they are absolutely not interested...McCainiacs...people who don't want to be bothered, they will be brief, cut you off before you get started and/ or close the door (or maybe even not answer the door)

    Just keep a pleasant smile, and remind yourself that you are out to educate people.

    Carry a 'cheat sheet' with you that can help you deflect some of the common misnomers.

    I've always found it easiest to lure people in with a compliment if you can...(ie., your garden is beaauuuuuutiful, this is such a nice neighborhood)

    It's also good to print off (if you can) some information from the web-site that you can readily hand out to people.

    In the end, I do feel like a lot of being out there really does have to do with people seeing Obama supporters out there...there are still a lot of people that can be swayed.

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