Targeting and Voter Contact: Voter Contact

The most effective voter contact method is always that which allows the candidate to reach voters in the most personal and interactive way possible - that should be the driving force behind your voter contact program and your campaign plan and budget as a whole.

Door Knocking

These are door-to-door visits by you and your volunteers and/or paid canvassers. This is the most personal way to reach voters, but is also the most time consuming. A good goal is to make a personal visit to the door of every targeted voter in your district (or at least every voter that falls into the categories noted specifically for persuasion). State and local candidates should plan to spend at least 2-3 hours per day knocking on doors themselves (often more). Targeting data will help you prioritize your door-to-door visits. Begin in areas where you need to increase Democratic performance and spend the final weeks in areas where you need to increase turnout.

When sending out volunteers for canvassing, make sure they are fully trained and provided with talking points. Give them “walk packets” prepared by staff that includes: Highlighted map of the neighborhood, list of specific homes on each street that need to be visited, campaign literature for every home, and general instruction sheet should questions arise.

Assign campaign IDs to each voter after speaking with them, indicating whether or not they intend to vote and who they plan to vote for. Use this information to enhance your voter file, hone the general targeting matrix, and save the campaign time and money during GOTV efforts.

Calculate how many doors per day will need to be knocked on over the course of the campaign to ensure that every voter you are trying to persuade is contacted at least once.

Direct Mail

This is equally as important as door knocking in reaching your voters. The production and postage costs will make up a significant portion of the campaign budget. Aim to reach targeted voters as often and with as targeted a message as possible. Conduct additional analysis on voters using voter file enhancements to determine which message will be most effective with each group of voters. Send these groups specific literature highlighting the issues important to their demographic. Everyone should receive a bio piece, contrast piece featuring the records of you and your opponent, GOTV piece, and an absentee ballot piece. Reach your targeted universe at least six times with persuasion mail in the months leading up to Election Day.


Calls are made by volunteers and focus on the same universe of voters dominating your walk schedule and direct mail efforts. They require an organized operation utilizing a large number of trained volunteers, phones, and current well-developed scripts. Make calls during the final two months of the campaign. Asses the total number of phones and volunteers you need in order to reach your targeted universe in the time allotted. Provide callers with a detailed script. Add data from voter responses to the voter file to hone the GOTV universe.