Canvass report from Pennsylvania

Kevin T. Keith has an interesting story of door-knocking for Kerry in Pennsylvania. It’s worth a read, especially if you plan on volunteering or organizing volunteers this year.

One thing I’d like to comment on:

Since we were working off Kerry-centric voter lists, it didn’t surprise me that a large majority of the people we spoke to said they were for Kerry. What surprised me is that almost all of them said they were very strongly committed in their positions – both the Kerry supporters and the few Bush supporters. Over the whole afternoon, only a few people said they were uncommitted or even lukewarm.

This caused me to question the effectiveness of what we were doing. I’ve already noted that nobody wanted to talk about issues. It also seemed that nobody even needed any encouragement to make up their minds. About all we were really accomplishing was letting people know that the campaign cared about their votes. Even the potential absentee voters had all, uniformly, already sent in their absentee ballot applications. Since I have never done this before, I don’t know if this represents a higher-than-normal level of voter involvement. At any rate, it did mean that, this year at least, the voters seem to need little encouragement to make their voices heard. Even the few young, first-time voters we spoke to – a group notoriously uninvolved in elections – were all well on top of things and seemed energized.

I’ve not done any blockwalking like this, but I did do some phonebanking in 2002. My experience, in terms of level of commitment from the targeted (friendly) audience, was similar. Make of that what you will.

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