Canvassing Wins Political Races

Walk The Walk, Talk The Talk

It’s GO time for every candidate, three weeks out from election day and every voter contact can be a vote for you.  This week, we are going to focus on good old-fashioned canvassing.  That’s right, get your walking shoes on, your bottle of water and your walking list…it’s time to hit the streets!

handraiser iphoneCanvassing is as old as campaigning and is very effective.  Matter of fact, most candidates don’t do it enough.  Voters will remember the candidate more if they have personal contact with the campaign whether it’s the candidate or a volunteer. Your candidate or cause will have a higher probability of winning if you outwork your candidate.

There are some basic tactics to use when canvassing to improve your chances of talking with voters.

  1. A good walking list is imperative. This is where your voter file comes in handy. At Handraiser, we even load this into an app so it easier to track supporters, supports or opponents, not home, moved, etc. Maximize the time you spend canvassing by working smart. Written sheets or even spreadsheets are ineffective and archaic.
  2. Knock on EVERY door, even if it looks like they aren’t at home. Once you knock or ring the door bell, wait 45-60 seconds and take a big step back to give the resident personal space. The average for doors being answered is 30% so don’t get discouraged, just keep moving on to the next door.  Leave information in the door but never in their mailbox (that is illegal – only the postman can leave information in the mailbox.) Spend no more than five minutes per door.  You are trying to reach as many voters as possible and still provide great information.
  3. Three points! Be ready to talk about your three main campaign points. Be able to answer why they would vote for your candidate, what will they get if your candidate wins and be prepared to concisely review the three main campaign points.
  4. Pay attention to neighborhood demographics. People are more at ease if they are talking to their peers, similar age and gender. Go in pairs, ideally a man and a woman.
  5. Water, snacks and dog treats are all important to take with you. It’s important to stay hydrated, particularly since you’ll be talking a lot. If you wear sunglasses, be sure to remove them before knocking on the door.
  6. When someone does answer the door follow your script and deliver the three main points of the candidate or cause. Your goal is to get a verbal commitment from them and they will vote for the candidate or issue you are canvassing about.
  7. SMILE and be polite if they don’t agree with your candidate or cause.
  8. Record every stop. Did someone answer, did you talk with the voter? A different voter? Do they support your cause? Do they support the opponent? Can they get to the polls? Do they need a ride?

It’s important to know the outcome of each door canvassed, particularly for election day. Handraiser can track a lot of information when canvassing.  One of the most important things to track is if the voter supports the candidate or if they are indifferent.  This will give you the opportunity to canvass them on election day if you receive real-time voter updates from the polls (which Handraiser can track as well.)

Here’s a one-minute video on how to use technology to canvass.


Would you like to see a demo of how Handraiser’s canvassing app can help you win your election? Click here to schedule a time or send us a note.


Five Elements Every Campaign Website Needs

You’ve made the decision to run for office.  You’ve registered as a candidate. How are you going to engage with your voters?  Of course, social media plays a big part, but, not everyone is on Facebook or Twitter.  You should definitely have a website to educate your voters, collect donations and to recruit volunteers.

Shane Daley of Online Candidate gave us some great tips on what should be on your website.  Shane and his partners have been designing websites for 14 years and have designed over 2,000 websites for political candidates.  We had the honor of talking with Shane about his vast experience with regard to what works for candidate websites.

Shane was kind enough to share five major tips on website elements for candidates.

First and foremost:

  1. Begin with social media

Starting to build an audience before you have a campaign website. Many successful candidates begin their online campaign long before they announce their intention to run for office.

Social connections can help build relationships and get yourself better known. The earlier you start this, the more time you can use to build online support. Ultimately, those social followers will be the first to know about your campaign and be more likely support you with initial donations of time and money.

  1. Start your website early

Putting up a website and slapping on a donation button a few weeks before Election Day is not a winning tactic. It takes time and effort to build support.

Starting a political campaign website as early as possible provides more time to raise campaign seed money. A website set up for early donations makes it easier for initial donors. Someone is more likely to quickly click and donate than to write out a check, put it in an envelope, and mail it out.

Finally, Google does not tend to ‘rank’ new, unknown websites. To get a site to show on Google takes both time and the existence of links from other sites pointing to the website. If you want voters to find you through search engines, you need to take control over what exists about you online.

  1. Your domain name is important

Every campaign website needs a domain name. Most candidates use their name, often with a variant of ‘vote’ or ‘elect’, such as or The .com extension is your best bet. Avoid using a year or position title in name if you plan to keep the domain throughout your political career.

Unless your own campaign is high-profile or particularly contentious, it doesn’t make sense to register every available domain extension and variant.

Think for the long term. Remember that you are renting your name from the registrar company for as many years as you pay for it. If you stop paying your domain registration fees, anyone else can step in, register that name and point it to another website. That happens often, sometimes with embarrassing results.

  1. A little SEO goes a long way

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a way of building your website pages to make them more attractive to search engines and have them rank higher for related searches.

A search engine cannot know what a web page is about if there isn’t enough relevant text on the page. We often see local campaign websites say ‘Candidate X for Mayor’, but don’t actually mention the state that the municipality is located in. If you are running for office in Montgomery, is that Montgomery, New York or Montgomery, Alabama? Don’t leave it to chance.

Some candidates like to write website copy in the first person. A search engine doesn’t know who “I” is. It’s better to write the website copy in third person and include the candidate’s full name.

  1. Use your site as a campaign hub

Running your online presence from a Facebook page is possible, but not everyone is on social media and not everyone wants to join. Putting up digital barriers only excludes voters and potential supporters.

The campaign website is critical as a central place to reference in your online and offline advertising. A website lends credibility to a candidate or organization. Many people will not donate through a Facebook post or a Twitter link. A campaign site provides a fixed place to send donors and provide information to supporters and voters.

A few other key points with regard to your campaign website is to start early.  Candidates now start about a year prior to their campaign, remember, it takes time for SEO to work and it gives you time to recruit supporters and endorsements.

Make sure your website is responsive.  A responsive website will automatically size to the screen size.  For example, your website will automatically scale to a smart phone, tablet or website, which is what you want.

Keep your website after your campaign is over and your domain.  Domain’s are about $12/year so a $1/month is worth keeping your domain name.

Getting your message out to your voters is key and having a website is a very effective tool in campaigning, without it, your constituents won’t have a place to get informed about your message, donate or volunteer in one central place.

Shane Daley is a partner of Daley Professional Web Solutions and Online Candidate. He has over 15 years of experience as a web developer, with a focus on search engine optimization and online marketing.

Online Candidate provides political candidates and organization with affordable campaign website packages. The platform, built-in tools and resources helps hundreds of candidates every election cycle.

Schedule your live Handrasier demo today to see how we can help you win your election.




Top Political Consultant Shares Five Proven Steps To Win Your Election

Top Political Consultant Shares Five Proven Steps To Win Your Election

Running for local office can be daunting and overwhelming.  After you register to run for school board, city council or mayor then what? Do you tell all of your friends your running (yes, of course), do you buy yard signs (maybe) or do you put on a spaghetti dinner (probably not)?  But, how do you know what are the most effective steps and where to spend your time?

We sat down with political consultant and author of “How To Launch A Great Campaign…And WIN”, Phil Van Treuren, to find out what are the five areas you should focus on to win your local election.

Phil ran for City Council in Amherst, Ohio after he finished Officer Candidate School in the Army National Guard and won on his first try.  Not only that but he was the top vote-getter in the election.  He focused on these steps and it worked out for him.  He has also used the same strategy as a political consultant for over ten years with great success, Phil knows a thing or two about winning elections.

I asked Phil what it’s like running for local office. Read on to see the steps that are vital to execute in a campaign.


“It’s a very lonely enterprise, you have to expect you will do the vast majority of work yourself. You never get as much financial and volunteer support as you think you will.”





  1. Candidates have to be willing to put in a lot of their own time and money into the race.

That’s really important to know if you are expecting 20 of your closest friends and family to help and only three do, that significantly impacts the reach you can have.

  1. You need to personalize your campaign.

What used to work doesn’t work anymore – yard signs, spaghetti dinners and billboards don’t work as well, mostly because of the digital age.  If you take advantage of new tactics, software, Facebook ads and emails to voters you will be ahead of the game.  

You can easily personalize emails and ads but more importantly, you can see the interaction of digital campaigning that can direct how, when and where you campaign.  Meet voters in person. Door knock, personally drop mail, do it multiple times to your core voters.  Knowing who those voters are is integral so you can personalize your campaign.

As the old saying goes, “knowledge is power” and campaigning is no different.  Know your voters, win the race.

  1. You have to tell your own story…WHY are you running, what value will people voting for you get when you’re elected.  

You need to have three primary points you hammer home.  Tell them about yourself, about your life and why you believe what you do. Voters don’t care about your resume, voters want to relate to you on their own level – story points, family, hobbies, military service, etc. – focus on three and hammer them home.

  1. Provide value to the voters.

Keep in mind whatever you offer should be something that you love or enjoy, the sincerity will come shining through.

If you have a strong sense of community, deliver American flags or go door to door handing out large postcards with a flag on it so people can put it in their windows. Every time they see that they will think of you and your commitment to your community.  

If you love to cook, provide a family recipe with a picture of you cooking with your family.

Do you have a hobby you love like building ships in bottles? Show that too and tie it to how you will use that when you are elected.  “Building ships in bottles requires patience and attention to detail. I will use these skills when I’m elected to office.”

  1. Don’t do stuff that makes you feel good, do stuff that works.  

Feel good campaigning is a big danger for first-time candidates. By buying billboards, radio ads, newspaper ads, you are wasting 95% of your budget on things that make YOU feel good.  Focus on steps that work, having a compelling reason as to why you are running, what value will your voters get when you win, get personal and get to know them.  Seeing your picture plastered on a billboard doesn’t guarantee the right audience will see your billboard, it just guarantees you will spend a lot of money on something that doesn’t work.

Here’s a bonus for you, Phil also shared some other quick insights.  

Facebook is undoubtedly the best thing that has ever happened to political campaigning, ever.  You can target people based on location, demographics, interests, etc. to make sure you’re reaching the right audience.

Having a good voter list and knowing who your voters are is vital.  (You can get this list from your local electoral office.)

“Campaign software is an incredible tool in your arsenal.”  He had to put together his own spreadsheets to track voters, canvassing, calls, etc..

“Having a good tracking system to track who you talked to, what you talked about and who you should talk to next is invaluable.”

Phil’s parting words deserve repeating, “Prepare yourself, decide you’re going to do it and work as hard as you can at it.”

Phil Van Treuen is a political consultant, blogger and author.  You can visit his website at and find him on Facebook at

To see how Handraiser political campaign software can help you win your next election schedule a live demo here.