WHAT IS DEEP CANVASSING
A conventional canvass relies on brief exchanges focused on like-minded voters. In contrast, deep canvassing invites voters into a conversation that leads to a mutual understanding. A deep canvasser strives to get the voter to consider political alternatives. The goal is to get voters to see gaps between the assumptions underlying their opinions and their lived experiences.
Deep Canvassing is a method to elicit emotionally significant experiences and encourage reflection. Therefore, canvassers use active listening to make voters feel comfortable stating their views and beliefs and personal stories to provide alternative perspectives. As a result, two people with differing views can still find common ground. No yelling, no blaming. In the course of 10 to 20 minutes a lot can happen.
Finally, in most elections voters are barraged with impersonal tactics – one-way communications that try to tell them how to think. These messages often fail to sway voters’ behavior. A deep canvass may be the first time a voter has a two-way conversation about issues and experiences, with someone of a different political persuasion. Research indicates this approach can have a lasting impact on voters and campaigns.
Based on deep canvassing studies and evidence from CTC’s own canvasses, we estimate our volunteers will persuade one out of ten swing voters to choose the Democratic candidate. And by building a corps of deep canvassers, we are focusing some of the new activist energy to play a decisive role in flipping competitive districts.
In addition, deep canvassing is a potent antidote for the polarization that is defeating progressive policies and poisoning American politics. Beyond affecting the next two election cycles, deep canvassing can help pull voters together to find a shared way forward.