The secret to winning campaigns? Knocking on doors. FiveThirtyEight.com has the gritty details. In short, researchers have shown that 12 successful face to face contacts lead to one additional vote for a candidate.
Let’s do a little math. 12 face-to-face contacts is one new voter who would not have otherwise voted that you personally generated. You just doubled your own vote by speaking at the door to twelve voters. Of course, then it comes down to contact rate — how often is the person home that you’re trying to reach. A very low contact rate is probably 10%, and that happens. A very high contact rate can be 50%. Average is in the 25% ballpark. On average, you’d have to knock on 48 doors to generate 12 face-to-face contacts and one additional vote. 48 doors is a pretty standard, approximate walk list.
So if you go out one four-hour walk shift every weekend between now and the election, you’ve generated — on average — six extra votes from people who would not otherwise have voted for your candidate.
That makes me feel guilty for not having knocked on any doors during this election. It sort of makes you wonder what would happen if every hour spent reading political blogs were instead spent volunteering for a campaign.