Election season is in full swing! So for this month’s newsletter, I wanted to write to you about a subject that’s very close to my heart: doing voter contact when you’re an introvert.
If you’ve met me or seen me speak, you’ve probably noticed that I’m a shy person. Back when Indivisible went viral in 2017, I was terrified of public speaking (sometimes I still am). I’m an open introvert. I’m happiest at home with a book.
But I LOVE voter contact. I’ve been canvassing since I was fourteen. I logged 25,000 steps a day for Hillary in Philly in 2016. I hopped on Indivisible’s phonebanking system to call voters while I was taking care of my newborn in 2020. And this year, I just got back from knocking doors along with southern California Indivisibles for two key House races.
Here are the three reasons why I, as an introvert, love voter contact (and you will too):
- When I do voter contact, I’m on a mission. If you drop me into a party where I don’t know anyone and ask me to mingle for an hour, I’m going to run away. But if you hand me a walksheet and tell me to go knock on the doors of thirty low-propensity Democratic voters, I’m in. What’s the difference? With voter contact, I’m not just having idle social interactions. I’ve got a job. I’ve been trained up to do my job. And I can make it into a game. How many doors can I hit? Can I have at least three good conversations, the kind that seem like they really might make the difference, in a shift? That’s when things get fun.
- Voters are interesting and I learn stuff from talking to them. Real people — their life stories, their ideas, their decisions — are so much more fascinating than the caricatures we often reduce them to in politics. When you have a conversation with a voter, you’re watching in real time as they grapple with competing needs, pressures, hopes and fears — often in ways that will surprise you. Connecting to other humans, and fully appreciating how weird and complicated and delightful they are, is really rewarding. And you don’t need to be a charismatic social butterfly to do it well — you just need to be curious, empathetic, and a good listener. (We introverts are great at that!)What’s more, talking to voters gives you the chance to test your own approaches, to see for yourself what works and what doesn’t. You might be out there trying to persuade people, or to get out the vote — but at the same time, you’re learning yourself.
- Nothing breaks the cycle of election anxiety like doing the work. If you’re a politically engaged person (and you’re on this list, so you probably are), you’re probably in an increasingly nervous state right now. You know that this election is do-or-die for democracy. You’re following the polls. You’re doom-scrolling through updates on social media. You’re bouncing between a confusing combination of hope, fear, and helplessness.Voter contact is the cure. When you’re talking to a voter, you’re not on the sidelines anymore — you’re taking action. And the data is really clear: having conversations directly with voters is the single best and most important thing you as a volunteer can do to win an election. Taking action will make you feel powerful, connected, and like part of the solution. It’s kind of like going to the gym — you know you’re going to feel better afterwards (and hey, if you canvass, you also do enough walking that you get to skip the gym!).
That may all sound nice, but I know canvassing and phonebanking can still feel intimidating.
So, here are a few top tips for those of us who want to do the work, but still find it hard:
- Find the activity that works best for you. If you want to be outdoors, getting exercise, and having face to face conversations, canvass! If you’d rather do stuff in your own house, in your spare time in the evenings, go with phonebanking. And if you’d feel more comfortable having longer, deeper 1:1 conversations about an issue instead of trying to reach as many voters as possible, check our our deep canvassing phonebanks, where we call independents and Republican-leaning pro-choice voters in swing states to talk about abortion.
- Check out our prep resources and trainings. We heard from Indivisibles nationwide that there was demand for strategic messaging guidance and talking points, and we’ve got you covered. We’re partnering with the Protect Our Freedoms coalition to distribute shared strategic messaging and intel on the state of the midterms — you can join our regular, weekly Messaging to Win in 2022 calls on Mondays at 4pm ET/1pm PT. And we’re producing regular resources, called Indivisible Unpacked to provide messaging guidance and talking points for some of the biggest and most important issues of this cycle. With all that said…
- Remember that you don’t need to be an expert to be convincing. I used to be scared that a voter would stump me with a question about the candidate that I wasn’t prepared for. That was silly! When you’re volunteering, you don’t need to have memorized your candidate’s full biography and issue page to be a persuasive ambassador for them. The biggest endorsement you can offer for your candidate is that you’re giving up your own free time to put them in office. You have legitimacy precisely because you’re not a political hack — you’re a regular person who cares about this. Feel good about that.
- Make it a shared activity. If you’re canvassing and nervous about being on your own, bring a friend (or connect with your local Indivisible group and go together!). They can hit houses with you, or you can split up your list and compare notes. If you’re phonebanking, join one of our phonebanks so that you can chat with fellow phonebankers, share stories, and get your questions answered in real time.
- Report out! Like a lot of shy folks, I find it easier to write a social media post than to strike up a conversation with a stranger. And when you’re doing voter contact, you should absolutely share it with your own network — because you want as many people as possible thinking about the election, and you want as many people as possible to get involved. Social media helps create that “everyone is doing it” echo chamber that recruits the next wave of volunteers. Take pictures, tag us, and we’ll amplify!
If you’re convinced, here’s a few ways to get involved:
- Sign up for Give No Ground to get the most up-to-date information on our phonebanking, textbanking, postcarding, canvassing, and all of our efforts to win Nov 8.
- RSVP for our national Phonebank for Mark Kelly and Jevin Hodge on Tuesday, October 11 at 6pm ET/3pm PT. Last week, an Arizona judge ruled that an abortion law dating back to 1864 should be enforced, effectively banning nearly all abortion across the state. Mark Kelly and Jevin Hodge are on the front lines of the fight to protect the right to choose in Arizona and they need our help.
- Sign up for Using Artistic Activism to Win in November and beyond on Thursday, October 13 at 7:30pm ET/4:30pm PT. Join Indivisible and the Center for Artistic Activism to learn how to bring creativity and innovation to your Indivisible work. We’ll inspire with the best artistic activism examples; drill down to the details of the key components of building an enduring creative campaign; share insights from decades we’ve spent designing engaging, life-changing actions; and leave with wild new ideas to make sure we Give No Ground this midterm election season — and beyond.
- Join us for Indivisible’s Phonebank for Jamie Mcleod-Skinner on Sunday, October 16 at 5pm ET/2pm PT. Jamie is an incredible rural advocate in Oregon who beat Kurt Schrader in the primary — a conservative who blocked action on climate change and took over $600,000 from Big Pharma. Now she faces MAGA Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer in the general who has dog-whistled support of election denial and supports a near-total abortion ban, dial-in to Oregon to support a true progressive.
- Register for our Deep Canvassing Phonebank for conflicted Pro-Choice voters on Tuesday, October 18 at 5pm ET/2pm PT. Following the MAGA Supreme Court’s reversal of 50 years of legal precedent protecting the right to choose, Americans across the country have been organizing to preserve bodily autonomy. Deep canvassing is a proven technique to motivate voters who are conflicted or unmotivated to act. Join us in our efforts to restore the right to choose for all Americans (Bonus: This phonebank involves a 1hr training beforehand — if you’re an introvert like me and want to feel fully briefed before you begin, this is a great opportunity.)
- Join Indivisible and partner organizations in the Protect Our Freedoms coalition on Mondays at 4pm ET/1pm PT for our Messaging to Win in 2022 briefings. In these sessions we’ll cover the latest intel on key battleground races and share tested messaging on what it will take to protect our freedoms. We’ll present up-to-date research into attitudes of key voting segments, as well as talking points, messaging, and calls to action to mobilize our base to the polls and swing conflicted voters to our side. If you want to feel more prepared to talk to voters, this is the place for you.
Whatever you do, pick something. We’ve only got 36 days left until the election, and vote-by-mail is already beginning — so if you haven’t chosen a race or a way to get involved yet, this is absolutely the time.
On November 9th, we’ll either have a bigger Democratic trifecta — one that can guarantee voting rights and democracy reform, codify Roe, and pass a bold Democratic care agenda — or we’ll have Republican election deniers and insurrectionists sweeping into office nationwide. The stakes are high — and you’ll want to know that you did everything you could to protect our freedoms and our democracy.
Have you been out contacting voters already this cycle? What tips would you give a volunteer new to voter contact? Have you got a great story about doing voter contact, or a great conversation you had? Reply to this e-mail to let us know. We’d love to get enough tips to compile an “Indivisible Activists’ Tips and Stories For Voter Contact” email!
Now let’s go find some voters,
Co-Executive Director, Indivisible
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