Phone banking is a critical part of political campaigning. But it must be done properly if you want it to have a positive impact on your campaign.
Phone banking is a type of voter contact, much like door-to-door canvassing, except it’s conducted over the phone. Generally speaking, there are three main types of phone banking, each with its own unique goal and script:
1) Voter identification: identifying where voters stand on certain issues or whether they support your candidate.
2) Persuasion: convincing voters to support your candidate, volunteer, or donate to your campaign.
3) GOTV (get out the vote) – reminding voters when and where to vote, generally on Election Day or the immediate days leading up to it.
As you start phone banking, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Check with state, local and federal laws
Certain laws dictate how you contact voters by phone and obtain their information. This is especially important if you hoped to use an auto-dialing tool (i.e. robo-dialers) to make calls for you, as such tools may be illegal in some areas. Check with your board of elections or an experienced election lawyer.
Get the right lists
Spend your phone-banking time wisely. Make sure you’re only calling people who are eligible to vote for you in the upcoming election. For example, if you’re running as a Democrat for a state congressional seat during a primary election, then you shouldn’t be calling Republicans, as they can’t vote for you in the primary. Check with your political party to obtain up-to-date data on registered voters who can vote for you.
No matter what the goal of your phone banking – ID, persuasion or GOTV – it’s important to maintain a friendly, courteous attitude, even if the call goes bad. Here’s a little trick: smile. Smiling while making each phone call is a proven way of maintaining a soft, friendly voice, which builds instant trust with the voters.
Listen to voters – don’t talk over them
When a voter speaks, be quiet. Wait a solid 2 seconds after they finish speaking before responding, so you don’t talk over them or make them feel rushed. This is important whether you’re asking for their stances on hot-button issues or doing fundraising to collect donations on your website. You must give them a chance to speak if you want them to feel heard.
Use technology to your advantage
If you have several staff or volunteers making calls for you, consider using a centralized, cloud-based system that updates your data in real time as each call is made. This will ensure your voter data is always up to date and that the same voters aren’t repeatedly called.
Thank voters for their time
You must leave a positive impression on every voter, even those who refuse to speak with you (which may sometimes be the majority of the people you call). Their time is valuable — thank them for it.