Project Wonderful

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ask An Election Nerd: How Can I Canvass During Football Games

Today's question comes from my tumblr, but I have received similar questions from various sources lately.


I work in a Midwestern state where everyone is obsessed with football. (You can probably guess which one :) ) I've seen people submit posts making fun of candidates or County Chairs who don't want to do voter contact on game days, but seriously it is insane. Everyone is drunk and our contact rate is like 1/2 what it normally is. You seem to be in favor of doing it anyway. Any advice for making it work?



Okay so first of all, thanks to whoever submitted this for giving me an excuse to dig up that picture. It is of my adorable intern in 2007 talking to my candidate's daughter at a University of Iowa homecoming game. Bad idea. The first rule of campaigning during football season is never try to actually campaign/register voters/do anything but just hang out at a game. People are drunk and uninterested. You will get a lot of people yelling at you and you will waste your entire afternoon.

On top of that, I do have some advice for what you should do.

1)Suck it up. I know this sounds harsh, but if the following pieces of advice don't work for you, you may just have to deal with it. We all have crappy canvasses and phone banks. With three months left there aren't that many more times you'll have to combat this phenomenon. Better to canvass and have a 10% contact rate than none at all. That said, there's an argument to be made here for efficiency, so depending on the scope of your race, I have a few more suggestions.

2)Make it up. If you maintain that you absolutely can't call or canvass during a game, then you have to find a way to make it up before or after. If a game starts at 3:30 on a Sunday and lasts for approximately three hours, you can still canvass from 10-3 and call from 6-9. That leaves about three hours of voter contact to make up during the week, which you can do by starting call time an hour earlier or adding a senior phone bank.

3)Switch it up. If you work on a statewide campaign where athletic allegiances are regional, consider trading voter contact hours with another region. For example, if you work in a college town, try canvassing in turf that's an hour away on Sunday in exchange for those organizers coming to your neck of the woods for a Saturday canvass.

4)Change it up. You can be strategic in your choice of a game day universe. Game time is a good time to focus your efforts on volunteer recruitment since supporters and volunteers are more likely than the general population to be kind and receptive to your calls. In addition, you can target your voter contact toward groups that are less likely to be absorbed in the game. Rather than incriminate myself with stereotypes, I'm going to share this article on football viewing demographics. You should be able to find more specifics for your particular sport/team.

Hope this helps and that you are able to find a way to enjoy your game day canvass!



  1. Nancy, I'm pretty sure we're going to have to have words about which intern who's picture you chose.

    Just FYI. You know.

  2. That is just what I found a picture of Junt. Next time it's you, I swear!

  3. One of my proudest moments working on a campaign was convincing about 10 people to make calls during overtime of game 7 of a playoff game. At first we got a lot of pushback but we explained that the election was in less than a week, more people would be home and calls would be move along faster than normal. We agreed that if we had 5 callers get really offended about us calling during the game we could stop. I think at like 8:55, as a joke, we told a couple of our vols to say people were complaining so we could leave.

    To make a game out of it, we told our vols we would give them updates on the score anytime someone got a donation or a volunteer and
    We were able to call all night.

  4. Very interesting! Thanks for sharing!