Knock Knock, Then What?Edit

Source: By Mark Montini from

Candidate: Door knocking tipsEdit

You have your walk list and brochure. You turn up the sidewalk. You reach out and ring the doorbell. The door opens. Your heart begins to pound. You're looking a voter straight in the eye.

What are you supposed to say now?

Believe it or not, that's one of the most common questions we get from candidates - experienced and inexperienced. They can get to the door with no problem at all. It's what they do after that that creates problems.

Rules to help decide what to say when you're at the door.

Rule #1: Listen, Don't TalkEdit

Alison Krauss sings, "You say it best, when you say nothing at all." That's great advice for political candidates.


When you get to a voter's door, every instinct you have will be telling you to do all the talking. Tell the voter who you are. Tell the voter what you've done. Tell the voter what you will do. Tell the voter how you'll do it. And on and on and on. That's the wrong approach when you're going door to door.

The less you say, the better.=Edit

Anyone who's studied sales knows that the more a potential customer talks, the more likely that customer is to make a purchase. The same is true in politics. The more the voter talks, the more likely it is they will vote for you.


You're running to "represent" the voters you meet. How can you represent them if you don't know what's on their minds?

Get the voter talking as soon as possible.Edit

"Hi, my name is Mark Rauterkus. I'm running for state senate in our district. I wanted to introduce myself and get your thoughts on how well you feel the state senate is doing its job and what areas you think need to be improved. Do you have a few minutes to share your thoughts?"

#2: Respond with QuestionsEdit

The best way to keep the voter talking is to respond to everything with a question. Think of it as if you're interviewing the voter.

For example, let's say you use the greeting outlined in Rule #1 and the voter tells you they are very concerned about the quality of the education their children are getting in public schools.

You could respond by saying something along the lines of:

"I'm not surprised to hear you say that. It seems to be a common concern among parents all over the district. Do you think it's a problem with the amount of money we're spending on education or do you think it's more of a problem with how the money is being spent?"

Another example would be:

"I'm not surprised to hear you say that. It seems to be a common concern among parents all over the district. What do you think are the biggest reasons for the problems you mentioned?"

Both of those responses acknowledge the voter's concern, but quickly put the ball back in the voter's court so they will begin talking again - and you can begin listening again.

#3: Take NotesEdit

Don't just stand there smiling while a voter is giving you his or her thoughts on the issues. There's no better way to communicate that you are simply going through the motions as a candidate and that you really don't care about the voter's opinions.

Take notes. It sends a clear signal that you are truly interested in what the voter has to say.

Not only is this a good communication technique, it's a good campaign technique as well. If your campaign is well organized, you should have a system in place to have the notes entered into your voter database. That way the next time you knock on the voter's door, you can refer back to your previous conversation(s).

Imagine the impact you'd have if the next time you met that voter at their door you started the conversation by saying:

"Hi Mr. Jones. I'm John Smith. You and I met a few months ago and you expressed some concerns about education. I just wanted to stop by and talk with you again to see how you think things are progressing in that area. Do you have a few minutes?"

#4: Leave - Don't Read - Your Leave BehindEdit

A "leave behind" is whatever piece(s) of literature you want to leave with the voter. In most cases, it's nothing more than a palm card or push card. The key is to actually "leave" it with the voter rather than reading it to the voter.

You don't want to spend the first 1/3 of your conversation listening and your last 2/3 reading or "telling". Continue to ask questions throughout the entire conversation and wrap up by saying something like:

"Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me about your concerns. I really appreciate your candor. I'd like to leave you with a brochure you can read when you have time. It has a little more information about me and my campaign. Please don't ever hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or other concerns."

Just leave the brochure with them. Fight the inclination to go through your brochure with the voter in order to point out all your positions on the issue(s) they care about.

#5: Ask for Their VoteEdit

Last, but certainly not least, you should always finish your conversation at the door by asking for the person's vote on Election Day. It's a simple rule, but is very easy to ignore or forget when you're going door to door.

Just make it a habit to end every conversation by saying, "Thanks again for your time. I hope I can count on your vote on Election Day."

Remember, the only time most voters will see you personally during the campaign is when you show up at their door. If their first and only impression is a bad one, you'll be hard pressed to win them over - regardless of how good your mail, radio, and phone programs are.

"You never get a second chance to make a first impression." These five rules will help make sure your first impression is a good impression when you go door to door.

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