Knock Every Door | Forum

Charlie DeLacey
Charlie DeLacey Oct 21 '17
from the website What is #KnockEveryDoor?

#KnockEveryDoor is an organization created by and for volunteers. We recruit, connect and train volunteers to go out in communities across the country and start conversations about the progressive change our country needs. These canvasses can focus on a progressive candidate, policy, or organization, or may simply be about starting the hard work of listening to what our neighbors who don’t always vote with us have to say about politics.

We believe that it’s time we start talking with everybody. Many of us were surprised by the 2016 presidential election and have resolved to take action by talking with people who may not agree with us or just have a very different experience in their day to day lives that we’ve lost touch with. Others are die hard “field” volunteers who think that for too long the political establishment has favored spending resources on less effective broadcast television ads instead of investing in an infrastructure for going door to door and talking to voters at scale.

No matter what your motivation, the outcome of the election makes it pretty clear that people who care about economic and racial justice won’t be able to win elections unless we take the time to listen to voters who may not agree with us, and start the long hard work of persuading them to join our cause with civil conversations about what matters most in our lives.

#KnockEveryDoor is a volunteer-led organization created in the wake of the disastrous 2016 election. We help volunteers start door-to-door canvasses and get to work having the conversations necessary to build a majority of voters who will support economic and racial justice at election time. You can hold a #KnockEveryDoor canvass in your local community or travel to another district where your efforts can help flip or defend a key district. Sign up and invite your friends to get involved, too. We’ll follow up shortly with more details on how to host or join a canvass event in your community.

We were started by progressive populists who believe in racial justice who believe that the battle for our future will be won or lost on millions of doorsteps across the country. We also believe that the power of people talking to people in a fundamentally “little d” democratic way will pave the way to defeating Trumpism and electing people who will fight for our values. That’s why we’ve opened up the platform to anyone working for progressive change even if we may not agree with them on particular policies or candidates. We have faith that a majority of the country wants to elect people who will fight for economic and racial justice, but the corporate wing of the Democratic party has hindered our ability to organize the people to fight for these values.

#KnockEveryDoor’s mission is to create a nationwide community of activists to do exactly that. We aren’t waiting until the next election to get started doing the work that will win elections in 2018, 2020 and beyond. The work of taking back our democracy has to start now.

Our Team / Who We Are

Our core team came out of the Bernie Sanders campaign -- both volunteers and staffers. Some of us have been involved in politics for a long time, and some of us were brand new to this when we joined the Bernie campaign. The community quickly grew to include volunteers from the Clinton campaign, a host of local community groups, the volunteer team behind SwingLeft and a couple of excellent state Democratic parties.

What we have in common is our belief that grassroots organizing – thousands of volunteer organizers talking to their neighbors – is the best way to fix our country.

Launch organizers and advisors to #KnockEveryDoor include:

  • Becky Bond
  • Yong Jung Cho
  • Max Cotterill
  • Cole Edwards
  • Hannah Fertig
  • Sam Ghazey
  • Ceci Hall
  • Lynn Hua
  • Zack Malitz
  • Kenneth Pennington
  • Deborah Sagner
  • Lauren Scheiderer
  • Hector Sigala
  • Larry Stafford Jr.
  • Cesar Vargas

Frequently Asked QuestionsSo…what’s the plan?

In the 2016 election, Democrats failed to talk to enough voters to win (among other things). Since then, many of the post-mortem debates have revolved around whether Democrats should reach out to the white working-class voters who delivered the election to Trump or double down on the progressive base, particularly minority groups who have traditionally been disenfranchised.

Our answer to the question of which part of the American electorate we need to focus on talking to if we want to defeat Trump is simply: Yes! If we want to win, we need to talk to everyone, everywhere because we know that our values resonate with most people when we talk about what really matters in people’s lives.

We’re not the only ones talking about this. Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee and a candidate for governor of Florida in 2018, explains it best:

“What we have to do is convince them that voting for us will make a difference in our lives… Whether you are a working class white voter or a working class black voter or a working class Latino voter, if this economy isn’t working for you, you’re pissed off! We have to lean into that. This debate about whether we double down on our base or talk to working class white people is ridiculous. You have to go everywhere. We have to go everywhere and we have to talk to everybody.”1

We don’t just believe this is the way to go. Cutting-edge political science research has shown that face-to-face conversations are the most effective way to get voters to the polls. We also believe that face-to-face conversations are the key to rebuilding our democracy from the ground up. 
How do we make this happen? We get our friends together and go out and knock every door! In order to start the work of talking to voters, we’re asking people everywhere to launch door-to-door canvasses in their communities.

We’ll support people who decide to lead #KnockEveryDoor canvasses by providing them with training, one-on-one support from other volunteers, sample scripts and canvassing materials, and more. We do this through a combination of mostly consumer technology (conference calls, Slack channels, Google apps) and the willingness of amazing volunteers to help each other get to work. Plus, we’ll help connect local #KnockEveryDoor volunteers with one another so that they can get to work.

  1. Perry, Mitch. "At gathering of progressives in Tampa, Andrew Gillum says Democrats won't win in 2018 by being 'Republican lite'" Florida Politics, March 18, 2017.
What candidates or causes are we canvassing for?

You know your community better than we do, so we’re leaving it up to you to decide which progressive candidate, cause, issue, or organization you want to canvass for.

You can also simply go door-to-door having open-ended conversations with your neighbors where the goal is to understand how they’re thinking about politics in this moment.

We have several sample scripts to help you get started. You can use them as-is, customize them, or write your own. That said, if you participate in our data entry program, we require you to use one of our approved templates.

Are there candidates or causes #KnockEveryDoor won’t support?

Absolutely. Politics is about picking sides, and we know which one we’re on.

In general, here are our guidelines:

We will not support volunteers who want to canvass for Republicans..

We may pick sides in Democratic primaries. That would mean only helping volunteers who are canvassing for a particular candidate who runs on a platform of economic and racial justice or refusing to help volunteers who are canvassing for a candidate who doesn’t stand up for those same values.

In any case, when we’re forced to make decisions about blocking a candidate, group or issue on our platform, we’ll be transparent about what actions we decide to take.

That sounds like a lot of work. You must have a whole bunch of money and staff, right?

No, we have very little of either, but you don’t get a political revolution if you don’t ask for one! You might have canvassed for a campaign or candidate before, but this is going to be really different. We aren’t hiring a bunch of staff or opening offices – we’re counting on volunteers to take time out of their busy lives and dedicate their time and energy to making this happen.

That might sound crazy, but to those of us with recent memories of millions of people in every corner of the country getting to work as volunteers for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary and planning 700 women’s marches in 60 countries or starting up thousands of Indivisible chapters, we actually think it’s pretty grounded in reality.

This is a terrifying political moment, and we’ve been hearing from lots of people who have never been involved in politics before who want to get to work now. What we’ve been hearing from those people is that there aren’t enough meaningful opportunities to get involved locally in their communities. We’re trying to fill that gap.

Ok, so we’re going to talk to a bunch of people at their doors. What are we going to talk about?

Groundbreaking political science research suggests that long, open-ended conversations like these can actually change people’s minds. They’re also the best way we can think of to get a better understanding of why some Obama voters didn’t vote this year or flipped to Trump.

We want to understand people’s lived experience of elections and the consequences of policies on people’s lives. We also want to understand what motivates people to vote (or not vote). This will take longer, open-ended conversations where the people we’re canvassing do most of the talking.

That means asking a lot of questions, listening carefully to what we hear, recording as much information as we can in a survey form that we’ll provide, and being grateful to the people we talk to for their time – even if we disagree with what they say.

Our scripts are based on “deep canvassing” methodology piloted by the Leadership Lab of the Los Angeles LGBT Center. You can read more about our canvassing philosophy here.

I have other questions that aren’t answered here. How do I get in touch with you?

You can email us at

Charlie DeLacey
Charlie DeLacey Oct 21 '17
Getting Started with #KnockEveryDoor

Charlie DeLacey
Charlie DeLacey Oct 21 '17
#KnockEveryDoor founder, Becky Bond, on "Big Organizing"

Charlie DeLacey
Charlie DeLacey Oct 21 '17
How Does It Work?

Cutting edge political science research shows that canvassing is one of the most effective tactics in an activists’ arsenal (to read more about this, check out Deep Canvassing 101).

So why don’t more campaigns for candidates and issues canvass? To run an ad campaign you just need a bank account and a media consultant. To run a canvass you need staff, office space, voter lists, technology and more. It also takes time to get a canvass up and running and for volunteers or paid staff to get good at delivering. Canvassing needs to be managed. It costs money. Not every campaign can afford to run canvasses.

We hope to provide both new and seasoned grassroots activists with a quality canvassing training that will allow them to enhance their local power building around whichever issue or candidate of their choice.

#KnockEveryDoor serves as a nationwide hub for progressive canvassing training and deployment. That is, it will be a platform that individuals, groups, and campaigns alike can plug into to receive training and support for progressive volunteers who wish to canvass in their communities. While #KnockEveryDoor will focus on the mechanics of canvassing, not the campaign objective of the canvasser, there will be minimal restrictions on what volunteers may canvass for. For example, KED won’t support Republicans or, potentially, certain Democrats facing primary challenges.

#KnockEveryDoor will support volunteers in several ways:

First, we will train volunteers. Training resources will include a structured training pipeline of live calls and webinars, training guides, recorded videos, and volunteer-to-volunteer coaching calls.

Second, we will provide volunteers with materials, including template scripts, data entry sheets, sign-in sheets, field training and debrief agendas, etc.

Third, we will help volunteer teams do data entry for volunteers. If a canvasser sends us scanned copies of their data entry sheets, we will have a team of data entry volunteers enter them into a Google sheet. We will retain the data and also send the digitized data back to the volunteer.

Volunteers who don’t have a specific election or issue they wish to canvass on can use a listening script. Volunteers who want to work on an election happening in their community or a nearby community will have the option to use a fill-in-the-blank style voter ID or GOTV script. Volunteers may also canvass as part of an issue-specific advocacy campaign.

It’s up to volunteers to add specific candidates, districts, elections, or geographically-specific voting information to our templated #KnockEveryDoor scripts. Volunteers will be responsible for localizing the script they wish to use. #KnockEveryDoor isn’t currently supporting or opposing any particular federal, state, or local candidate, but instead we are providing materials for volunteers to support or oppose candidates of their choosing.

Volunteers may find #KnockEveryDoor through a variety of channels:

  • They may come in organically through the website.
  • A candidate may ask their volunteers to canvass via #KnockEveryDoor.
  • An IE may ask its volunteers to canvass via #KnockEveryDoor.
  • A partner organization that isn’t doing electoral work may ask its members to canvass via #KnockEveryDoor
An introduction to Deep Canvassing

An increasingly large body of political science research shows that the gold standard for moving a voter to the polls is a personal conversation between a volunteer and a voter.1 These conversations are the most powerful when they are in person, but they are also effective when a volunteer and a voter engage via the telephone. Peer-to-peer texting is another vehicle (though virtually untested for turn out effect) for personal back and forth conversations.

One of the highest impact and lowest cost strategies for building power in our communities and taking back our democracy is to radically increase the number of conversations between volunteers and voters. We’ll use these conversations at the door to engage people who are currently sitting out elections, to recruit the people who are already with us to volunteer, and to persuade people who supported Trump but have a shared interest in our agenda of racial and economic justice.

KnockEveryDoor’s canvassing methodology is based on the groundbreaking work of the Leadership LAB at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. There, Executive Director David Fleischer, collaborating with political scientists David Broockman and Josh Kalla and a host of staff and volunteers, have been working for years to iterate a model called “deep canvassing.”

This model encourages a freeform and reciprocal conversation between the volunteer canvasser and the voter. The canvassers’ role is primarily to listen, to build trust and then to have a respectful conversation about areas where both parties may disagree.

An excellent introduction to deep canvassing and the work of the Leadership LAB can be found in an April 2016 feature article in the New York Times Magazine:How Do You Change Voters’ Minds? Have a Conversation. To learn more read the Leadership Lab’s Deep Canvassing Primer. You can also go more in-depth on the science behind deep canvassing by reading the academic study referenced by the New York Times’ that was published by political scientists David Broockman and Josh Kalla in the peer-reviewed journal Science.

One of the challenges at #KnockEveryDoor is to take a traditional organizing practice that assumes volunteers can be extensively trained and managed by staff and translate it into a distributed organizing model. In a distributed organizing model, a sprawling crew of part time, sometimes, and one-time volunteers work across space and time and use consumer software platforms like Google apps, Maestro Conference Calling, Slack and Facebook to manage everything from canvassing logistics to training to research to tech development. It’s also volunteers who schedule, recruit for and manage in-person canvasses.

Without in-person, full-time, paid organizers running all aspects of the operation, we are piloting a canvass model that is lightweight, easier to learn via online training, and depends on peer-to-peer coaching, encouragement and knowledge sharing among volunteer hosts, canvassers and support team members. We’re literally iterating this model every day with a handful of full-time paid organizers working as peers with hundreds of volunteers to figure out what’s working, what’s not, and what needs to be added, subtracted or changed from our processes. Our organizing philosophy was outlined in the book Rules for Revolutionaries: How Big Organizing Can Change Everything which was co-authored by Becky Bond, one of the volunteer chief organizers at #KnockEveryDoor and featuring stories about several other co-founding staff and volunteers who worked together on the Bernie Sanders 2016 presidential campaign, including “Texas Zack” Malitz, Hannah Fertig, Lynn Hua, Sam Ghazey, Cole Edwards, Kenneth Pennington, Hector Sigala and Max Cotterill.

  DeepCanvassingPrimer.pdf (143Kb)