Howard County Democratic Party chair Laura Hubka shares wisdom gained from knocking thousands of doors as a superstar volunteer in northeast Iowa and former candidate for the state legislature. -promoted by desmoinesdem
I was not always into politics and even though I was a “talker” in elementary school, I really was never into starting conversations, especially about politics, with anyone I did not know. In the last 8 years or so I have changed. Knocking doors and talking about local, state and national candidates are part of my life now on a regular basis. I have actually come to enjoy it. I understand how it can be scary and intimidating at times, but I also know the joy of having a great one on one conversation with my fellow Iowans. Here are some of my tips to those who want to put their boots on the ground and make a real difference.
1: Attitude really is everything. If you are new, then embrace that! Tell people why you feel compelled to do this, why you are speaking out and taking time out of the last waning days of summer and fall to walk around the blocks and tell people about the candidates. Let them know you are nervous but feel this is something you needed to do! well, because it is, because you are there! Right?
2: Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. No one expects to see someone dressed in church clothes and honestly no one wants to. In fact you may get LESS door openings if you are dressed up. Be comfy, if you are from that town then wear the school colors or t-shirt/hoodie.
3: Be prepared to have a low percentage of actual door contacts. It’s ok! People are not home, they don’t open the door or they just do not want to hear what you have to say. Its ok! You are not alone. I think in majority, if I got a 45% contact rate on any given day I was ecstatic!
4: Why are you supporting your candidates? You do not have to know EVERYTHING about the people you are knocking doors for but you have to know why YOU support them. Maybe it is your senate candidates stance on education. Then talk about that! If you can see that there are signs that children live there then talk about how you want all IOWA children to have access to good, fair and FUNDED education! If you have stories to share, then do it!
5: SMILE! if the person opens the door and acts like they are put off then often times I start out with saying “I’m sorry for interrupting your day. Can I have just 2 minutes of your time for something that is important to me”? “I will stop if you have heard enough, I promise”.
6: Remind them that you are a neighbor or fellow Iowan. Your not from out of the state, you are not getting paid. You really are a concerned citizen. Talk about the town if you are from there, maybe where you work or your kids and their school. like, “Hi, I am Laura, I live in Riceville and I am taking some of my time today knocking on doors today for Mary Jo Wilhelm. She is our senator and I am proud of the things she has done to try to fund education and keep the water clean for our kids”. “I want her to stay right where she is in the Senate”. “do you know much about her”?
7: Just be HONEST! if you do not know something about your candidate then say you do not know. DO NOT go on the fly and say what “you think”. This gets all sorts of people in trouble. Take a pad of paper and a pen along to write down questions for your local candidates and make sure you pass them on to their field directors. Let the people know that you can not guarantee that the candidate will get back to them personally but that their campaign will get the note. If it is something that you feel needs immediate attention then call the field director and get direction (barring medical emergencies…then its 911 of course. HA)
8: Get to know the town: I have taken pictures of towns I never got to actually stop in before, finding treasures along the way. A tiny train in Toeterville and a miniature Statue of Liberty in another town! If you have a day’s notice then look it up and use the time to see these places. This is our state and it has so much to offer!
9: Notice landscaping and other mentionable parts of the persons house and yard. They do not spend all that time and money on “curb appeal” for nothing. I love flowers and I always comment on gardens and landscaping. I know how much time is put into that kind of stuff and people LOVE to hear about it!
10: Just relax! Not everyone is going to be happy you are there let alone even slightly enthused. It’s your smile and your sense of civic duty that can at least make them listen. We are there to “plant seeds” as the story goes. Not all of them will grow, but some will!
11: Do what you can and do not feel bullied into doing more than you can. Its door after door of rejection and then that ONE door of happy “glad you’re here” and stories of LBJ and Kennedy that get you going. The little lady that never thought she would vote for a black president let alone a woman president! The shining star in an otherwise boring or mediocre day!
12: Be proud of yourself! You are doing what MOST people will not do, but so many more should do. If you made it this far I am proud of you!
13: WRITE LEGIBLY! if you have paper lists then get a clipboard and circle things as correctly as you can, write notes where they can be read. Do not get your pages out of order. There is a poor soul that will be entering data and when they get 50 lists in that are wrinkled, torn, scribbled on and spilled on, it is not a happy time. Data entry is a sad sad thing and we should all be happy that there are people who do it, often against their will. Lets not make it anymore of a chore!
14: LOVE your field director! These people are here for a job, they are working day and night. Your one list is just that ONE of so many! Try to do your best and get what needs to get done, done. TURN in your list or if using the wonderful, lifesaving MINIVAN then make sure you SAVE the list! They depend on you and everyone else.
15: COME BACK and do it again. Do not make one time your only time. It is just not enough. Come back and bring friends, if they need to go with you first, that is ok. But encourage them that so much more can get done with more people doing the job. Let them know you are not crazy and that, maybe, just maybe, it was fun and/or enlightening. Stories to share forever!!