The secret to gaining useful and reliable canvass information is understanding exactly what the different sections on the canvass card mean. These are very often misunderstood.
Definite Lib Dem
Someone who is a Lib Dem supporter and will definitely vote on polling day. When you knock on their door if they instantly and without hesitation say that they are supporters and will be voting.
You should always offer them a window poster, and ask if they would mind a stakeboard poster in their garden or if they could spare any time to help the party, maybe to deliver their street.
Probable Lib Dem
Someone who is a Lib Dem supporter and who will probably vote on polling day. Similar to above but less enthusiastic. Offer them a window poster, if they take it this shows further commitment and they should be put down as a definite. To further clarify ask who they voted for last time? If they voted for a different party last time put them down as a soft voter of that party (i.e. if they voted conservative put down as soft conservative).
Probables are not people you’ve managed to convert on the doorstep or who are considering voting for us. Those people are soft Con or soft Lab etc. Probables already support us but who will need to be knocked up on polling day to be reminded to vote.
If in any doubt put them down as soft con/lab so that they get the appropriate squeeze message.
Someone who will definitely be voting Labour, and will not consider voting for anyone else.
These are people who usually vote Labour, but are unsure who they will vote for this time, It is equally important that you include here those that are likely to support us but have a history of voting Labour.
Someone who will definitely be voting Conservative and will not consider voting for anyone else.
These are people who usually vote Conservative, but are unsure who they will vote for this time. It is equally important that you include here those that are likely to support us but have a history of voting conservative.
This is for recording third and if significant even fourth parties. These are usually the nationalist parties SNP and Plaid, or single issue parties such as UKIP, Respect and Green.
This information can be particularly important for targeting groups. For example targeting Green voters with Liberal Democrat environmental policies or Respect voters with the Liberal Democrat anti-war message. You should create new columns in your EARs set up for canvass cards for the major alternative parties in your area.
This column is often misunderstood. A non-voter is actually somebody who would vote but can’t rather than won’t vote.
It could be that they are away on holiday or infirm or possibly even deceased. Some people may move out of this column at future elections, so should not be discounted (unless dead).
Somebody who is fed up with politics and politicians is an Anti rather than a non-voter on the grounds that they actually may go and vote.
So be persistent with people who say they will not vote and find out the reason why.
If it’s general dissatisfaction with politics, put them down as Anti.
These are people who will not tell you under any circumstances and don’t feel inclined to give you any information.
This in practice does not mean they will not vote Liberal Democrat but generally it is accepted that anyone who will not tell you is unlikely to support the Liberal Democrats.
These people are not worth calling on again. Anyone who slams a door in your face should also be put in this category
Do not be afraid to leave the canvas card blank against an indvivduals name. It is better to put nothing than false information that will be carried forward into future years.
If the voter says they’ve not decided yet ask them how they voted last time. This can be recorded in the appropriate years canvas records if you make a note of it on the canvas card. Do not in current circumstances record a “not decided for 201″1 as a probable for 2011 just because they say they voted for us last time. This could give us a false impression of how were doing and suggest that they do not need to be re-canvasssed regarding the 2011 election which the clearly do.
Revised 15/2/2011 JB