In Action, Phone Calls and Phone Banks

Even if you HATE making phone calls, don’t stop reading! We’re only 11 days (fewer if you didn’t open this email on Saturday…) from several crucial special elections in swing states. Whether you want to block gerrymandering in Wisconsin, drum up volunteers for the environment in Georgia, or get one step closer to flipping the senate in Pennsylvania, phone banking is key.

You may make 30 calls in half an hour and reach only a few people. However, when you add your handful to everyone else’s, you’ve increased voting by 2-3% (Gerber and Green, 2016). The only thing you can do to beat that is to drive cross country and begin to knock on doors.

One of the biggest gains of phone calls is invisible to you but crucial to the movement. As you record outcomes, you feed a nationwide effort to clean voter lists. In the best of all worlds, you encounter someone who is Democrat, plans to vote, and is willing to volunteer.

You also find people who are no longer at that address; you identify consistent voters who need a push in the right direction; and you discover Democrats who need encouragement to vote. Volunteers use this data to plan and execute follow-up with more contacts. That repetition actually makes a difference: The Washington Post (July 15, 2014) reported that when potential voters get multiple contacts they are more committed to vote.

As important, there’s a personal benefit in joining a local phone bank or party. By calling as part of a group, you meet fellow volunteers who are as committed as you to making a change.

During the midterms, Obama came right to the point, “We shouldn’t expect (politics) to be entertaining all the time… Sometimes you are just in a church basement making phone calls and eating cold pizza.” So, even if they don’t serve pizza, don’t give up on the cause. It may be too late to drive or mail postcards, but it’s not too late to pick up the phone. Click here for advice on how to get over any qualms you might have about joining a phone bank.