What Is Deep Canvassing?
Deep canvassing is a one-to-one conversation methodology that has been scientifically proven to be able to do two vital things:
- Create lasting changes in how (or whether) people vote by shifting the underlying emotions and attitudes that determine our political views
- Generate new trust and connection across difference or disagreement.
Deep Canvass conversations prioritize:
- Non-judgmentally inviting people to open up about their real, conflicted feelings on an issue
- Sharing vulnerably about their own life, and asking curious questions about the voter’s life (specifically the experiences that have shaped how they each feel about the issue)
- Being open and honest about their own truth and beliefs
What Do Researchers Say?
Since 2015, a series of randomized, controlled trials – experiments conducted by independent political scientists – have been run to rigorously measure the impact of deep canvassing in the real world.
You can read more about these results on our case studies page. Taken together, these experiments have found that 10 to 20 minute deep canvass conversations are capable of persuading people in more powerful and lasting ways than nearly any other approach that’s been studied.
Across these experiments, deep canvassing has been found to be able to:
Persuade at a Magnitude that is Rare
- Most efforts to persuade have been shown to have little or no effect.
- In contrast, deep canvass conversations have been found to be able to create the equivalent of a decade’s worth of social change in one conversation – to successfully change minds with anywhere from 17 to 102 times the power of a conventional persuasion effort.
Persuade in an Unusually Lasting Way
- Even when they do have an effect, the impact of most persuasion efforts disappears within 1-2 weeks.
- The persuasive impacts of many deep canvass efforts have been found to last for 5 months, 9 months, or potentially longer – often for as long as researchers were able to continue measuring.
Inoculate Against Fear-Based Messaging
- Deep canvass conversations have been proven capable of immunizing people against the effects of some of the most effective fear-based messages and appeals to prejudice.
Depolarize and Create New Connections Across Difference
- Deep-canvass conversations have been found to shift voters’ attitudes towards outgroups, or towards people on “the other side”.
- They have also been found to shift how the people who DO the outreach – canvassers, volunteers, and advocates – view the people they are engaging with. Deep canvassing has been found to strengthen our belief in our own ability to engage meaningfully across difference, disagreement, or pain and to change how WE are able to understand and relate to those on “the other side”.
Deep canvassing continues to evolve and receive greater study. Look here for a deeper dive into this academic data.
More research and experiments are underway right now!