A Field Guide to Phone Banking; Or: Just be a person, for God’s sake.

So you want to phone bank for Cheryl Turpin or Ryant Washington. Great! I’m so glad you’re giving your time. Let’s get down to it.

Imagine if someone called you and said, “Hi. I’m Aemilia. I hope you go on January 10 to see the movie Arrival.” What would you say? “Okay. Why should I see that movie? Have you seen Arrival? Is it good? Why?”

I mention this because, if the thought of phone banking scares you, don’t be! You’ve got this. Pretend you’ve just seen the best movie of the year, and you want your friend to see it too.

If the thought of phone banking seems super easy to you: give me one fact about Ryant Washington. Tell me one thing about Cheryl Turpin, anything.

The point here is that to phone bank, you need two things: 1) You ought to like your candidate, and 2) you ought to know about your candidate.

So, back to the useful metaphor of movie watching. There are two goals of phone banking.

First: You’re trying to get your callee to just get out of their house on the 10th, and go to the movie theater at all.

How would you do that? Easy. You speak from the heart. Going to the theater is a great night out. It’s fun. You might tell them the last film *you* saw at the theaters. You talk about yourself as a movie goer. You ask them if they know where their closest theater is. You say, oh yeah, that’s easy. It’s about 10 minutes from you.

Second: you’re trying to get them to see *your* favorite movie.

How would you do that? Also, easy. You speak from the heart, and tell them why you like the movie, and why you think that *they* would like the movie. You ask them about their favorites, and you say, “So, you like Sci-fi? You like Drama? Arrival has really lovely scenes about human grief, and two rad-as-shit aliens.” You appeal to them, and what they need, by listening to them, and genuinely speaking to them about their issues.

How do you do this? You have to have seen the movie you’re talking about. That is, you have to learn about the candidate. Just saying, “hey, I hope you vote, and I hope you vote for Cheryl Turpin” is literally the absolute minimum you can do. Why do you like her? because she’s a Democrat? Because we need to take back state legislatures?

The person you’re calling does not give a fuck about that.

Nor should they! They care about Virginia, their town, and their family. The person you are calling is what quants call a Low Interest Democrat. They are a Dem, but they either don’t vote regularly or might not care enough to vote this time.

They like just the same kind of movies that you do, but they don’t know much about Arrival. And they’re not 100 percent sure they want to see anything on the 10th, anyway.

But. You are calling them, person to person, and you are going to share your human love, and in doing so you will change how they see themselves. It is a woo concept, and entirely supported by the goddamned data:

For most Americans — and especially for low-income citizens of color — it is very rare to have someone knock on the door or telephone for the sole purpose of urging them to vote. When such an unexpected interaction occurs, it can be very meaningful — and jolt people into a new way of thinking about themselves as citizens.

So. We’re going to connect with a person, and to do that, we’ve got to know what we’re talking about. No problem! Let’s do a small bit of research.

Do you know what Cheryl Turpin does for a living?

She is a public school teacher. How awesome is that.

What does she teach

Man. She teaches AP Environmental Science at a high school in Virginia Beach. Come on!

How did Virginia swing in the election? Good question!

I googled “Virginia 2016 Election Results.” This is from the New York Times. Creepy white glove mouse over to Virginia Beach… Look at that! We lost this district by one point. This is winnable. Super.

I’m not a political theorist. What I did was some focused googling, and some thinking. There is some more data here, and here.

I’m going to do more, after I’m done here. I’m going to research about the first election, and what his competitor is all about.

So just to be clear: Phone Banking is easy, if you just become your normal human self. If someone called you to recommend something, you’d want to know that a) they care, and b) they know the thing they’re recommending. With a little bit of knowledge, you can really connect with someone, and in turn, really get that someone out to vote on the 10th.

Good luck to you!

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