Introduction to Deep Canvassing: The Proven Method to Change Hearts and Minds Are you an organizer, community leader, or just someone looking to engage with your community around deeply polarizing issues? Learn how to have compassionate, non-judgmental conversations across lines of difference with this powerful technique.

Contact: Johanna Kichton, 202.660.0605, press@peoplesaction.org

First-of-its-kind study confirms deep canvassing can move undecided voters in a big way and shatter Trump’s stronghold in rural America

WASHINGTON, D.C.–People’s Action today unveiled new results from a groundbreaking study, charting a path to defeat Donald Trump in November. Building off of previous research, this historic study is the first in its field and confirms that deep canvassing can significantly reduce Trump support in rural and small-town America in key battleground states. 

“These results are transformative, and tell us a different story about rural America. For so long, people in rural and small-towns have been neglected and cast out because no one took the time to listen to them,” People’s Action Executive Director George Goehl said. “But we did, and we’ve found that compassion and empathy, rather than division and hatred, can lead us to a multiracial democracy that works for all of us.”

Deep canvasses are candid conversations between canvassers and voters in which participants exchange and reflect on emotionally powerful experiences. These conversations are critical to not only defeating Trump but also to building bridges among a deeply divided America. People’s Action’s deep canvass experiment showed that the method is about 102 times more effective at moving individual voters than the typical presidential persuasion program.

“It’s extremely difficult to persuade voters in a presidential election. Since taking office, Donald Trump’s approval rating has held incredibly steady. People’s Action’s work shows that respectful, non-judgmental conversations are able to move voters where many other tactics have failed, producing meaningful increases in Biden’s vote margin,” researchers Josh Kalla and David Broockman said.

“Being part of this experiment has really given me hope and purpose at a time when I desperately needed it. As a black woman living in the south I have been able to engage people in my community in a way that I did not think was possible. By truly listening to each other and sharing our lived experiences we were able to find common ground around creating a government that truly cares for all of us,” Down Home North Carolina (People’s Action member organization) deep canvasser Bonnie Dobson said.

Key background and results of the study:

  • People’s Action partnered with The New Conversation Initiative to help design the study and collaborated with renowned researchers David Broockman and Josh Kalla to conduct an evaluation.
  • Nearly 700 deep canvassing conversations took place among largely rural, white voters in the key battleground states of Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
  • The organizations involved in the deep canvass study include Michigan People’s Campaign, TakeAction Minnesota, Right and Democracy New Hampshire, Down Home North Carolina, Pennsylvania United, and Citizen Action of Wisconsin.
  • For every 100 conversations, canvassers added 3.1 votes to Biden’s vote margin. This impact is larger than the 2016 margin of victory in key battleground states and would translate to 108 electoral votes.
  • The study also resulted in increasing the intensity of support for Biden and intent to vote in November. 

People’s Action conducts deep canvassing to defeat Donald Trump on a daily basis. A national team leads volunteer texting and phone banks focusing on seven priority states (Arizona, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, and New Hampshire) texting tens of thousands of people. By the election, People’s Action member organizations along with more than 10,000 volunteers will reach 8 million people and have more than 200,000 deep canvass conversations to shift the tide and defeat Trump. Tonight, Tuesday, September 15th at 8 p.m. Eastern, People’s Action in partnership with Seed the Vote, will be joined by Rep. Pramila Jayapal to host a town hall and launch a national deep canvas voter outreach program to defeat Trump and heal America. 

A summary of findings may be found here, and the full report here

About People’s Action

People’s Action is a national network of 36 state and local grassroots, power-building organizations united in fighting for justice. We operate the largest progressive rural organizing project in the country. Our new podcast, To See Each Other, complicates the narrative about rural Americans in our most misunderstood, and often abandoned, communities. The Nation called our Iowa presidential forum the “most in-depth, people-powered forum” of the 2020 cycle.

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Press Contact
Johanna Kichton

(202) 660-0605

About People’s Action

People’s Action is a national network of 38 state and local grassroots, power-building organizations united in fighting for justice. Our organization recently released a vision for a national Homes Guarantee that has already prompted major legislation from champions including U.S. Reps. Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Rashida Tlaib. We operate the largest progressive rural organizing project in the country. Prior to endorsing Sen. Bernie Sanders for president, we completed a national forum series that The Nation called “the most in-depth, people-powered forum” of the 2020 cycle.”