Direct Contact Tactics

Direct Contact Tactics

As you consider which outreach tactics to use, you are going need to weigh the benefits between (1) the cost to use the tactic, (2) how likely are you going to be to reach someone and (3) what will be the treatment effect of the tactic in relation to the universe. It is also useful to think about what contact methods are best for what people. For example, young people are a lot more likely to respond to a text than a phone call. Different contact methods can also be useful for different types of outreach. Its hard to have long persuasion conversations over text because voters tend not to read past the first few sentences of a text message. But texting can be very useful to schedule volunteers, remind people to vote on election day, or ask if they have turned in a ballot.

Treatment effect: the average impact of a treatment. In the case of campaigns, the treatment can be something like a persuasion message or a turnout message.

πŸšͺ Knocking Doors

Knocking doors as a method to connect with voters has been the hallmark of campaigns for at least a generation or two. There are some real pros to door knocking - you meet your voters where they are and it can yield higher contact rates (and treatment effects) than other methods. However, as seen in 2020, sometimes door knocking is not an option.

The treatment effect used by Deck by universe for doors is as follows:


*To get to this treatment effect we have reviewed resources from a variety of groups to create this assumption. It might be higher or lower in your district but this should be a good starting point for your campaign.

Another number to consider with doors is the contact rate. Contact rate can vary greatly between the day, time of day, neighborhood and universe. A standard contact rate assumption is 25%.

Contact rate: how many people can you expect to talk to? It is typically presented as a percent. For example a contact rate of 15% would mean for every 100 doors knocked you could expect to talk to 15 voters.

Not all voters can be reached via door knocking. A few considerations when deciding if or how you want to decide on which voters to contact via doors:

  • How rural or urban is the turf?
    • A rural turf can take 1+ hour for 10 doors depending on density of houses and road quality
    • A dense urban turf could translate into 25+ doors/hour
  • What is your volunteer capacity?
    • Who will be knocking on the doors?
    • Are your volunteers able to get to turf and knock on doors?
  • Are these groups of voters best contacted via doors?
  • What has been the average contact in your district?

If you're wondering how you'll get started with your door knocking program, VoteBuilder, OpenField and other tools will be able to help!

πŸ“ž Calling

We make calls for similar reasons as knocking on doors. In comparison to door knocking, phone banking is a more accessible volunteer task and can be done anywhere.


*This is a general assumption on treatment effect. We reviewed resources from groups like the Analyst Institute to create this assumption. It may be higher or lower in your district but this is a good starting point.


The contact rate of between 2-5% on the phones is starting to become pretty standard. The number of calls that volunteers can get through in an hour depends but most organizers expect their volunteers to make 25-30 calls per hour. A few considerations when deciding if or how you want to decide on which voters to contact via phone calls:

  • Do you have phone numbers for the voters you want to contact?
    • Are they high quality phone numbers?
  • Is this the best way to contact these voters?
    • Do they live in a rural area where it would be incredibly time consuming to knock doors in?
  • Who will be making the calls?
    • What is your volunteer capacity?
  • Are your volunteers able to call on their phones or do they expect you to provide phones?

VoteBuilder, Openfield, CallHub and GetThru are tools that will be able to help you make calls to your voters. You can also use autodialer services through GetThru and others that cost more, but will automatically dial voters and connect those who pick up to volunteers. Autodialers are a great way to contact more voters, but require a number of volunteers to make calls at the same time.

πŸ“± Texting

Texting can be a great method to reach voters that won’t pick up their phone or answer their door. It can be cheap and quick to reach out to thousands of voters. Getting a texting program set up can be a bit laborious for some campaigns. Within campaigns you will hear texting also be called peer-to-peer and P2P.


*This is a general assumption on treatment effect. We reviewed resources from groups like the Analyst Institute to create this assumption. It may be higher or lower in your district but this is a good starting point.


If you are running your texting program through a platform like GetThru, Hustle or CallHub, they will be well versed in the legality of texting and you won't need to worry much about the legality of it all. The main things to be aware of are (1) your texters will need to send each text individually and (2) there needs to be a way that you are keeping track of those who opt out of receiving texts so they will not receive another text.

πŸ“‹ Clipboarding

Clipboarding is typically used for voter registration only because you do not know who you are talking to and for persuasion and turnout you want to make sure you are talking to the right voter with the right message. As mentioned in the Winning votes section, clipboarding is also known as street canvassing. It is most traditionally done at large in-person gatherings, think farmers markets & concerts, where you can talk to a large volume of people with little effort. Of course it gets its name from the organizer or volunteer likely standing with a physical clipboard.

The estimated treatment effect for clipboarding for voter registration is 2%. We would expect for every 1000 unregistered people you ask to register to vote, you will get 20 new registered voters.

Things to consider with clipboarding:

  • What are the events or locations in your district that would be good for voter registration?
    • What is the weather at this event?
    • Is there anything you need to account for safety e.g. providing masks?
  • What is your capacity?
    • Will volunteers be doing the clipboarding?

Want to get started with Deck? Schedule a time to talk with us here or email us at!