Canvassing Support: How To Effectively Sell Your Candidate



PART I – Voters Demographic Analysis

The first and right step you have to take when going to canvass is to study and understand the demographics of the area. Demographic analysis is the study of a population-based on factors such as age, and sex.

Demographic data refers to socioeconomic information expressed statistically, they are; employment, education, income, marriage rates, birth and death rates, religion, language and more.

These are the factors that you must put into consideration before you embark on any sensitization programme to any neighborhood you’re unfamiliar with so as to organize and arm yourself with the needed communication tools to engage properly with them without constituting nuisance to their environment.

You must understand the type of people you’re planning to talk to.
Before you move, make sure you must have satisfactorily answered the following questions;

  1. What is the level of crime and violence in this area?
  2. What are the most common types of crime that occurs in this area?
  3. What are the safest periods to be in this area?
  4. What are the norms or traditions that must be respected?

The answers you get will determine how you’d present yourself going forward.

Part II – Interaction: How To Engage with Voters

A good intention could easily be misinterpreted if communicated very poorly, this is why it is important to know how to properly engage with voters so that any form of glitch or misunderstanding doesn’t occur.

For election and canvassing which is usually a very sensitive topic in many parts of the country, one must be extremely careful on how communication is initiated and sustained in the course of the sensitization rally or programme.

I have highlighted various indices for engaging voters and how to proceed.

i. How to engage people based on their religious beliefs – Once you find out the religion of a voter directly or indirectly, try as much as possible to integrate relatable religious precedents to them based on their religious beliefs.

As you present evidence based reasons why they should join you, complement these reasons with Bible or Quranic verses that agree with your position. This will make them more susceptible to trusting and believing your words because you have cited examples which their faith also supports.

ii. How to engage people based on their traditional beliefs – It is adviced that grassroots sensitizations are best done by people of similar cultural heritage to the area intended for this purpose.

This is because they most likely will share the same language, foods, norms. etc. When words come from a person of similar heritage, intention is communicated and understood easily because of the shared heritage.

A Hausa man in a scanty village in Mbaitoli of Imo state will do a poor job in vote canvassing but will do far much better in Kano where he shares cultural and traditional beliefs with people he wishes to canvass.

iii. How to engage people based on their level of education – Speaking big grammar to a truck pusher without a secondary or primary education is to a high degree pointless. Come down to the level of knowledge which their education level afforded them.

Speak pidgin and make gesticulations that show that you understand their struggle. Show them that you are also from the ‘street’. When you meet the very educated ones, engage them intellectually.

Different strokes for different folks, it is however advised to keep dialogue very simple at all times except where necessary.

iv. How to engage people based on their occupation – Do you think the kind of economic conversation you’d have with a lawyer will be the same with that of a businessman?

While a doctor complains of poor working environment and inadequate salary, a businessman would be restless about his loan application which was just denied or the security of his whatehouse which is prone to armed robbery attacks.

Certainly you can’t strike the same type of socio-economic discussions with both. Engage accordingly. Assure a businessman how the new government will provide more loans and grants, convince the doctor that the new government plans to restructure their salary and welfare packages.

v. How to engage people based on their age – An 82 year old woman has already lived life, a 19 year old boy has only started life, do you think that both parties should be told the same thing? Absolutely no: while you assure mama of how the new government will provide free healthcare for the elderly the young man is interested only in what will get him to his life ambition.

Tell him how the new government will be youth friendly and how opportunities will be accessible to common people like him.

vi. How to engage people based on their gender – This is easy. Tell the women how the government will run an all inclusive country where everyone irrespective of their gender will be treated equally.

Assure them of women safety and how the new government plans to reduce the rate of rape, unwanted pregnancies and domestic abuse of women. Tell the men men things!

vii. How to engage people based on their community/quality of life- The gospel you’ll preach to a millionaire in his Victoria Island condo is certainly not the same with that of a mushin resident.

While one is looking for opportunities to manage and grow their wealth, the other may be looking for capital to start a business. Preach to them different sermons based on their socioeconomic conditions.

PART III – Voting Mentality

People approach the idea of elections and voting differently and it is sometimes necessary to understand ones mindset when trying to recruit them to join your movement.

There are 5 categories of voters in this segment;

  1. Those who share the same party with you- These are the people who are party members already. They don’t need to be recruited.
  2. Those who are undecided – These are those who don’t know which party to vote for, these are the best people to canvass. From their response you’d know where their vote is leaning to. if it’s the same with yours, give them more reasons to join you, if they are leaning to the opposition, reset their thinking by giving them evidence based reasons why your choice is better
  3. Those who don’t want to vote – These are the ones who believe their votes don’t count. They have never voted. Their PVC serves just as an identity card and nothing more. Sit them down, buy them a drink, show them how important every vote is and how this movement will sabotage every ploy to rig the election. In ekiti, votes where bought with as much as 10k, if it doesn’t count then why are they paying.
  4. Those who are paid to vote – These are usually the hardest to convince. A lot of them actually go through the PVC registration and collection stress solely for this reason; to ‘cashout’ during elections. Take your time to talk to them, use their immediate environment to show them how past administrations have abandoned and treated them unfairly. Make them understand that when they sell their votes, they sell their future.
  5. Those who are loyal to opposition – These are people who eat, live and breathe their party. They are prone to violence and are easily triggered. Engage them respectfully and once it isn’t returned in a friendly manner, apologize and take your leave.


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