by Jennifer Dees
“Yes, I’m voting for him,” the elderly woman said when I showed her campaign literature for Andrew Janz, Democratic candidate for Congress in CA-22, California’s congressional district 22, around Fresno. “I’m mad at my neighbor across the street because of that sign.” She motioned toward a sign to “Re-elect Devin Nunes,” the Republican incumbent in the district, whom Janz has vowed to “replace.”
“Oh, would you like an Andrew Janz sign?” I asked, and she eagerly accepted. I told her a volunteer would deliver and set up the sign for her, and left her smiling. The Janz signs already out-numbered the one Nunes sign in that north Fresno neighborhood, and by day’s end, we had quite a few more requests for Janz signs.
One of the best ways to engage voters and “get out the vote” for upcoming elections is canvassing door to door, knocking on doors or ringing doorbells to talk to voters directly. In CA-22, volunteers are canvassing regularly to raise awareness of the Andrew Janz for Congress campaign, identify supporters, and get out the vote for the June 5 primary election. More volunteers are needed in the weeks and months ahead, including for a “Canvasspalooza” on the weekend of May 19 and 20.
On a typical Saturday canvass, volunteers arrive about 9:30 a.m. to get organized, pick up a clipboard and literature, and have some coffee and snacks with Janz campaign staff. By 10 a.m., volunteers have traveled to nearby precincts with lists of houses to visit, typically those of registered Democrats. Volunteers use a smartphone app, PDI (for Political Data, Inc.), to look at either a map view of a neighborhood, street listings, or a “people view” with details about individual household members who are registered.
The PDI Mobile Connect app includes survey questions volunteers can ask voters when they engage with them at their front doors. Are they aware of Andrew Janz? He is running for Congress against Devin Nunes. If yes, are they supporting him? We quickly record their answers in the app, save, and move on to the next question. We ask enthusiastic supporters if they would like an Andrew Janz yard sign. There are more than 2,000 Janz signs out in the district already, helping build awareness of the campaign.
On our recent canvass, we found good support for Andrew Janz, but especially high awareness of his opponent, incumbent Devin Nunes. Even those who did not yet know about Andrew reacted very negatively at the mention of Nunes’ name, and were then happy to hear about Andrew as an alternative. They gladly took the campaign literature we had, and promised to vote in the primary on Tuesday, June 5.
If there are other members of the household who are not yet registered to vote, we can also help them register there on the spot. The deadline to register to vote in the June 5 primary is May 21.
Canvassing shifts are usually two hours, so by noon, it’s time for a lunch break. Then there is generally a second shift from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
If you would like to join a canvass, bring your smart phone (pre-load the PDI app), bottled water, suncreen, comfortable walking shoes, and layered clothing. You can sign up for the May 19-20 Canvasspalooza, to canvass in either Fresno or Visalia, or join a regular weekly canvass by contacting Yesenia Castillo, Volunteer Coordinator for the Andrew Janz for Congress campaign.
As the leading Democratic candidate in CA-22, Andrew Janz is expected to easily clear the primary. But then the real work begins. He will face Republican incumbent Devin Nunes in the general election, and it’s expected to be a tough battle, with the district, which went for Trump in 2016, still rated “Likely Republican.” That is despite impressive gains the Janz campaign has made in fundraising ($1.4 million so far), good media coverage nationally, and awareness in the district about his campaign. But volunteers will be working hard to change that rating with a November election that flips the district blue.
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