Research Brief: Deep Canvass, Deep Change

California Immigrant Policy Center
Date of Publication: 
March, 2019
Source Organization: 

A new model of political canvassing based on holding in-depth and emotional conversations with voters is reshaping grassroots engagement on immigration and can be replicated in other areas and with other topics. “Deep Canvass, Deep Change” is a guide that chronicles the successful techniques of the California Immigrant Policy Center and its partner organizations, such as the Tennessee Immigrant and refugee Rights Coalition, in using a strategy called deep canvassing. The model, which solicits an emotional response from the interviewee to build connections between canvassers and voters, has been shown to be more effective than traditional canvassing scripts that focus only on repeating a list of talking points. The Center used data gathered from door-to-door canvassing teams in California and Tennessee to create a new script, which reshaped the voting decisions of eight percent of voters approached on the issue of undocumented immigrants and healthcare. The campaign also revealed that five percent of voters showed a measurable reduction in prejudice towards undocumented immigrants as a result of the deep canvassing conversation. The key element that canvassers identified as crucial to the success of their conversations was to invoke the memory of a time when the voter was shown compassion by others. The campaign found that this “real world persuasion tool” can be replicated by a variety of organizations and even builds the leadership skills of the canvassers. (Clare Maxwell for The ILC Public Education Institute)

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California Immigrant Policy Center. (2019). Deep Canvass, Deep Change [Research Brief]. Retrieved from