Door-to-door Canvassing Guide - Flash Mob

In case of larger campaigns, including national or statewide campaigns, passionate volunteers might forget the purpose of their involvement and redirect their energy, resources, and momentum from the actual campaign to different kinds of activities. Conversely, one of the favored side activities of the volunteer is creating and facilitating flash mobs.

Why Flash Mob

What is a flash mob? It is an event which “spontaneously” occurs on busy street intersections, squares or bridges and involves a large group of individuals with written or created custom signs. Ordinarily, such events are usually coordinated through social media, such as Facebook or Twitter, or a group meeting.   

The flash mobs as we know them today originated at the beginning of the 21st century and gained reputation during the regime of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Flash mobs became more integrated into the political process with Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty in 2008 and 2012. Moreover, the supporters of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump actively initiated flash mobs during the 2016 presidential campaigns.

There are individuals who believe that flash mob can bring awareness and persuade the mass to vote for desired candidate. However, these people cannot be further from the truth. It is extremely difficult to persuade an individual to transfer their vote from one candidate to the other. Interestingly, party leaders often have family members who vote for the opposition. In addition, even a husband and wife can have different assessment of the candidates.

Flash mobs negatively impact political campaigns. They push away undecided voters, bring a negative reaction from the opposition, and result in no difference in supporting voters. Often a flash mob is initiated due to a weak campaign manager who cannot direct the volunteers’ energy to the task or since the volunteers expressed their desire to disconnect from the campaign and continue working on their own. The only two benefits that a flash mob can bring are the increased bonding between the team members and added revenue for the office providers.

Structure

Every flash mob has a structure to it. There are several roles the participants can play.

First, there is a mob organizer. This individual is usually the energetic person in the group who has an endless creativity.

Second, there are three types of mob participants. The first type consists of the volunteers who do not have any intention of doing door-to-door canvassing, voting, or making donations, yet they like to show off within a large group of people. The second type is the experienced canvassers who just want to entertain themselves in between the campaign activities. Lastly, the third type of volunteers are individuals who do not have anything else to do and who participate in the mob out of boredom.

Third, there is the press. For an additional spark, either free or paid press almost always attends such events.

Lastly, security is an important part of a mob. It might be surprising, but often events have their own security teams who usually stand out by having a part of their clothing labeled as “Security”.    

Normally, the event lasts about one or two hours, while some flash mobs can last longer. 

Effectiveness

Flash mobs are inefficient when it comes to a political campaign, and therefore no serious and experienced campaign manager would allow his or her volunteer to participate in such event. The number of people that the participants can persuade to switch their votes is close to zero, and flash mobs themselves do nothing more than agitate undecided voters.

Let us imagine a group of 100 people standing on a bridge for two hours waving custom signs supporting a certain candidate. Instead of doing that, they could organize a door-to-door canvassing event and visit 4,500 houses in those two hours, with 30 houses per hour per team.

There comes the question. What number of residencies would those volunteers who choose political canvassing instead of a flash mob could persuade to switch votes? The data shows 3-6%. This is between 135 and 270 people in just two hours. Considering the spending of about $300 for the campaign, this number demonstrates a significant return on investment in just two hours. In future articles, we will discuss this further in detail.  

Conclusion

Flash mobs in a political campaign can be compared to the spam folder in your email account. You never even read those emails as they are filtered straight into spam by your email service provider. Do you remember a single time when you opened the folder and decided that the advertisement of a new auto insurance deserved more attention than your existing insurance? Did you ever change your healthcare or mortgage provider due to of an ad you found in spam? It is highly unlikely, and so is switching your voter preference.

Overall, flash mobs are not only irritating for undecided voters, but they also may involve the participants in trouble with the authorities. Compared to canvassing, during a flash mob, it is difficult to control the participants who decide to show up for the event. Often random individuals with a history of alcohol abuse, public disruption, and so on may join the event, which will give the police the reason to stop the flash mob.

An exceptional campaign manager will avoid having a flash mob and will organize canvassing events.

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And do not forget that every campaign starts with map multiple locations