What I learned from 650+ phone calls for Joe Biden

My hometown, Erie PA, is known for a few things: averaging 8 feet of snow a year, hosting large motorcycle rallies, and playing an oversized role in choosing the next president of the United States every four years. I was highly motivated to get involved in the campaigns of Erie democrats, and decided to try phone banking. Phone banking can be tedious, repetitive, and emotionally draining, but it is also easily one of the most important and most flexible ways to get involved in a campaign. To make my phone banking a little more interactive, I decided to log some high level data (no personal information) to see if I could find any patterns and improve.

Going Off Script

The phone banking script we were given started like this:

9/21/2020
9/23/2020

The Respondents Wise Up

If you lived in a battleground state during this election, chances are you received at least a handful of phone calls asking you about your voting plan. Even if you were appreciative of the first call you received, you were probably not as appreciative by call four or five. And when I called you for the eighth time in one day asking if you had gotten your mail-in ballot yet, you probably yelled and threatened to vote for Trump out of spite. Looking at the stats I recorded, its almost funny how quickly the percent of responses I got dropped week by week:

Election Day

Making calls on election day was a wild experience. All hands were on deck, volunteers were making calls from the moment polls opened to the moment polls closed. The script was super simple — “hey, have ya voted?” The answer, resoundingly: “please leave a message after the beep.” The few people that did pick up their phones in the middle of the workday to talk to me were surprisingly appreciative. I assume that the possibility of a new president, or at least the possibility of not getting any more phone calls from PA Dems, put people in a good mood.

Final Thoughts

As a final analysis of my phone banking fun, here is a Sankey chart showing the end result of all my phone calls:

Made with sankeymatic.com
  • Longest call: 30 minutes
  • Most calls in an hour: 78 calls
  • Fewest calls in an hour: 36 calls
  • Most time wasted by a RoboKiller: 3 minutes. The bot was Santa trying to get a ride home and it was really funny.

Real Conversations with Real People

Phone banking offers a chance to do something that I feel is sorely lacking in our current isolated social landscape: a chance to talk to people you disagree with. I talked to people who thought Joe Biden was a communist. I talked to people who hated Trump, but couldn’t support Joe Biden because of his stance on abortion. I talked to people who were undecided, and were legitimately trying to make up their minds by watching the debates.

Programmer

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