If you live in the Mission, you have likely received a knock on your door from someone volunteering for Hillary Ronen, a candidate running for District 9 supervisor.
That’s because in today’s world — even in the technological driven Mission District — all four candidates running for supervisor have relied heavily on old-fashioned door-to-door campaigning.
The irony that the candidates have primarily focused on meeting voters face-to-face, in a community greatly influenced by tech companies, hasn’t gone unnoticed by candidates.
Ronen estimates her volunteers to be in the hundreds, tackling every neighborhood from Bernal Heights to Portola in a district where some 44,482 voters are registered to vote, according to the Department of Elections.
“We want to speak to as many voters as possible,” Ronen said. “We have a lot of people who don’t use Facebook and social media.”
Take the Mission, for example. It’s one and a half times more densely populated than the rest of the San Francisco, according to census data. It’s also the most densely Latino population in the city, and one where candidate Melissa San Miguel was born and raised.
Her campaign manager, Christian Schneider, contends that San Miguel’s strongest message has been her accessibility.
“She connects with the voters and the community,” Schneider said. “That’s why her message is authentic.”
Phil Van Treuren, of Political Campaigning Tips, said the one single tactic to follow in a local race is door-to-door campaigning.
“Smaller districts mean that you can visit every targeted voter’s home personally if you start early enough,” Van Treuren said in a statement. “And for a voter, the impact of getting a personal visit at your home from a candidate is much more significant and memorable than any other kind of campaigning.”
Candidate Joshua Arce has knocked on over 15,000 doors in the district — half of them in the Mission. He said that oftentimes, meeting voters in person goes hand-in-hand with his campaign’s social media efforts.
“I’ve talked to them about the change I’m trying to bring, and when I get home, there’s somebody who’s tweeted that they just met a candidate at the door,” Arce said.
Arce and Ronen are considered the front contenders in the four person race, but that doesn’t mean their social media platforms are growing with activity and tweets. Each candidate has roughly 500 twitter followers, a modest following for an area with over 50,000 residents.
Candidates are avoiding what managers call the “bumper sticker effect,” where slogans or advertisements are used that don’t resonate with voters like a personal connection would.
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Candidate Iswari España says his campaign trail through District 9 took challenging turns as he approached people so “immersed in their cell phones that you cannot approach them.”
Sure, door-to-door campaigns are the most effective strategy, España argued. His campaign has not only taken him to people’s front doors, but also to small businesses.
“But people are hooked to their tablets and phones,” Espana said. “Out on the street you don’t have that much interaction with them like the years before.”
But like the other candidates, for España, every door matters. On the days before the election, he is knocking on the last few doors he can reach in District 9.
He hasn’t updated his Twitter in a couple of weeks, but knows voters will remember his face and their interaction with him.
And many will vote based on that single meeting.
“No matter what the state of technology is, going door to door gives you the ability to get a more accurate impression of people,” Arce said.