the Bee’s first canvass math

I’m guessing that you probably can’t make out the photo, but it represents a major milestone in my daughter’s life.

While we were driving to camp this morning, the Bee and I were having a conversation about technology, and how it’s changed the way I do various things over the course of my life, and how it my change over the course of her life. She asked me for an example, and we got into a conversation about the work that I’m doing now on the election, and how field work in general has changed in the 16-odd (ulp!) years that I’ve been doing electoral work.

Which led to a discussion of canvass math–which is basically the formula that I use to figure out how many voter contacts a canvass operation might be expected to make over the course of a campaign–which lets me know how many voters we have to target in our field campaign. She thought it sounded interesting (really, it’s not. well, okay it is to me, but to most people? snoresville), and she asked me if we could practice tonight–she was especially excited to do it when I told her that I used a spreadsheet, because I generally didn’t want to do that kind of math in my head–she saw it as a challenge (can I do math that Mom can’t do?).

And lo and behold, when I picked her up, she asked me about it again. So here are the problems I set for the Bee. Let’s see how you can do! Note: the problems are progressive (i.e.–the answer is in the next question)–don’t read ahead until you figure out the first one. The Bee got them all right, are you as smart as a fourth-grader?

If a canvasser makes 15 contacts in an hour and canvasses for 4 hours, how many contacts will she make during her 4-hour shift?

If every canvasser makes 60 contacts in a shift, & there are 4 canvassers on a team, how many contacts will the team make in a shift?

If one canvass team makes 240 contacts in one shift, how many contacts will they make over one week (5 shifts)?

If one canvass team makes 1,200 contacts in a week, how many contacts will they make over a 20 week campaign?

If one canvass team makes 24,000 contacts over the course of a campaign, how many contacts will 17 canvass teams make?

So, who out there has a future in running a field campaign? I will confess that I made the problems a little easier than the ones that occur in real-life field planning–for example, the likelihood that all of the canvass teams start the same day (or even the same week) is pretty unlikely–but I was still mighty impressed that she could figure out the formulas that she needed to answer the questions. Maybe by 2012, she’ll be ready to be a coordinate a staging location…that sounds like more fun than eighth grade, doesn’t it?


July 15, 2008. politically motivated.


  1. Velma replied:

    Whoa! That pretty impressive!

  2. Andy replied:

    Oh, how I know these scenarios all to well 🙂

  3. alala replied:

    Yeah, I can do the math, it’s knocking on strangers’ doors and talking to them that I can’t handle. I was a canvasser for PIRG for a long summer, and ack. Just… ack.

    But yay Bee! Solid math skills are useful for many things.

  4. Anjali replied:

    Yay for making math interesting!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback URI

%d bloggers like this: