Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Candidates can't have time for everyone

It might sound awful but I wonder if voters or more particularly those bloggers commenting on the election have unrealistic expectations about what a candidate can and can't do when on a doorstep with them.

Many will doubtless complain about how candidate X doesn't come all the way to their door and debate in detail the key point of aspect of modern life that is doubtless very important to them as a voter. It is not the case that the candidate whoever they may be feels that your issue is unimportant rather the fact that there are literally ten of thousands doors to call on and only so much time in which to do it.

To hammer home my point let's do some exciting maths! Say a candidate spends 5 minutes at each door. That would be 12 doors maximum per hour. Of course you need to allow the candidate some time to walk between the door of one house and the door of another, it might only be 20 secs but for 30 houses that would be ten minutes and for 300 houses it would be an hour and a half. So that's the micro level what about all the houses?

Taking one example I have reasonable knowledge of there are somewhere in the region of 28,000 houses in Dublin North Central. At 5 minutes expended per door, that works out at 140,000 minutes in total (ignore the 20 sec walk time per house) which is just a bit over 2300 hours. That means it would take just under 100 days going at it 24 hours per day, 7 days per week to spend just 5 minutes at each door.

Now we need to consider the needs of those the candidate is calling on. People do not like someone coming to their door before 10am or after 9pm, and you have to allow an hour during the course of the day to get some grub, a bit of rest and to empty the tanks. Also factor in that people are generally none too keen on anyone coming to call after 7pm on a Saturday or at any time on a Sunday and the available hours are reduced even further. So given a more realistic time of 1o hours per day, you would be looking at closer to 300 days to cover all those doors. And yet they have 25 or so days in which to do it.

Truth is the serious candidates will have called to your door before the election was ever called and that would have afforded people the time and the freedom to raise an issue and have a reasonable expectation of it being looked at. Asking candidate X just 2 weeks before polling day to get something in particular done when they have ten of thousands of doors to call on is just plain nuts. And that goes for advocate organisations emailing requests to candidates too especially if said organisation has no means to publicise if the candidate has gotten back to them or not.

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