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Polis Case Study:
Gary Johnson for President 2016

National campaign empowers volunteers with Polis


After a record-breaking run in 2012, Gary Johnson and the Libertarian ticket were positioned for an even stronger showing in 2016. The campaign wanted to knock ten million doors to reach voters disillusioned with the main parties, but their decentralized operation made it difficult to organize canvassers nationally. They used Polis to empower their devoted base of supporters to canvass independently and carry them to a historic showing on election day.

About the Race

Gary Johnson and Bill Weld entered the 2016 race with a wave of momentum. Voters unhappy with the primary party candidates quickly drove the Libertarian ticket to record fundraising and polling results early in the campaign. Their challenge was to maintain that energy and capitalize on it at the polls.

They knew that person-to-person interactions would be the most effective way to turn that enthusiasm into votes, but a traditional field operation wasn’t an option. Their staff was spread across the country with full field offices in only a handful of states. They needed a way to mobilize their enthusiastic supporters without the overhead costs of the usual canvassing program.

Why Polis?

Polis fit seamlessly into the Johnson campaign strategy, providing canvassers with the autonomy to knock at their own pace, in their own neighborhoods, with minimal management from campaign staff.

Through rallies, email campaigns, and peer-to-peer outreach, the campaign encouraged their supporters to download the app and register to canvass. After registering, campaign staff could remotely confirm and train a volunteer on the easy-to-use software in just minutes and send them out to start knocking. Volunteers could easily access a database of households in their area that the campaign wanted to contact, and the app would automatically generate walking routes based on a combination of canvassers’ locations and the value of nearby households to the campaign.

This innovative approach gave volunteers the ability to canvass around their own schedules, freed up campaign staff to focus on strategy, and allowed their team to run a door-knocking campaign with the precision and scale of a much larger operation.


Over 5,000 volunteers signed up to canvass for the Johnson campaign with Polis. Those volunteers worked off a dataset of over 15 million households likely to support the campaign and lifted the campaign to the most successful third-party result since Ross Perot.

On election day, they received nearly 4.5 million votes nationally, dwarfing Johnson's 2012 popular vote total and marking the Libertarians' most successful presidential run to date.


“Polis is the best of both worlds in technology.  Easy to use and packed with advanced insights.  We chose Polis because they understand that technology is constantly evolving.  They provided our campaign with customized solutions and best in business features.  Polis adapted their system to the needs of our campaign and provided 24/7 customer support.  Polis provided us with cutting edge canvassing technology and turnkey integration solutions.” 

Burly Cain, National Field Director, Johnson for President


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