What is the difference between Add Step, Remove Step, and Narrow Step when building a list? How do I use those steps to get the lists I want?
VAN has four types of steps when building a list: Add, Remove, Narrow, and Narrow by Sample. This article will explain the difference between the steps.
The first step in building a list should always be based on Home District or by County or City. This means that, from the whole Voter File, you will only get individuals within your House/Senate/Organizing district. For statewide campaigns (such as the US Senate or Governor), this allows you to focus on a specific geographic area. After this, you can create additional steps to modify your list.
The Add Step is, ironically, the least-used type of step. This is because an Add Step adds in voters that fit your criteria from the whole Voter File, not just your current list. For example, if you are working in a specific county and create an Add Step for a support ID survey question, VAN will add in all people with that support ID response, including those outside the county you chose in the first step.
You can think of this step as an OR step- it returns voters that meet the district criteria OR the support ID response.
The Narrow Step takes your current list up to this step and finds the voters within your list that fit the criteria you specify. For example, if you want to find all people age 18-30 in your State Senate district, you can use a Narrow Step specifying that age group and VAN will return those voters in your district.
You can think of this as an AND step- it returns voters that meet the district criteria AND the age criteria.
The Remove Step takes your current list and removes voters that fit your criteria. For example, if you want to find everyone in your county that is not a Lean or Strong Republican, you can use a Remove Step and select parties that you'd like to remove.
You can think of this as a NOT step- it returns voters that meet the district criteria but NOT the party criteria.
The Narrow By Sample Step is a unique kind of step. It is used when you have a large list and want to pare it down without changing any list criteria. For example, if you have a targeted list of 750 people, but want to create a phonebank with 200 contacts, you can use the Narrow By Sample Step. Simply click Narrow By Sample and then enter the exact number of voters you want in your list. VAN will randomly select the desired number of voters from the whole list. **Note: This should always be the last step before running your search**
When building a list, it is useful to press Preview My Results between each step to ensure that your list size makes sense for what you are working on. If it's not, go back and make sure you are using the right steps and the right criteria.