We live in the bluest city in one of the bluest states there is. This weekend we took a drive to a swing state to help out Barack. I'm being a bit vague because there was some call to not divulge a lot of the details of the campaign.
The first thing we saw as we pulled to town, was a big Xmas tree lights flag with a McCain-Palin sign in the middle. This was actually the first live propaganda I've seen. As we walked neighborhoods it was amazing to see the mixture of Obama and McCain signs scattered across lawns on the same street.
- Talking to someone who said "I'm on the other side". He said "Well, I am on the other side, but you guys are going to win. Obama kicked his A** in the debate the other day. And if he wins, then he's my president!" I didn't go into how if he thought Barack was so much better in the debate, why is he voting for McCain, but we liked his attitude. First - defeatism, which will keep some home from the polls. Second, capitulation which was cheering to see after so many videos of McCain/Palin crazies.
- Old people and Young people were the ones who wanted to talk the most. Young people were all jazzed and all voting for Obama. Old people were split. Some were Obama, some were "undecided". My take - the undecided voters were just coming to grips with the change personified by Barack Obama. 6 months ago they would be voting for McCain. But they have watched all the debates and they watch the news. They are disappointed in McCain and like what Obama is saying. Most that vote will vote for Obama. Some won't vote. All of them wanted to talk and enjoyed the company. At most doors, people would say "We are voting for Obama" and tried to shoo us off and get back to the football game. Not the young and old people (mirroring the campaign donations?)
The old people wanted to chat, and we made a point of not trying to escape their clutches. I think that giving them 10-20 minutes to just listen wins votes. The line that worked best with 75 year old men? They worried about experience and we would say "Someone with good judgement, which I believe describes Obama, will hire the right people to help him out, and he'll succeed because of his leadership. The first - and most important decision that they made was to pick a vice president. McCain picked Palin, Obama picked Joe Biden". They would coo and say "I like that Joe Biden" and I would say "So does Barack". Then they would say "Sarah Palin, I don't understand that".
At one house a woman answered and said "You want to talk politics! Democrat or Republican?" We said "Democrat" and she said "Let me get my husband, please do sit down. I'm the Republican in the family but I'm sort of leaning the other way", she winked. Her husband, a 72 year old originally from Holland soon joined us and we discussed politics for 20 minutes. He wanted to know how Obama would deliver on all of his promises because he is just one man. I said "4 years ago this guy was nobody. He is a African American. Now he is on the doorstep of the Presidency. His campaign is razor smooth and efficient, built from nothing, and beat the Clintons along the way. That is because he had the ability to select the right people for the job, I believe he will be able to select the right people for his Cabinet and advisors, and that started with Joe Biden." My wife threw in Warren Buffet and Colin Powell for good measure. I don't think he's really undecided and he'll vote for Obama, but it can't hurt to get a little facetime from the campaign to seal the deal - just showing that we care about our candidate and that we cared about his vote to sit down and give him some time. And he said he and his wife always end up voting the same way :)
- At one door, a woman answered and said "We're voting Tuesday, my husband is on a job in XXX and comes back Tuesday and we're going down." Great! Then she said "My father was going to come with us but he's sick and is now in the ICU, and he's worried he's not going to be able to vote, we have to figure out how to get an absentee ballot". Boom! We had a absentee registration form with info on how to turn it in with us! I gave her the form with instructions and the local Obama campaign number if she needs any help, saying they would probably meet her at the hospital to hand carry it if they needed to (and I believe it from what I saw this weekend).
This is hard work. It did not feel very rewarding at the time, knocking on unanswered doors (including sometimes you knew people were home). The people there were clearly getting a LOT of visits (one sign said "No Soliciting - especially politics as we already know who we are voting for") and are getting a bit tired. I told them "The best way to stop the visits is to go VOTE NOW - I can tell them you have already been visited but the data entry is done by people too old to walk and they might make mistakes. Bottom line - if the campaign sees you haven't voted I bet someone will be here next Saturday". That seemed to be a pretty solid enticement.
But as we drove home, it felt very rewarding, and I think I could say in the end our work probably netted a vote or two. Multiply that by a few hundred and maybe the state turns a bright shade of blue Nov 4!
Update: I forgot to add one "We went to vote early today but the line was TOO LONG". I said "Bummer - but that's a very, very, good sign!"