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After reading mediaprof's request for advice for a first-time phonebanker, I've decided to share a bit about my own first experience phonebanking, which happened just a few hours ago, along with some information about Vote Today Ohio and some questions about taking further steps to help the GOTV effort.

PART I: Losing My Phonebanking Virginity to Vote Today Ohio

I'm from Westchester County, NY and I attended a phonebank with about 10 others to make calls to educate voters about Vote Today Ohio, a PAC with a highly-motivated grassroots effort to encourage early voting in Ohio and provide free transport to early voting sites for those in low-income areas and colleges in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus.

VTO is run by Amy Little, who was the campaign manager for Democratic Congressman (and former member of pop group Orleans, of "Still the One" fame) John Hall (NY-19, a district that went 53-45 for Bush in '04). In '06, the underdog Hall knocked off six-time Republican incumbent Sue Kelly in a tight race, thanks in large part to an outstanding effort by a campaign staff of 1,200 volunteers. Urban Ohio might be a different terrain than NY-19, but Little knows a thing or two about motivating volunteers and voters and her help in Ohio is only going to give the Democratic GOTV operation a boost.

I dialed 62 numbers, and about half went to disconnected numbers--yet another sorry indication of America's struggles. I left 12 voicemail messages and spoke to 12 others. I was able to reserve a spot on a free early-voting shuttle van for a young man, and one woman said she'd vote on Nov. 4, but wanted to pass along the information to an elderly couple she knew that may have difficulty traveling to and from their voting site.

I expected to be a bit anxious and have a low success rate today (even though our calls were going to likely Obama voters), so I was still somewhat satisfied with my results. Being able to connect with two voters that may not have been aware of early voting (and for all we know, may not have voted or been turned away from the polls on Election Day due to strict identification requirements) made my day worthwhile and easily outweighed all of the failed attempts and "We're sorry, but the number you have dialed is temporarily out of service" messages.

Several Ohioans expressed distrust with early voting and genuine fear that their votes would not count, be lost, or be stolen by the Republicans. We want to encourage early voting because it's easier and will help defeat voter suppression and elect Obama, so we still have plenty of work to do educating voters and calming fears that were stoked by Republican tactics. Just getting the word out about early voting is important, and I hope those I spoke to or left messages with will come around to early voting or tell others about it.

Together, we made 427 calls, left 61 messages, spoke to 72 voters and got several to reserve places on the free voting shuttle vans. One Ohioan promised one of my fellow volunteers to bring as many friends as she could to the shuttle with her--that was wonderful to hear.

This was my first effort in any GOTV or Obama-related campaign activity (in this case, unofficial), and I enjoyed not just being able to help but the atmosphere among the small group--the same positive feelings that have been felt by millions across the country. I don't have a car and took the train nearby, but others were kind enough to give me a ride from the local train station to the phonebank and also a ride back home (thanks!).

PART II: Becoming Phonebankingly Active and Practicing Safe Phonebanking

I don't have time to travel and canvass in a battleground state, so I'd like to continue to phonebank (either at other similar events or at home) through Election Day. The fellow who ran the phonebank has done and will do several others, and he said the Vote Today Ohio caller lists were better than those he got from the Obama campaign. He added that many voters in battleground states have been getting as many as 10 calls a day, and I worry that this may irritate people and, in some cases, hurt our GOTV effort.

I've been poking around to get an idea of their phonebanking resources, but after hearing about repeat calls and other mix-ups, I'm unsure about the reliability of the Obama campaign's caller lists. So, I've got a few questions:

  1. For those that have phonebanked via how have your phonebanking experiences gone, and how would you rate their caller lists?
  1. For everyone: are there any other organizations that provide better lists?
  1. If I have the option available, what legitimate battleground states do you think have had less saturation with campaign calls to voters?

I'd appreciate any input on those questions in the comment section. This diary probably leans a little bit towards the, err, MySpace-ish diaries disliked by several here, but the main intent here to let Kossacks know about Vote Today Ohio, let you all know that despite the rosy poll numbers, we need to do more work to promote early voting as a tactic to help Obama and the Democrats and to find out more about good ways to continue phonebanking.

Originally posted to Mr Jordan on Sun Oct 26, 2008 at 09:22 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Your tips feed my children (14+ / 0-)

    ...but your advice feeds my mind :)

    Registered Democrat as of 6/08. This is our time.

    by Mr Jordan on Sun Oct 26, 2008 at 09:27:12 PM PDT

  •  I haven't phonebanked using Obama's lists (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I have phonebanked for the union using union lists (of union members) and those were some good lists.

    I wonder if some of the repeat calls aren't caused by multiple organizations (which do not coordinate with each other) calling the same people.

    John McCain - Like W. Only Older.

    Funny McCain Pics archive last updated 8/29

    by InsultComicDog on Sun Oct 26, 2008 at 09:32:46 PM PDT

    •  Yeah, in re multiple organizations: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I think it's probably great to be calling on behalf of a union for a candidate -- that certainly adds to your gravitas on the phone.

      But I would probably stick to the Obama campaign otherwise.  I've been using their online tool to call Ohio.  My experience is somewhat mixed.  Earlier in the season, when we were trying to mine Republicans and occasional voters, it wasn't very fun.  Now, during get out the vote season, you're speaking almost exclusively to Obama supporters -- which is a good time.  

      Regardless, when you work with the Obama system, you're accomplishing many things that you aren't completing when you work though a third-party organization.  You're helping the campaign poll as well as updating and supplementing DNC voter files, which get shared with downticket and future presidential campaigns.  A major part of the reason the Bush ground game so thoroughly beat the Kerry ground game is that the RNC had better voter files.  

      •  I agree in part (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        such sweet thunder

        but I think the GOP ground game for Bush also relied heavily on churches and other religious-oriented organizations both to obtain lists of their GOTV targets and to actually work to GOTV.

        I think McCain was hoping to do a lot of that too, and his pick of Palin was partially motivated by the desire to use the religious third parties.

        The main reason I do the union calling, though, is that my parents are also doing it so it becomes sort of a family thing. We spend a few hours making calls from the same room, and then we all go out and eat Chinese food.

        John McCain - Like W. Only Older.

        Funny McCain Pics archive last updated 8/29

        by InsultComicDog on Sun Oct 26, 2008 at 10:54:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Quote from a non-political blog (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    my wife visits.

    "Oh, and if Obama or McCain or Sarah call one more time, I may lose my mind.  I currently am not loving living in Ohio.  Ha."

  •  Good point, I fear people being "bugged" (0+ / 0-)

    I remember the primary where people were irritated with multiple calls... There has to be some kind of database were people are not being called multile times.

    Choose Hope not Hate in 2008, Reject McCain/Palin

    by HouTxLib on Sun Oct 26, 2008 at 09:44:17 PM PDT

  •  There is strong evidence that (0+ / 0-)

    multiple calls are needed for the best success in getting people to the polls. Just remember to thank people for their time. I've called a lot using the Obama website. Lists get cleaned with each round of calls so how good the lists are varies. Remember that if you don't have a good list that being able to mark off bad numbers helps the campaign be more efficient the closer it gets to crunch time. What you are doing is highly valuable, irrespective of whether or not you have a good list or not.

    McCain says overturn Roe v. Wade.

    by peraspera on Sun Oct 26, 2008 at 10:34:48 PM PDT

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