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My wife is still a nervous driver.  She got her driver's license only a year ago, after living for decades of adulthood in a culture where she didn't have to drive and would frankly be well-advised not to if it could be avoided.  So when the "check engine" light came on and stayed on in her car last night, I knew that my plans for the day would change.

I knew that most of my afternoon would be spent at a joint birthday party for my whole family, into which I am still integrating my newly immigrated daughters.  I hadn't know that most of my morning would be spent at the mechanic's.  So I was able to squeeze in far fewer calls than I expected today.

My sample size was too small, therefore, for me to present any sort of reliable result, and I don't even know whether the DCCC list is a cross-section of all voters or of Democrats.  As usual, most of my calls ended in messages left on answering machines; as usual, I also ran into a fair number of Scott Murphy supporters asking me to keep up the good work and give Jim Tedisco hell.  (One of them talked about organizing her group of retiree friends.  That was one fun conversation.)

But I came here to write about was the undecideds:

About half of the people I spoke to were undecided.

I'll say that again, in a blockquote, to let it sink in:

About half of the people I spoke to were undecided.

I don't what other people were finding in their calls -- and I hope that some will report in here -- but this struck me as a huge number.

Now (and I'm sorry if this sounds conceited), I've done a lot of phonebanking and I'm really good on the phone.  Give me an undecided voter and I have a good chance of finding the issue that will win them over (or at least of getting them to do a convincing job of telling me that they're won over.)  In this case, the issue that the DCCC had chosen was the right issue to choose: cooperation with Obama to fix the economy and bring jobs to New York.  One candidate would cooperate with Obama; one would see political benefit in obstructing him.  "We don't have time to mess around with political games these days," is what I tell them.  "The President is trying hard to fix the economy and we want people in Congress who will help him, not get in his way."

All of the undecided voters told me -- when I asked them whether I should classify them as "Strongly Murphy," "Leaning Murphy," or still "Undecided" -- that I could mark them down as "Strongly Murphy," and the tone of their voices made this ring true.

One thing that Tedisco has done is muddly the waters by making the whole campaign seem unpleasant.  When I confront an undecided voter, I ask them if they've seen the TV ads.  They have.  I tell them that I don't like all of the negativity (and this is true: I don't.)  They seem relieved.  I tell them that I'm sure each side thinks that the other side is worse, I sure do, but that I think most of what they see on TV is a distraction.  And then I launch into the takeaway: that this election is about whether to help Obama fix the economy or hinder him.

They like that a lot.  It makes a hard decision easy.  It means that they can tune out the ads.

So two things: if you are phonebanking, you might want to try this technique.  And, if you are not yet phonebanking, look at that number again: almost half of the people I reached were undecided, and so far as I can tell I convinced them to vote for Murphy.  You can do this too.  If enough of us do this, we -- and Obama, and the Democrats overall -- win.  If not enough of us do this, we lose -- and Boehner and Cantor and Limbaugh and Coulter and Huckabee and Howard Kaloogian and all of the others win.  If you care about how well Democrats do, wherever you live, you have to pitch in.

We can make the difference.  We know how to make the difference.  But will we make the difference?

Here's the link to the DCCC phonebank.  There are three days left; let your conscience be your guide.

Originally posted to Doane Spills on Sat Mar 28, 2009 at 08:56 PM PDT.

Poll

How many calls have you made so far for Scott Murphy?

55%25 votes
6%3 votes
4%2 votes
2%1 votes
0%0 votes
4%2 votes
2%1 votes
6%3 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
2%1 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
4%2 votes
11%5 votes

| 45 votes | Vote | Results

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