For the past three weeks, I have spent Saturday mornings canvassing neighborhoods in southern Fauquier County, Virginia for President Obama. Fauquier County is a very conservative county. In 2008, Fauquier County went for McCain even though the surrounding counties in Loudoun, Prince William and Culpeper went for the President. Our Democratic Committee in Fauquier is very active even though we are a pretty small group. People like hosting tables and handing out leaflets and registering voters. We love our yard signs and we also get quite a few phone bank volunteers. Canvassing is another story.
Many people are afraid to canvass. They fear getting cursed out, having doors slammed in their faces, or worse, being met by a gun toting homeowner who thinks we are trespassing. This last fear persists despite the fact that no one has encountered such a person. My experience, both here in Fauquier and in Columbia S.C. during the 2008 primaries, is that people who come to the door are nice. They may not support the President, but they are not going to yell and they are not going to chase you away. Many people want to talk and to share their opinions. You learn a lot about what people think and you hear a lot about the problems and concerns most of us have.
Our group of canvassers in the southern part of the county consists of four fifty-something women. We meet at the local McDonalds, get our walk sheets, share leaflets to place in doors of the “not home even though my garage is open and both cars are in the driveway” people. Last week, one woman made copies of an AARP article about the Affordable Care Act for everyone to hand out. This one page article is easy to read and clearly lays out the benefits provided by the affordable care act. Our goal these past weeks have been to knock on a hundred doors per team.
We have been canvassing the last two weeks in middle class subdivisions in Bealton, VA. I have learned quite a lot about how the race has changed this year. For one thing, there are fewer Romney yard signs and more Obama yard signs. Now I don’t get too excited by this because you could count the number of Obama yard signs on one hand in 2008 in these same neighborhoods. But where there were 5 Obama signs in 2008, there are now 10 or 11. This is a hopeful sign. Another difference is that we have found a much larger number of undecided voters than in 2008. These voters are willing to talk to us. They are especially interested in the AARP article and we ran out of these on my route. Talking to undecided voters increases the time we spend canvassing but we hope we are helping people to make up their minds and vote for the President.
The homeowners are pretty friendly. Even those who say they are voting for Romney. One man apologized for voting for Romney. He said his family are very staunch Republicans and he’s not ready to go against the grain just yet. Many people say, “As of right now, I am voting for Romney.” That’s a qualified statement of support if I ever heard one. The last election, people who were for McCain were very certain about him, A few were angry that Obama had as much support in Fauquier County as he did. We have also met Obama supporters who didn’t know that OFA was working in Fauquier County and were interested in volunteering. We have registered some younger voters and some Hispanic voters while canvassing. The more I canvass, the more I like canvassing. I get so outraged by Romney’s attitude toward anyone who isn’t filthy rich and entitled and this is a positive way to relieve that frustration.
During the last election we had many more volunteers who were willing to canvass. We even had volunteers from DC and Maryland who came down to Fauquier. At first, our little group was somewhat discouraged because we saw that there are so many more people who are not certain about voting for Romney and a visit from a grassroots Obama supporter can make a difference. There are so few of us and there are so many doors. Still, the four of us have vowed to meet at McDonalds in Bealton every Saturday morning at 10:00 AM, get our walk sheets and our leaflets (we are making more copies of the AARP article) between now and election day. Given the hideous remarks made by Romney this week, I hope and expect that we will continue to find more support for the President or at least more people who are willing to be swayed by talking to us. In my opinion, the best way to make certain that Romney and his entitled, privileged pack of unrepentant pilferers don’t get into the White House or the Congress, is to spend a couple of hours a week canvassing in your county for OFA. Or you could come to Fauquier County, VA. We could use the help.