So I decided to get off my butt yesterday (Saturday Sept 29th) early morning to join the team of Obama volunteers from my state of Kentucky who "invaded" one of OFA's 106 offices in Ohio yesterday to help GOTV for Early Voting which starts on Tuesday October 2nd. Our local OFA staffer said from now until election day, volunteers would be going to Ohio from neighboring states, (many of them non-competitive this cycle) -- Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, New York, Maryland & even Pennsylvania, each contingent arriving at the OFA office nearest their state.
This was my very first time doing door to door canvassing and boy was it a memorable experience for me! As a naturalized citizen, President Obama was the first American candidate I cast my vote for in 2008. At that time, I got involved by phonebanking from home, donating money, and doing data entry at the local Obama for America office during the primaries, and subsequently, the general elections. My experience may be old hat to many of you experienced campaign volunteers/workers, but it was novel for me.
I say, there's nothing that quite compares to the visceral experience of walking the canvassing beat to get the feel for voter mood at the granular level. Nothing beats the myriad conversations we volunteers shared amongst us as we car pooled in near convoy to Ohio.
My story is anecdotal, but there isn't a single Obama supporter, regardless of income status who doesn't know the issues that our President stands for inside out, as well as ready to DEFEND his policy accomplishments. And President Obama draws the most diverse supporters, bar none. No matter circumstance, everyone was doggedly focused on one goal and one goal only...DEFEAT ROMNEY and show his campaign the exit door come Nov 6.!!!!!
So here's how it went...for me... on the other side of the lovetangled squiggleys
Early Saturday morning about 18 of us Obama volunteers from my city assembled at our local KY office, were given driving instructions then car-pooled to embark on the 2 hour journey to the Reading Street OFA Office in Cincinnati, Ohio. Our ranks comprised of everyone from pointy headed folks, college grad student, retirees, 47%ers, diverse hue/ethnicity (really Obama's rainbow coalition is so organic that it's boring to point it out; except Romney's monolithic backers make ours seem so newsworthy)
I tell you, Romney's 47% remark has well saturated the bloodstream of the body politic. No amount of corporate media glossing will etch that catastrophe away. None. Not only did the folks I met know about it, they felt insulted by it and motivated to do whatever it takes not only to get Pres. Obama elected, but to DEFEAT Romney. He has become a lightening rod for Democrats and has focused our minds like nothing else.
The Obama for America office we converged at on Reading Street was a beehive of all kinds of activity that morning, and brimming with local volunteers as well as those of us who went there from various parts of Kentucky Lexington, Paducah, Louisville, Bowling Green etc. Someone there was designated to take care of us Kentuckians -- from briefing, sorting us out into canvassing teams, to addressing any quirky questions we had.
Turns out many of us were newbies who'd never canvassed before. But the efficiency of OFA at planning for every conceivable contingency soon eased our minds, that we walked out that office feeling gung ho like a well drilled army complete with our maps with voter addresses checkmarked, clipboards, What to say to voters & follow up, Dos & Don'ts, registered voter lists, voting calendar pledge cards, voter registration cards, Absentee ballot requests, campaign literature, volunteer recruitment cards,etc. We were also asked to simultaneously drum up support for Sen Sherrod Brown on our Obama GOTV.
The local Ohioans were really glad we came to join them GOTV. We simply let them know that we from non-competitive states would do our part but were expecting Ohio to bring home the big bacon come Nov 6. cuz without Ohio Romney is thoroughly toast.
My team comprised one of the people I traveled with as well as a couple from Lexington who'd closed their restaurant for the day in order to drive up to Cincy. They said re-electing Pres. Obama was very important to them, cuz they feared Romney's agenda. Canvassing dooor-to-door in a Cincinnati neighborhood was an exhilarating experience, replete with both highs and lows. We each had about 45 registered voters to contact, and that took close to 3.5 hours to complete. Physically exhausting? Yes. But I can say I got two weeks of aerobic exercise under my belt.
An unexpected high point of my beat was when I got a young guy whom I had stopped to ask clarification for a confusing address, to register to vote and commit to volunteer at the local OFA office. He'll turn 18 tomorrow. That at least neutralized my despair at one woman who adamantly refused to vote ever again and angrily asked me to leave. She said she'd voted for POTUS in 2008 but that she's "disappointed". She would hear none of my efforts to explain the crucial work PBO did saving Ohio's auto industry, Obamacare, which her children definitely benefit from. But alas. I hope for a change of mind before election Day.
The rest of the beat was really interesting for me and my team, including my visit to a boarding house for people with various challenges. I was humbled by how much they were aware of the stakes of the election and their commitment to vote. I also had a rollicking time at a beauty parlor where I went to clarify directions. I got everybody there to commit to vote even though they were not on my list. They all said they know the stakes were high . Some already had gotten absentee ballots. I registered someone who had changed her address.
Of course some on the list were not home, others had moved. But I made it a point to talk to anybody who'd care to listen about voting early and getting some actual pledge cards signed. It was a neighborhood fairly receptive to our message anyway so I could go beyond the list.
Back at the office I had to write up a tally of my team's activities and account for every list we were given, actual contacts made, Early voting pledge cards (OFA leaves nothing to chance or verbal promises as they will be following up with those voters). Incidentally, one of my team members recorded 2 Romney voters on her/his list.
First Lady Michelle Obama is going to Cincinnati on the first day of Ohio early voting Oct 2 to hold a rally slated to turn out the vote. We were given choice tickets to attend but unfortunately I cannot drive the 2 hours there as I'll be at work that entire day. (sad)
I think I'm gonna do this again in two weeks. Sure mine is just one person's experience and it may or may not be typical, but it was worth it for me. Bonus is I get fit enough from all that walking, to dance a high jig come election night. ;O)
Folks I hope we all do whatever we can. Romney's plan to "win-by-zingers" would be hilarious if the Republicans' venality and dirty shenanigans were not so frightening. As we are working to build up support, rightwingers mail nasty vulgar videos insulting PBO's mother to households in Ohio (you can find this info on Google, as I won't link to it). Yet it is Romney's Mormon cohort who claim to be fasting for him to win the debate and elections?
Tonight is an important fundraising deadline so I hope you chip in if you can afford to:
Donate to ActBlue
Register to Vote
Check your Voter Registration Status -- Gottavote
And Remember Early voting is already underway in some states. GOTV
Let's win this folks. Leave it all on the road as Markos likes to say!!!
***PS Mindoca has some very useful info in her new diary for anyone who wants to learn more about canvassing & GOTV