I'm knocking on doors for Claire McCaskill's GOTV effort, in suburban St. Louis [an impressively well-organized and energetic effort, I must say], and here are some things I'm noticing as I walk/drive/jump out/talk/leave literature. Totally unscientific and anecdotal, of course:
1. The economy seems to be up-ticking: In one of the neighborhoods I walked the other day, at least 25-30% of the homes were being fixed up with new siding, driveways, fences, decks, roofs, etc. It was clearly good news for workers, as the driveways and cul-de-sacs were cluttered with pickup trucks and construction debris.
2. A vote for McCaskill does not seem to necessarily mean a vote for Obama here in suburban St. Louis. We're asking the McCaskill question first, and following with the Obama question. I've had several voters say they definitely would vote for Claire, but "still thinking about" Obama. That's disappointing. But there's such a slim-to-none chance that Obama would win Missouri that it's not all that significant locally. If Missouri can simply help hold onto the Senate by re-electing Claire, we will have done an important job.
3. The people we're focusing on [Democrats, natcherly] get that Todd Akin isn't just a neanderthal, but that he doesn't deserve to hold office. People I've talked to have spontaneously used the word "idiot," "moron" and "awful" to describe him, even though I haven't asked for their opinion of him. That's encouraging.
4. Voter suppression takes many forms, some of which are very subtle, yet very dangerous. Case in point: I knocked on a door yesterday, looking for an 18-year-old voter named Brett. A 50-ish-year-old man opened the door. I told him that I was campaigning for Claire McCaskill, and asked if Brett was around. The man--his Dad, I assume--said, "He's right here. But what's this about?" I told him again, and at that moment, a skinny kid--obviously Brett--appeared behind his Dad, looking like he wanted to talk. Dad said, "Brett hasn't made up his mind about who he's voting for." "Well, could I talk to Brett about that?" I asked. "No," said Dad emphatically, and shut the door in my face. Yikes.
Similarly, I approached a man on a riding lawn mower, showing him my McCaskill sticker, telling him what I was doing, and asking if "Julie" was home. "She doesn't want to talk to you," he said. "Can I talk to her about it," I persisted. "No," he said, and revved up the lawn mower to drown me out.
5. GOTV is labor-intensive and requires perseverance when the specific voters you're trying to reach live in non-grid, curvy suburban subdivisions, where address numbering is virtually unfathomable. It also doesn't help that the cutesy names given to the streets only add to the confusion: When every street name starts with "River," and all of them intersect via traffic circles and twisty non-linear design, you can get turned around and totally lost rather quickly, even when the campaign provides a very good map. Yesterday, it was "Riverbend," Riverridge," "Riverview." It could be a "Court," a "Drive," or a "Circle."
I'm complaining about this, but I'm not quitting. And my main point is this: I have a hard time imagining that supporters of our opponent [Todd Akin] have a ground game as good as ours and volunteers as willing to do this work as we have. And that's a good thing.
See you on the streets.
PS: If nobody reads this, because it's Saturday, and everybody is out there doing something to help elect a Democrat, I have no problem with that.