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Grassroots Reports from On-The-Ground Volunteers

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OffTheBus's Grassroots Correspondents are journaling their experiences as campaign volunteers and activists, detailing what they see and hear when they hit the road, troll the local mall or phone voters around the country. Humorous, poignant, and revealing, these are straight from the ground stories about what people see and hear. Read excerpts from their most recent entries below, or check out the full directory at OffTheBus' Campaign Journals feature.



Sunday I was one of a few people using a local law office that had been offered. I sat alone in a conference room with a marble table eating pizza and using a fancy phone, which turned out to be slower because I had to get access a line for each call. Quite a difference from the busy, noisy storefront with formica tables and princess phones. Some of the people I spoke to had already voted. I had three calls today to people who say they will not vote this year. "I don't vote; goodbye" said one woman, and hung up. One man said there was no one to vote for this year. He was willing to talk to me, but said Obama is not qualified to be president. He had an argument for everything including each of the candidates for other offices, and essentially was not going to let me convince him otherwise.
~ Phone Banking Becomes Second Nature by Rachel Port

Last weekend, my friends Eric and Jason and I set out from the Bay Area for Reno, Nevada as part of Barack Obama's Drive-for-Change campaign. Our mission: canvassing door-to-door for Obama. Or as we proclaimed it, somewhere around Sacramento, "Two homos and a single mom road tripping for Obama." There are only 5 electoral votes up for grabs in Nevada, but this traditionally right leaning state has been targeted as a toss-up; it was well worth our while to go there.
~ Two Homos And A Single Mom by Mary Pols



"Hi. Mrs _____, I'm Shaun. I'm a new American and I'm a volunteer for Barack Obama."
By the time Monica returned, having left Ella at the office stuffing envelopes rather than mailboxes, I'd hit my stride and it had started to rain heavily. I wore a borrowed blue poncho. People started opening their doors. We realized that in this lower middle-class area, many people were coming back from their night and morning shifts. Some of those were setting off again after a shower to their second or third jobs. One young man reported that his sister had cashed in her 401k to keep their house. Yet there were few ringing endorsements for Obama. The best I heard was - "I'm a Democrat so I'll vote for him."
~ Canvassing for Mandela and Obama in Bristol, PA by Shaun Gatter

The first Sunday of the month service was, eventually, taken from the "How Great Thou Art" hymn to--the Book of Isaiah. The church clerk instructed the entire congregation, to read a specific chapter and verse from the Book of Isaiah in the Bible. After reading the normal 'boring, sleep inducing' church annoucements--Her concentration shifted and focused on the election, in particular, Barack Obama. "Barack the vote on Tuesday, that's what we're going to do! Right? Barack the vote! We ALL need to read Isaiah, over the next couple of days. We have to KEEP GOD in this election! No weapon formed against us, shall prosper," the church clerk repeated.
~ Baracking the Vote for God by Veola Carter

So I'm Syed A. Abbas, my brother is Syed R. Abbas and my father is Syed H. Abbas. Now we filled out the change of address form with our distinct info -- Which included the full first, middle and last name, with our individual unique social security number, date of birth etc. Now my brother and I are twins. Could it be that all of us sharing the same first and last name have anything to do with our forms possibly not getting processed for any flags raised? We don't know.
~ Whole Family Doesn't Receive Voter Registration Cards by Adrienne Williams

So instead of door knocking, I've spent all my spare moments in the last few days dialing perspective voters. My swing state of choice for these chipper-voiced human robo calls is the three-electoral vote state of Montana, which used to be a red state, then last week it turned pink. Now it's white (or yellow, depending upon the color-coded map you favor).
~ Dialing The Big Sky by Celeste Fremon



But the most moving event of the day, by far, was the encounter I had with a 40-ish man with a huge Obama/Biden sign in his yard, just off a major road. He explained that he had been for Edwards and hadn't really liked Obama much, had kind of lost interest in the campaign after Edwards dropped out, but had recently been listening to Obama and has become quite an enthusiast. He told me that he is a Desert Storm vet, showed me his large POW-MIA tatoo that he has on his arm, and said that he thought McCain was supportive of Vets, but had learned otherwise, much to his dismay.
~ Small Miracles On The Campaign Trail In Sheboygan, WI by Nancy Bruski

"How many volunteers does this campaign have anyway?" another fatigued greeter asked. I hesitated, unsure if she was referring to my fellow Californians that had also driven across the border hoping to sway our closest swing state in Obama's favor. Or maybe the local volunteers too? Even though I was told Nevada had the lowest rate of volunteerism in the nation, regardless of the cause, I had a different impression after meeting my canvassing partner Maracia. She was a sixty-two year-old Nevadan, nervous but excited to knock on doors. After all she was there this weekend "because Obama asked me," she said. Like so many others she had heard Obama at rallies him pose that pointed question, "Will you knock on a few doors for me?"
~ Knock, Knock, Knocking On Nevada's Doors by Padma Atluri


When you canvass, you are right in the other person's "space," at their home. However, like Nancy Drew at her best, you also have the benefit of all the other "clues" around you. How they garden and take care of their lawn and yard. What type of vehicles are in the driveway. What is in the garage. Front door decorations. Every little bit helps, and it keeps it fun. ~ Canvassing in Virginia -- Spiderwebs and Scarecrows by Ellen Leary
Trading Reno For Chicago by Norma Aaron



Having done these journal entries for the last month, I confess to occasional ambivalent feelings about my self-chosen subject: senior citizens. I feel that too often we are ghettoized and patronized, especially women (e.g. all those 'little old lady' references). Does this 'demographic' even vote as a block? How about our other identities: female, male, wife, husband, mother, father, big city apartment dweller, home owner, naturalized citizen, news junkie? Why does one take priority over the others?
~ Everyone Who Told Me I Wouldn't Amount To Much Is Now Dead by Grace Babakhanian

Making "the Great Schlep" Saturday to Tampa, I chatted with my New Jersey cab driver on the way to the airport. He was a well-spoken British black man, and although he was well aware of how popular Barack Obama is in Europe, he seemed highly skeptical that the American public would embrace and elect this black candidate. I did get a sense that he was surprised and elated to have a white, middle-aged female passenger who was flying all the way to Florida to work for Obama.
~ My Great Schlep To Florida by Sara Louise Lazarus


We all introduced ourselves and proceeded on our hour long journey. We chatted about the election, the potential, the possibilities and the historical nature of this critical election. Since we were all African American, we were seeing this year's election through a different lens. This election holds a myriad of emotions for us. From pride, to accomplishment, to fear, anxiety and anxiousness. ~ Turning The Dial To CNN And MSNBC by Gail Turner Brown
One McCain Vote, Then Two Obama Votes by Barbara White Stack



I asked him how it was going, and Mr. Woodson indicated that everyone in this area seemed already to be a Democrat. (I guess this was obvious from the row of Obama signs I saw. In one lonely house did I see a McCain/Palin sign). Well, I asked him, is this waste of time? "Not at all," he told me. "We are focused on getting the people out there to vote."
~ Reflections On These Final Days by Paula B. Mays

The weather in Palo Alto was terrible yesterday. It poured for most of the day, flooding streets, and not letting up until later in the evening. Still, that did not deter the overflowing volunteers from standing outside the headquarters and making phone calls in the pouring rain.
~ Rain Can't Deter Outdoor Phonebankers by Stefania Pomponi Butler



For about five hours, I helped usher in a mass influx of spectators while constantly warming my hands and praying that the sun would somehow penetrate the large buildings blocking its warmth. I politely asked some in line to get rid of their homemade signs, chairs and blankets. I also informed viewers to remove all electronic devices from any pockets, bags or purses and turn them "On" for inspection at security. This request elicited several curious inquiries ranging from a bewildered "Are they taking it from us?" to a simple "Why?" I frequently assured them that their electronics were safe and only needed to be inspected to ensure that they were real. Other volunteers actively sought to register people to volunteer the last remaining week of the campaign and reminded people to vote early if possible. The nonstop volunteer work and interaction with supporters seemed to catalyze the passing of time and made any discomfort bearable.
~ A Rocky Mountain High by Michael Jee

Until this past weekend, although I had canvassed in Hammond, Portage, and East Chicago, Indiana, I did not really believe Indiana would turn blue. However, this past weekend's adventure in Indianapolis has given me high hopes, even confidence that the blue wave really is overtaking the country...even in bright red Indiana.

~ Campaign Journal: Turning Indiana Blue by Nancy Bruski




Pueblo proper and most of Pueblo County is Democratic. In speaking with one local elected official, he pointed out that nearly every elected official in Pueblo was Hispanic. For many in the Latino community, that's political progress. Whether that manifests into economic progress remains to be seen as Pueblo, like many cities, is hurting. Several days of canvassing and we've seen a little bit of everything. Homes seized by banks, alerting "No trespassing, this home has been seized" and other homes in need of repair. Several houses had signs on the front door stating they were "unfit for occupancy," the porch was nearly falling down, we only imagined what the inside looked like, as ordered by the Pueblo housing department.
~ Reporting From Pueblo, Colorado by Larry Gonzalez

We live in Boulder, where 19 out of 20 cars have Obama stickers (non-scientific poll); and 99 of every 100 people in town have or will be voting (also a non-scientific poll). And yet, you've never seen a get out the vote effort like the one being mounted here in the mountain biking-telemark skiing-organic produce- capital of the world. Dems are calling and visiting each other so often you'd think Susan Sarandon was coming to town with a truckload of free pot.
~ Inside The Boulder Beltway by Sari Levy


For a change up from the usual phone canvassing of voters in the area, I accepted an invitation from the National Call Team group on the Obama campaign site to make calls to people who have assisted the campaign in the past. My job was to call volunteers who had used the online call tool, thank them for their previous help, and ask them to continue using the tool this week. It was refreshing to speak with supporters, and even more refreshing to hear support from the other end of the line.
~ Calling Other Callers For Change by John Porter

A funny story how I found the Huffington Post really -- I started volunteering at the Headquarters (before the move to the new location) in Chicago. I walked into a new city of eager enthusiast, hopeful supporters of all colors, nationalities shapes and sizes. Walking in a little green and wide-eyed, thinking to myself, "what do I have to do?" Wow, how times have changed - from how can I help, to creating events all over Chicagoland. My first time volunteering, Huffington Post was on a few computer screens, and I asked a head volunteer coordinator, what was the Huffington Post? He begins to tell me about this community (in a New Zealander accent) and this began my interest and questions regarding how many people far and wide are making a difference in helping Sen. Obama's campaign to victory.
~ Hometown Chicago by Adrienne Williams


McCain headquarters, however, as we noticed it, was a ramshackle old hair salon with the sign "Hair Style" still posted above. It lay along a tired mall across the highway, far beyond the city center. By contrast, Obama volunteers a short distance away had been pouring into a home in the historic downtown district to share stories, cookies and oodles of campaign buttons. They spoke of occasions in which 'undecideds' said they had been wooed seven or eight times by Dems but never once by McCain supporters. People had come from all over (one couple flew from Scotland to rally city residents. Their travel blog is posted here.)
~ Celebrating In One Swing City by Pia Sawhney

Stephen rested on his rake to talk to my wife, Connie, and me, taking a moment from his seasonal suburban ritual to take part in our seasonal political ritual. This last weekend, we had returned to Pennsylvania, canvassing neighborhoods in Ft. Washington. "We're still undecided. I'll be taking a look at the candidates' voting records," he told us politely but noncommittally. We chatted a few minutes before letting Stephen return to leaf-raking, and went along to the next house on our list.
~ A Grassroots View of the Biggest Battle in Pennsylvania Since Gettysburg - Election 2008 - Fighting for Undecided Votes in Pennsylvania by James Camner


"I don't believe in coincidences. I believe in the curlicued whimsy of fate," says Sam Tyler, the character actor Jason O'Mara plays on my favorite new television show Life on Mars. He's accepting the philosophy of a ditzy post-hippie who's adopted him when he lands in 1973 after a car accident and a bump on the head transports him from 2008.

Was it coincidence or the curlicued whimsy of fate that landed me on the same doorstep of a man I had canvassed just weeks earlier? What are the odds? There I was with eight other people this past Sunday, standing out in the warm fall sun--the only nice weather we had had for days--while the Seth handed us our packets. Randomly. Those left over from canvassing the day before. Randomly. Our partners were chosen. Randomly. And then, while my partner drove, I divvied up our lists. Randomly. And looked down at my list only to find not only was I in a neighborhood in which I had traveled before but I was about to knock on a door I recognized.

"Hi," I said, as Richard G. opened his front door. "Remember me?"

~ The Randomness of the American Dream by Lisa Solod Warren

What we found in the blocks we were sent to was a neighborhood that had been primarily Polish, with African Americans now living there also. There were several empty and boarded up homes, and we were told by a neighborhood woman who cared for several of the kids of working moms during the week that the boarded up homes had occurred within the last couple of years. "It has gotten bad here, so bad," she told us, explaining that we would not find volunteers as everyone was either working several jobs every hour they could or taking care of kids.
~ Spending the Saturday Between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur With Obama by Sarakay Smullens


"I just got a 58 year old first-time voter," she shouts. "And she's voting for Obama! She was so happy I called her. She said only Republicans have been calling. She wanted to tell me she's made up her mind to vote for Obama."

~ Phonebanking In "Real" Virginia by Lisa Solod Warren

We then talked about the pockets of McCain and Obama support seen through lawn signs dotting Montgomery County. "It's McCain country in a lot of places, but did you know that the McCain office--not too far from here--is closed? I couldn't see any lights on in there. Nobody seemed to be working in there. Not like the Obama office." I said, "I haven't seen the McCain office, but yeah, the Obama people are definitely up and working."

~ Lights Out at McCain Office in Central PA by Alexandra Dufour


Some people were a little cagier. One woman said, "Well, I prefer not to say who I'm going to vote for. But I'm not going to vote for that other guy."

"John McCain," I asked.

"Yes," she said.

Similarly, another woman told me, "I am not going to tell you who I'm voting for because that's private. But I will say this: I don't like John McCain."

Precious few responders let on to being with the GOP. But one woman told me this: "You can't persuade me to vote for Barack Obama. I am a registered Republican."

She paused, then added, "I won't be voting this time."

~ Pennsylvania Voters Reticent...Sort Of by Barbara White Stack

Walking through my neighborhood, I noticed one home with a McCain/Palin sign, an "Another Family for McCain" sign and, yes, an Obama/Biden sign, all in the same front yard. There's at least one voter in that house who's willing to speak up for his or herself and for change. (When I went to snap a picture, I noticed that another Obama sign had shown up . . . I guess that "Another Family for McCain" sign is wishful thinking on somebody's part).

~ McCain Husbands and Obama Wives by Lori Jewett


Skip said that because of this many homeless people have been registered and will likely vote in this election. But, Watkins, an African American, claimed no allegiance to a particular candidate, "Well" he said to that question, "I don´t like to say, these things are supposed to be secret." His concerned seemed focused more on empowering the homeless in the election.

~ What Does It Mean to Love Our Neighbors? Paula B. Mays

Custom Obama T-shirts were being made, by an artist who donated the paints and stencils and most of the labor. Live music was provided by guitarist-singer Pablo Peregrina, including a rewrite of La Bamba as La Obamba, and an original song, You Rock My Vote, Obama. There was even a display of black history memorabilia, from a hardback of Uncle Tom's Cabin to a deck of Barack Obama playing cards.

~ Tucscon Artists Convene and Create for Obama by Karen Funk Blocher


So yes, I'm still looking for registered Republicans -- on bank lines, at checkout counters and on buses - with no success. But then, a few days into the week, someone in my building enters the elevator wearing a McCain button, the first campaign button I've seen anywhere. This is a handsome elderly man, always formally dressed, who is usually accompanied by his frisky terrier. The dog is absent on this occasion. We nod at each other politely as actual conversation, beyond the weather and sports, is not encouraged in New York apartment buildings, for fear that entanglements will follow. Still, I can't resist commenting on his button.

"I see you're for McCain. Do you mind if I ask if you're a registered Republican.?"

"Why do you want to know?" he asks suspiciously.

I tell him that I'm keeping a journal for HuffingtonPost.

"You mean the outfit run by that Adrienne Huffington?"

"Arianna, yes."

"They're a gang of liberals, aren't they?

~ One McCain Supporter Found in Manhattan by Grace Babakhanian

One of the shotgun houses, with great exterior yard decorations. An Obama sign. A "welcome to the nuthouse" sign, a doormat stating "thanks for swimming by" (how appropriate), a single row of corn growing against the garage, a full construction site of Tonka trucks re-organizing a huge pile of woodchips next to a recently-cut giant tree stump. Tina, it turns out works in the Public Defenders office.

~ Canvassing Virginia Through Rain, Sleet or Scantily Clad Undecideds by Ellen Leary


When I asked her if she said anything to them. She shook her head. "You can't change people like that." I deflated instantly, and she saw it--leading Mary to reassure me. "Don't worry, honey. Obama's got my vote." Not everyone's like those close-minded women. "Look, I'm not racist." I couldn't help but smile. At last a perfect moment in an otherwise trepidatious weekend. If I had only left just then.

But Mary couldn't stop herself. "I mean I like everyone," she went on to say. "Except Mexicans."

~ Race Matters in Nevada by Padma Atluri

Ultimately, thirty-six high school and college students participated. There were some whose love of performing trumped politics. Meghan Kelly's parents are staunch Republicans. However, Meghan was cast in a duet with Wicked's Julie Reiber, and this was an offer she couldn't refuse. "Broadway for Obama is giving me an amazing opportunity to work closely with Broadway professionals and to observe and learn from them. No kids my age get this chance." In fact, the local talent got to be onstage with thirty-two Broadway singers who gave up their day off to travel to Easton from Manhattan, including Tony Award winner Priscilla Lopez, currently starring in "In The Heights," and Brandon Dixon, Tony nominee for "The Color Purple."

~ Broadway for Obama Sparks Controversy in Lehigh Valley, PA by Sara Lazarus


After we had gotten acquainted and listened to each other a little on the phones, he said he hasn't decided about his vote for president. He said he needs to do more research, he's been too busy to pay much attention to the campaign, and what he knows he's gotten from TV news, which he knows is slanted. I said if he had some questions I could answer, I'd be glad to do so. After a while, he said he didn't think Obama's ideas about taxing businesses making more than $250,000 would be good for the economy. This was not what I expected.

~ Talking Tax Policy With An Undecided by Rachel Port

"I'm not planning to vote and I don't intend to vote. That black boy that's running, so the white man can just kill him---is crazy! That old sneaky, untruthful white man and slutty white woman---can't be trusted. They will put who they want in there, anyway. That black boy and those old white folks---can't fix this mess, anyhow. That no good Bush has made it too bad for everybody. So, you tell me---Why should I waist my time voting?"

~ Voters Resigned to Apathy in Greensville, S.C. Veola Carter


We're canvassing the trailer parks and low-rent houses of the back streets of Charlottesville, VA, just blocks from the million dollar homes on Park Street. These are roads I've never been on though I've lived on the outskirts of town for twelve years and know Park Street well. I was put off by the campaign plan of visiting every supporter four times in the last few weeks before the election. But after seeing some of the blank stares when I remind people to vote, I think it's not such a bad idea.

~ Canvassing in C'Ville by Gail South

We decided to hoof it, since our entire canvass was within walking distance. Immediately after we stepped out of the car, the skies opened up. I took an umbrella, which was wrecked from the wind within ½ hour of our 4 hour canvass, but at least kept me half dry, and the clipboard somewhat covered. Adrian looked like he had just emerged from a swimming pool within 5 minutes. The truly weird thing about the rain was it seemed to let up when we were under a porch or portico, or upstairs inside in an apartment building. Only to re-deluge when we were back in the open. Spooky. Happy Halloween.

~ Almost Heaven, Wet Virginia by Ellen Leary


The joy on Laura's face is palpable. A stranger, a first time middle-aged voter on the other end of the phone has made her night.

~ Phonebanking in "Real" Virginia by Lisa Solod Warren

A frizzy-haired older woman, who spoke with the lilt of the Emerald Isle, had brought her companion, a tiny, fuzzy lapdog that stayed by her side throughout the classes. While the dog sat in her warm lap or gazed out the window, his owner told a powerful story of being raised in an intensely political environment in Ireland, working as a activist for women's rights in her homeland before emigrating to the US, remaining here as a resident alien for over 25 years. But like many others at Camp Obama, her long-dormant political instincts were revitalized the first time she heard Obama speak at the Democratic convention in 2004. She could feel it in her bones and she knew that this one was a keeper. When Obama announced his candidacy for President, she initiated the process, and was finally sworn in as a United States citizen in January of this year, for the sole reason that she wanted to vote for Barack Obama in the February California Presidential primary election.

~ Camp Obama, GOTV and Phonebanking in Northern California by Pamela Mays McDonald


...we were able to register people who might have fallen through the cracks. Three people that we registered were down on their luck and were now residents of the homeless shelter. Two of the ladies that we registered were barely in their twenties, had recently moved from Ohio, and were apparently not doing well here in their new home. Both girls were interested in voting, but weren't sure about the process. They were registered in Ohio, and were under the impression that their registration was good here in West Virginia as well.

~ Canvassing in West Virginia by John Porter

One fantastic young woman said to me "Oh, I am so glad you are one of mine, I am so tired of fighting with my husband and mother. Sara Silverman has the great schlep but, where do you go when your parents are rednecks?!"

~ What Do You Do If Your Parents Are Rednecks? by Tania Arias



"I'm undecided." (Much discussion on leaning one way or another.) "I'm still undecided." (More discussion initiated by Lorene Mae.) "Okay, I'll put you down as undecided, Lorene Mae... have a bless'd day, ma'am." "No, don't hang up. You're a nice lady... I'm undecided...but...it's not Obama."

~ Another Bless'd Weekend by Ellen Leary

They instructed us to simply thank McCain voters and not try to convince them, and generally not to talk about McCain or Palin but to keep the focus on Barack and ask the undecided which specific issues were of the greatest concern. We were distributing three pamphlets: one on Obama's tax plan, one on his health care plan and one on Economic Security. The head of all the Montgomery county offices is an impressive young man (18!) named Gabe who has deferred his freshman year at Harvard to work for the campaign.

~ Focusing On Undecideds And Letting McCain-Palin Supporters Go Their Merry Way by Elissa Middleton



"The bathroom," our busdriver Jerry announced, "is like an outhouse. So don't use it unless it's an emergency. An' if you do have to use it, put the lid down. That'll help keep the smell down for the people in the back." Five rows from the back of the bus, I observed those around me looking uncomfortably at one another.
~ Texans for Obama Take New Mexico by Storm by Rachel Farris

One man in a pick-up truck, pulled up to the yield sign and smiled at me broadly. As I smiled back, dripping with sarcasm he said, "Sorry, I don't do socialism." "Neither do I," I told him. "We're not talking about socialism . . .maybe you should LOOK UP THE MEANING OF THE WORD," I shouted as he drove off. Of course, then I remembered that I wasn't supposed to yell or be rude while wearing my Obama volunteer badge. Whoops.
~ Negative Campaign Tactics Backfiring? by Lori Jewett



Today, on a day that was as beautiful as I can remember with the sun shining and foliage in full bloom, I hit the "black gold" for a canvasser - I convinced someone to vote for my candidate.
~ Canvasssing Red County, New Hampshire by David Smolen

Last Saturday I went to Allentown, PA with a group of 23 others from New York Latinos for Obama. Since NY's pretty much in the bag for Obama, we were assigned the next closest city with a large Latino population. Allentown also happens to be the third largest city in PA.
~ Canvassing Latino Homes in Allentown, PA by Gabriela Lazzaro



The prize for the regular volunteers was guaranteed seats at the Obama/Hillary event on Monday. If volunteers complete a walk pack today or if they make 250 calls today they will be given reserved seats. I had 109 knocks on doors. The actual contact rate is around 50 or 60 per cent in my areas.
~ Getting Out the Vote in Florida by Jerry Waxman

That's when I offered to take my laptop home and start designing Obama buttons. "Middle Class for Obama," "Book Lovers for Obama" and (my favorite) "Barkers for Barack Obama," featuring my dogs' pictures, were among the initial designs. The line has expanded considerably since then in response to people's requests. (You can see and download them from my gallery here.) Another volunteer named Barb is in charge of the button production. Each of us loaned a 2 1/4" button maker to the campaign, but she orders the parts, creates some of the designs and keeps an eye on what sells.
~
Making Buttons For Obama Supporters
by Karen Funk Blocher



My afternoon of canvassing is rather lackluster. I return to the office to find a man in an apron out front with a gas grill cooking up buffalo burgers and bratwurst, and inside a table so laden with goodies that it could make Emeril weep- fingerling potatoes, field green salad, desserts, casseroles and more.
~ A Week's Worth Of Canvassing In Santa Fe by Annrenee Jones

"Hi. We Voted." This is how one man I called this morning answered the phone. Obviously, this was someone with caller ID who knew the drill. This was my fourth week phone-banking in the northwest campaign office of the Democratic party here in Tucson, AZ, and though we have targeted different demographic groups and used several scripts, the focus has been encouraging registered Democrats and Independents to vote by mail.
~ Already Voted, Already Voted, Already Voted by Rachel Port



She said she'd spent hours researching the two candidates' policies and had come down for Obama. Also, she said, she had a 22- year-old son with Down Syndrome and felt an Obama administration would be better for him than a McCain-Palin one, despite Palin's constant assertions that she would watch out for special needs children as the mother of an infant with Down's.
~ Canvassing in Western Pennsylvania by Barbara White Stack

When the subject of race is introduced, Jack, the former judge and college professor, says that if we elect a black president, it will boost our standing in the world. "Obama is a remarkable man who happens to be black," he says. Jack compares the Democratic candidate to FDR "who was the right man for those troubled times after the Crash, and I think Obama has the same qualities to cope with these times."
~ New York Seniors Remember the Great Depression by Grace Babakhanian



Weeks after the article was posted, I received notification of a response to my article from IVillage, so I went to the cite with interest to see what it said. And lo, a response from Barbie3boys said in part: "I will look to find a few articles that will not support the article you have referenced. Having Palin (a working mom - of a handicapped infant no less, I do not believe what is stated in this article is fact at all. In fact, I have read numerous other articles that dispute your article. The have HUGE concerns over Mr Obama...His middle name is Husane [sic], his terrorist ties that he does not deny, his wife's comments "I am now finally proud to be an American", his muslim background, his minister stating "G D America, oh my gosh I don't think I need to say more. America is NOT ready for a Muslim president!!!!
Conversations With iVillage Barbie by Paula B. Mays

One man in a pick-up truck, pulled up to the yield sign and smiled at me broadly. As I smiled back, dripping with sarcasm he said, "Sorry, I don't do socialism." "Neither do I," I told him. "We're not talking about socialism . . .maybe you should LOOK UP THE MEANING OF THE WORD," I shouted as he drove off. Of course, then I remembered that I wasn't supposed to yell or be rude while wearing my Obama volunteer badge. Whoops.
~Negative Campaign Tactics Backfiring? by Lori Jewett



Today, on a day that was as beautiful as I can remember with the sun shining and foliage in full bloom, I hit the "black gold" for a canvasser - I convinced someone to vote for my candidate.
~Canvasssing Red County, New Hampshire by David Smolen

Last Saturday I went to Allentown, PA with a group of 23 others from New York Latinos for Obama. Since NY's pretty much in the bag for Obama, we were assigned the next closest city with a large Latino population. Allentown also happens to be the third largest city in PA.
~Canvassing Latino Homes in Allentown, PA by Gabriela Lazzaro



The prize for the regular volunteers was guaranteed seats at the Obama/Hillary event on Monday. If volunteers complete a walk pack today or if they make 250 calls today they will be given reserved seats. I had 109 knocks on doors. The actual contact rate is around 50 or 60 per cent in my areas.
~Getting Out the Vote in Florida by Jerry Waxman

That's when I offered to take my laptop home and start designing Obama buttons. "Middle Class for Obama," "Book Lovers for Obama" and (my favorite) "Barkers for Barack Obama," featuring my dogs' pictures, were among the initial designs. The line has expanded considerably since then in response to people's requests. (You can see and download them from my gallery here.) Another volunteer named Barb is in charge of the button production. Each of us loaned a 2 1/4" button maker to the campaign, but she orders the parts, creates some of the designs and keeps an eye on what sells.
~Making Buttons For Obama Supporters by Karen Funk Blocher



My afternoon of canvassing is rather lackluster. I return to the office to find a man in an apron out front with a gas grill cooking up buffalo burgers and bratwurst, and inside a table so laden with goodies that it could make Emeril weep- fingerling potatoes, field green salad, desserts, casseroles and more.
~A Week's Worth Of Canvassing In Santa Fe by Annrenee Jones

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"Hi. We Voted." This is how one man I called this morning answered the phone.
Obviously, this was someone with caller ID who knew the drill. This was my fourth week phone-banking in the northwest campaign office of the Democratic party here in Tucson, AZ, and though we have targeted different demographic groups and used several scripts, the focus has been encouraging registered Democrats and Independents to vote by mail.
~Already Voted, Already Voted, Already Voted by Rachel Port


Janette and I have phone banked, canvassed, we are team leaders, and have hosted visiting campaigners who have helped with canvassing the last three weeks.

I have canvassed in 100 degree weather, and last Sunday had to wear gloves. I've been bit in the ass by a dog; Had one elderly gentleman tell me "I don't vote for n**gers or Republicans." And have had good people bless me for doing what I'm doing and given me a large bunch of fresh basil that I made into pesto.
~ Canvassing in Colorado by Gary Lobdell

She came to the door and remained behind the screen as I identified myself and said I was from the union and was visiting union households to get a feel for where members stood in the presidential election. She hesitated. It was clear she didn't want to reveal her position. Usually, that meant a supporter of John McCain.

"Well, as you probably know, both the AFL-CIO, and the United Steelworkers, the union I belong to, have endorsed Barack Obama. . . ," I said.

She gave a sigh of relief. But still clearly nervous, she looked both ways, as if to make sure her neighbors were not watching, then whispered, "We're Obama supporters. But you don't say it out here. This is Republican country."
~ Meeting the Neighbors By Barbara White Stack

At the end of the appointment, the doctor stood up in front of me, and as I moved my scarf, my large Obama button came into view. When I saw him glance at the button, I asked in an obviously facetious tone: "May I assume that this button will in no way compromise my surgical care?"

Suddenly this hitherto composed, 50-something professional reverted to boyhood somewhere south of my 9 and 10 year-old nephews. He stood still, his arms at his sides and began to bellow.

"I'm so confused! I'm so confused!" (And then once more, with feeling...)"I'm so confused! I was thinking it was O.K. to go with McCain, and then I got an email from a friend in Alaska who says Palin is a total nutcase!"
~ Common Sense by Connie Allenbury

"But then things began to slowly change. People seemed to want to talk. To keep me on the phone. An older veteran was having trouble with his insurance and was in grave danger of losing his house; his local congressman had promised to help but hadn't done much. What could I do? An eighty year old woman, lively and energetic and sounding much younger than her years, admitted that she had been raised in West Virginia and that voting for a black man was giving her pause, even though Obama was "intelligent, articulate and clearly the best man for the job."

~ "The View from the Valley" by Lisa Solod Warren



"I had joined the Obama efforts and for a week I worked with the kids who are leading the crusade to elect the first African-American President and save the country and "take back the White House" as they say. And I certainly don't mean 'kids' in any sort of derogatory way, but as an older guy from the Sixties and Seventies, to me people in their twenties and even early thirties are kids. But these are kids I was inspired by, led by and who I worked side by side with. Surrounded by young people who were very much involved and on top of the presidential campaign, being paid bottom wages, I had joined them to share their sweat, pain and pleasure in working our butts off for Barack Obama."
~ "Runnin' With The Obama Kids" by Frank Gormlie

We arrived at the makeshift Reno Obama staging area early on Saturday morning. The main office is located downtown but the local person said that so many Californians were flooding them every weekend that they had to move their staging operation to a warehouse of a supporter to accommodate the massive crowd of volunteers that showed up. There was easily over 1,000 of us!
~ "Hundreds of fellow Californians Invade Nevada" by Eric Edenfield



"Robert came to our voter registration booth with a sad look on his face, to announce that he wished he could vote for Obama, but he couldn't. When asked why not, he responded that he could not vote because he 'had a felony.' I asked him if he had finished serving his time ('Oh, a long time ago!') and if he was currently on probation or parole ('No, I finished with all that years ago'). So I informed him that yes, he was indeed eligible to vote and that I would register him right then and there, even help him to understand the procedure. As he painstakingly started to fill out the form, placing every letter in the correct box, and squinting his eyes to read the small print, he abruptly stopped, put the pen down, and looked at me with watery, fearful red eyes. 'I won't get in trouble for doing this, will I?'"
~ Young San Francisco Does Its Part for Obama While Dancing by Pamela Mays McDonald

The first lady (age 72) was still undecided but leaning towards Senator Obama. She said that her husband does not want Obama "because he will take his hunting gun." I explained that Mr. Obama would do no such thing and that the only thing he wants is to make sure that AK-47s and illegal arms do not fall in the hands of disturbed individuals or criminals. Law abiding citizens, with legal permits, will not be disarmed. I even volunteered to give her my home phone number to call, even at 3:00 am, if ever Mr. Obama comes to take their gun away.

~ Fear And Loathing Heard At The Phonebank by Tania Arias



"So our briefer went through the paper in our manila folder and explained our duties--how we really want to speak to undecided voters and convince them to vote for Senator Obama, and Senator Mark Warner, while we were at it. We were instructed how to record findings immediately so they could be entered into the database right away and new manila folders prepared for tomorrows flock of canvassers. We were instructed to try to speak to both parties in a household, because in a lot of cases they have found, the husband has been for McCain but the wife would like to vote for Senator Obama and appreciates receiving more information from canvassers.
~ I'd Rather Do Data Entry by Paula B. Mays

My neighborhood team leader, who's been volunteering for Obama since 2007, keeps talking about how all this organizing is not just to get Obama elected but it's for after the election too. It's about meeting and recognizing and remembering the people who live around us. All the people on my neighborhood team live literally like two doors down or 400 yards away from me, but I've been here three years and probably would never have met them if I hadn't volunteered with the Obama campaign. After canvassing these neighborhoods, and recruiting other volunteers to canvass with us, I'm meeting more and more people in the area and it's been totally affirming. I've started recognizing people at the grocery store, and people in cars, and on the street. It turns out people are essentially kind, open, and supportive, and we all want basically the same things, we just want things to be ok. And also to make sure Obama gets elected.

~ Canvassing A Detroit Ghost Town by Danielle Aubert



"One of the supporters whom I will never likely forget is a woman in her late sixties who lives in a senior citizen high-rise nearby. She had told me that while she would love to volunteer for the campaign, she didn't feel that she could. She's had two strokes in the last four years and has had to relearn how to talk and walk and still has trouble getting around. Concerned that she might not be able to get to the polls come election day, I asked her if she would need a ride or some assistance. She assured me that "No, no, I'll get there. I vote at the firehouse right next door. The only thing that might get in the way is if I get sick or something." Then she quickly and emphatically assured me, "Don't you worry though, I'll still get there even if I have to crawl the whole way. Nothing is going to stop me from casting my vote."
~ Northeast Pennsylvania's Enthusiasm Factor by Lori Jewett

Thursday, the day of the rally, I arrived a few hours early at the Campaign for Change office to make some voter contact calls. Sue, one of the other dedicated volunteers in the office, brought in copies of the new poll for the state. It seemed like for the last few weeks we felt like we were fighting an uphill battle, since the previous poll had McCain at an advantage in the state. However, it appears that the tides have changed here in the Mountain State--the new poll has Sen. Obama in an eight point advantage (50-42 percent) over McCain. That served to pump us all up for the big event.
~ Volunteer Whirlwind in West Virginia by John Porter



"Shelly was in her 30's, energetic and attractive. Excited by the the recent debates, we asked her if she'd watched. 'No,' she said, she'd 'been too busy.' So we plunged into the all-important question, who was she voting for in November? Her face clouded over, and she said, 'I don't really like either of them. I don't like McCain, but I don't like your guy either.' It was then we realized she'd probably overheard our private conversation earlier and already knew our preference. What we didn't realize until much later, was that this was the first of many times she couldn't bring herself to say Obama's name! ...your guy!' Uh oh."
~ Otherness in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania by Sara Lazarus

Despite growing up here, my month in the Obama Army has shown me parts of my city I never knew existed. To be frank, mostly that's because these are areas that there is no reason to go to. These are the neighborhoods that, when I was in High School, I wouldn't even drive through. I remember one night as a young driver when I lost my course and ended up right where the Obama office is now, in East Liberty. I blew through every red light in my panic to escape. But, this is a war that is fought block-by-block, knock-by-knock, voter-by-voter, and if I am given a map and a list of people, I go. What has been amazing to me is that I do so fearlessly. Working for Obama gives me this aura of confidence and invincibility. I'm a man on a mission, delivering the salvation of our nation. Sketchy stairway? Abandoned house? I go and knock. Poor, depressing, eerily quiet? I go and knock. Rabid dogs barking and pawing at the door? I go and knock.
~ Riding the "Enthusiasm Gap" Home To Pittsburgh by Ryan Kushner



"Marvin is a retired judge with a silvery head of hair and a handlebar moustache, who remains remarkably slim and fit, despite living in a handsome brownstone that is even closer to Zabar's than I am. Is he still a Republican? 'Yes, although I'm registered Independent,' he says, admitting to occasionally splitting a ticket. 'So who are you voting for this year?' He surprises me by revealing that, not only will he be voting for Obama-Biden, but that for the first time in his life he has made a political contribution -- to the Obama campaign. I ask him why.
~ Looking for Republicans on Manahattan's Upper West Side by Grace Babakhanian

At my son's wedding in Florida Saturday night I unwittingly ran smack into the brick-wall ideology of the rigid right, head-first at about 100 mph.

After a sweet, poignant ceremony and a storm of blinding digital flashes capturing the adorable couple in their special moment, we milled about with our various adult beverages, meeting our respective new family members. At the buffet table I could not help but hear a conversation of my nascent in-laws.

"Well, everybody's talking about Sarah Palin and her not having any ex-PEER-i-unce, and I'm sayin' who evuh hearrrd of Bah ROCK Oh BA-UM AH, until this last spring ? I mean, whey-ah did he coooome from and what has he evah doooone?", asks my new cousin, who shall remain nameless in the interest of marital longevity for my second son.
~ My New Florida In-Laws by Susi Franco



"Laura went over to talk to him, as I ID'd my side of the street. I came back about fifteen minutes later to find Laura and the elderly man still in his driveway, but now they were both crying. The 82 year-old man had his pension funds with AIG and he had been told to not expect any more checks. He also had seen a heart specialist and the VA would not pay the $440 bill. He said that he was voting for Obama, as were all his children, their spouses and his grandchildren."
~ The Audacity Of A Nationwide "Chicago Machine" by Martha Miller

As I called newjersyans I was rather spellbound by their hearts, their thoughts shared in great emotion. I spoke mostly to single moms who were working two and three jobs to support their families. Not because I had a list of single moms to call, it's just that only the single moms were willing to talk about how they are going to vote. No one else seemed to have the interest in this election, or at least the willingness to open up about it. Some husbands answered and passed my call along to the women I was reaching out to. These women, in most cases with their husbands in the background, quietly, meekly said, "I just can't talk about that right now." So I just wished them well and thanked them, hoping they'd excuse my brief intrusion. I certainly didn't want to turn any of them off from voting, wherever their loyalties lie. Not one man on the list would engage in discussion. Many just didn't pick up their phones. Understandable. Still, I was surprised.
~ Single Moms And Me Talking About Obama " by Deb Davison



"In closing, Timberlake spoke about high taxes and joked, 'I already get taxed for things I DON'T believe in. I don't mind being taxed for things that I do believe in.' He also joked about not going to college, which made some students laugh and others look at each other uncomfortably. He and Jessica Biel were both very gracious and extremely down to earth, taking time after the rally to talk to people and sign autographs."Outside Nevada volunteers for the most part, who made up a huge part of the audience were happy for the photo op, but saddened by the ground organizers who used them as props. They, myself included, went to Nevada to knock on doors, make voter contact and increase Obama's chances of winning the swing state, not to spend five hours of a Saturday morning standing around in the cold doing nothing. It was clear, by the numbers present, that the crowd would have been embarrassingly small had we not attended."
~ Justin Timberlake -- He's Got His Vote In A Box by Wendy Carrillo.

Undecideds were universally, well, embarrassed. It was as though they felt bad about not knowing at this stage of the game. It quickly became clear to us that a good part of our job was to be supportive of their process, asking whether they needed any help, up to and including registration and early voting assistance. We were parental to the 19 year-old who wasn't sure if she was registered. We talked taxes with an older gentleman who was rightfully confused about whether or not he was going to be hurting more or less after inauguration day. And we promised more information and help to all of them.
~ "I'll Handle This Babe by Kristian Hammond
"The most interesting place I visited was Starbucks (yes, this one was still operating). A bunch of young people in their early twenties had shoved some tables together and were just "hangin' out." It was after 5:00 P.M. and I was tired of walking. I was invited to join them and registered four of them immediately. Most of them were UCF grads that were looking for work besides flipping burgers or doing hair. That led to a spirited discussion led by me of the Clinton economy which they were entirely unfamiliar with. I got several promises that they would vote for Obama, so we'll see what happens."
~ Something Old, Something New by Jerry Waxman

My girlfriend, Alison, and I tried the Obama "Neighbor to Neighbor" approach of speaking to your neighbors before and after the Vice Presidential debate whenever an opening came up at the gym, or outside in front of our apartment in the large complex we live in. It felt like an echo chamber, much like work, and I counted six visible Obama signs peering from windows, not counting our own of course. I saw one McCain bumper sticker on a Jeep Cherokee. Our immediate neighbor got tense and refused to say who he was supporting to both us and the energetic young, female, African American canvasser who appeared within that time as well. She said she was motivated and excited for the first time, and seemed genuinely happy that we were registered and excited ourselves.
~ Coattail Effect Making Impact in Virginia by Dennis J. Seese



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