Monday, November 03, 2008

Traveling and Working in a Swing State

My wife and I went to visit family in Ohio and our route took us along the Ohio Turnpike from Toledo over to Cleveland. We also gave a few hours to the local get out the vote operation by knocking on doors and connecting with voters.

Here are a few observations:
  • This is by no means a scientific sample, but 4 years ago it seemed to me that I saw many more bumper stickers for Kerry and Bush than I did this time for Obama and McCain. The drive this time was 2 hours shorter, but even proportionately I noticed fewer stickers this cycle.
  • We did see one car with the regular McCain bumper stickers AND cardboard signs in the back and side windows urging people to "stop socialism and marxism and vote McCain - Palin." That one was my favourite. Of course we drove by and gave the old man and his wife a big thumbs down.
  • In the part of Cleveland where we were canvassing, there were far more McCain-Palin signs than Obama-Biden. Pretty working class neighbourhoods, but it seemed the McCain-iacs were more outward and forthcoming in their support.
  • Being the dutiful Democrats that we are, my wife and I were wearing Obama buttons or t-shirts for most of our drive-time including our rest-stops. This allowed us to have a few great conversations with voters. One such conversation occurred in the convenience store of a rest-stop along the turnpike with a lifelong Chicago Republican who was supporting Obama all the way (she really liked my t-shirt). She said she had witnessed him in action in Chicago and was certain he has what it takes to be President.
  • Early voting is widespread. Of the two dozen or so family members and friends we visited with this weekend, 85% of them had voted early.
What does this tell me?
  • Perhaps the re-election of/referendum on a sitting president (2004) produces more outward support (signs and bumper stickers)?
  • Maybe the fact that the stickers and signs were sold this cycle, rather than given away free in 2004 has something to do with the low visibility?
  • Maybe McCain-iacs are more rabid and angry and feel the need to vocally declare their opposition to the "socialist" black guy with the funny arab sounding name?
  • People are engaged, they are interested in this election.
  • We found there were plenty of Obama supporters who answered the door on our canvassing walk, and many of them had voted early.
  • McCain supporters who answered the door weren't overly rude, only one was really rude.
  • Obama supporters aren't angry, they seem to be hopeful, but also very motivated to finish strong.
  • I think Obama will win Ohio by 1 0r 2%.
All in all it was a good weekend. We didn't stick around for the big Obama rally and Springsteen concert, but as we were driving out of Cleveland we did see a gigantic line stretching the blocks leading into the plaza.

Get out the vote! If you haven't already, create a profile on and begin calling swing state voters, it is that easy.



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