Friday, November 2, 2012

GOTV in North Carolina

When we last met, I was sitting in a Starbucks in Cary, NC, killing a little time (and a pumpkin scone!) before my lunch date with my son. A couple hours later I was speaking with likely Democratic voters in western North Carolina, thanks to VoteBuilder and the grateful staff at North Carolina Democratic Headquarters.

Lunch was great, by the way. If you like Middle Eastern food you can't go wrong at Sitti's in downtown Raleigh.

My son walked with me from the restaurant to the headquarters and then returned to work. I was just getting started.

My intent, as you know, was simply to beg for signs and stickers, but I had some time on my hands, and volunteered an hour of it to make calls.

Everyone who volunteers for a political candidate or cause has his or her special gifts. Persuasion, humor and enthusiasm all come into play when you're trying to move an undecided voter. I've canvassed door-to-door and by phone in previous elections and it's the job I dislike the most. Need a sign? I can make one. How about a flyer/poster/campaign button? I'm on it, doggone it.

So I was possibly teetering on the edge of insanity when I asked if I could phone-bank for an hour or so. Or maybe I just thought it was the right thing to do, given that North Carolina is ninth in the list of nine swing states.

Most folks I called weren't home. I left messages when I could. The script encouraged early voting and a straight Democratic ticket, and I'm all about both of those, so I was comfortable with the pitch.

The difference between likely West Virginia Democrats and likely North Carolina Democrats was that even if the Tarheel didn't want to talk, s/he didn't slam the phone down, as the Mountaineer does. Most of the time when I actually got through to someone, the person had already voted or planned to support Democrats. West Virginians are rude; North Carolinians have manners. The following lines were actually spoken to me, the first on Monday, the second yesterday:
WV Voter: "I ain't votin' for that __________ for President."
NC Voter: "I'm sorry, we've changed our party affiliation."
Thank you, NC Voter, whoever you were.

The lists are based on 2008 voting history, and a lot can happen in four years. Like, for instance, people die. It's so very, very hard to speak to a widow, but the one I called yesterday had a great attitude. I apologized profusely upon learning of her husband's passing, but she shushed me right up and said, "Oh, honey, he's probably so mad right now that he can't vote to re-elect the President!"

She made my day.

And so did the warm chocolate chip cookie from Sullivan's Steakhouse, delivered and distributed while I was there. Taking food or bottled water to your local headquarters is a terrific way to support a candidate if you're not the type to knock on doors or make calls.

Like I wrote earlier: Each of us has a gift. Wear a button, put a bumper sticker on your car, thank a volunteer (or at least don't hang up!) … be creative in your support of your candidate. I would prefer you lean to the left, but effective democracies work best when ideas come from all sides.

The right to vote is the greatest gift – fought for and won by minorities and women, but freely given to white men, some of whom would love to see it snatched away.

Don't let that happen. Early voting ends tomorrow. Election Day is Tuesday. Rock that vote. And, since I am who I am and you all know it, I would add: BARACK that vote!

Thank you.

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