a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

Split ticket weekend

Posted by Thomas Nephew on October 6th, 2008

Saturday for Barack Obama in Leesburg, Virginia; Sunday for Gordon Clark (Green) in Takoma Park, Maryland.

Marylanders — most, if not all, from Montgomery County — swamped the Loudoun County Obama headquarters in Leesburg on Saturday in two shifts.  I was on the late one, 1 p.m. from Bethesda High School (the meeting place there is now in front of the high school, not in the parking lot).  Drove over with a very interesting lady, wife of a former Republican congressman from the South.  As she explained, being progressive in the South once meant being Republican.

Loudoun County Obama HQ.
Originally uploaded by Thomas Nephew.

Anyhow, the briefing at Leesburg was a little chaotic — people kept interrupting the guy doing the briefing — but the upshot was that we were using data from the past few elections to contact sporadic, possibly persuadable voters, we wanted data even if it was indirect, and we wanted to make sure people were registered.  As in Dumfries two weeks ago, the questions were about who people were supporting (“not ‘voting for’ — people will close the door on you if you ask that”) for president, senator (Mark Warner (D) vs. Jim Gilmore (R) to replace outgoing Senator John Warner), or representative — Judy Feder vs. incumbent Frank Wolf (R).

Bank owned property, somewhere in
Originally uploaded by Thomas Nephew.

The two of us wound up in a similar neighborhood to the one I canvassed in Dumfries a couple of weeks ago — rental apartment complexville, Mr. and Ms. (Pretending They’re?) Not Home on Weekends.  Between the two of us, we knocked on about 60 doors, found 8 strong Obama supporters (2 volunteers among them), 1 leaning towards Obama, 2 McCain.  I was surprised at that, because I got both McCains, the Obama leaner and the undecided person, and just one of the strong Obamas; maybe people are likelier to open the door for an older lady than for me — even though I’m such a nice guy!

Unlike in Dumfries, this time every time I actually did speak to someone, it was the person named on the list.  The “Votebuilder” lists are quite good, but there are some glitches.  To whoever programs the software: you might as well not include “Apt 000” addresses in the printouts, OK? Also: the only “lit” (=”literature” =political fliers to stick in people’s doors if they weren’t home) they had for us to drop was a Warner/Obama flier — nothing for Judy Feder; that was a bit of a missed opportunity for that campaign.

The last observation of the day was from a birthday party Maddie went to here in Takoma Park that evening.  It must be the circles we frequent, but many of the other moms and/or dads had been out canvassing as well.  People really want this.

Today I fried my face on Carroll Avenue in Takoma Park from 10 to noon while repeating three main phrases — “Gordon Clark for Congress,” “Here he is,” and “Would you like a sticker?” — to families drifting by the Green Party booth at the Takoma Street Festival.  (See these posts — mainly this one — for why a long-time Democrat like myself is supporting Clark over Van Hollen.)  Our booth faced south, and I forgot to bring a cap.  I think I’ll pay a price tomorrow, even though I did use some sunblock.

Gordon Clark was there too, of course.  He’d been at the “Taste of Bethesda” event on Saturday, and said Chris Van Hollen came by.  The meeting was not cordial — Van Hollen told Clark to “stop lying” about him; Clark says he replied he’d be happy to debate Van Hollen whenever he liked.  I wonder what that was about — everything on the issues comparison brochure the Clark campaign has is documented.

People can be funny about political booths.  It’s their weekend, of course, and not all of us want to gather political information at a crafts, food, and music fair.  But some people pick up speed and/or veer away as they might catch something from us, while others will make a self-approving point of how much they dismiss whatever you’re doing — demonstrative handwaves of refusal, little snorts, that kind of thing.

But the people who kind of slowly walk up, looking at the signage and the table, coming to a decision — they make up for that.  I think it’s kind of fun, and kind of good, to be a part of that — encounters like that, decisions like that, they’re the little atomic units and molecule formations of politics.  I’m just there trying to help catalyze the reaction.

EDIT, 10/6: added comment about having no Judy Feder fliers.

3 Responses to “Split ticket weekend”

  1. RobertNAtl Says:

    Two young ladies of your acquaintance and I manned a voter registration table (and Obama button-selling stand) outside our neighborhood Kroger on Saturday for about 3-4 hours. The twins dispensed lollipops to anyone who registered or bought a button, and otherwise put any money in the “Obama box” and dispensed change if needed. They also drew pictures and offered them for sale on behalf of Obama. No takers, but some were throw-ins with other purchases/registrations. So the Obama volunteer army grew by three on Saturday (I think we got about 20-30 registrations).

  2. Thomas Nephew Says:

    Wow! Great work, you guys. Hope you have some pictures!

  3. Thomas Nephew Says:

    You guys need to go out registering voters more often — Jim Martin is suddenly tied with Saxby “Scumbag” Chambliss in the Georgia Senate race!

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