Monday, November 3, 2008

Phone Banking

I went to Virginia to volunteer for Obama last week. I had been hoping to go door to door, but apparently they don't do that in the afternoons, which makes sense. So instead I ended up phone banking (which I could have done from the comfort of my home through the Obama website). I made calls for about an hour and a half and in all of that time spoke to only four people. Phone banking is a deadening experience. But the four conversations I had were actually a nice break, and occasionally amusing. Of those four, three were Obama supporters. I was calling people the campaign had identified as being "sporadic" or "persuadable" voters, so this ratio was in no way indicative of a more general polling sample. The fourth person was still undecided, or really, didn't want to talk to me then since she was at work. One of the three Obama supporters identified herself actually as a Hillary supporter who "wouldn't vote for a Republican if you paid me," but wasn't excited about Obama himself. I told her I was also a Hillary supporter, but was now supportive of the nominee. And despite my original reluctance to jump on the Obama bandwagon, it's true that I'm now supportive of Obama, and desperately hope that he wins tomorrow. In fact, after hearing the latest whispering about Obama's potential to create a "new New Deal," hopefully to include the infrastructure necessary to actually use clean energy, I'm excited about Obama.

So, despite the dull, uninspiring, unhelpful feelings that come with phone banking, I'll be back at it tomorrow (and possibly tonight). Tomorrow I'll hopefully be doing the voter outreach in Virginia in person - reminding forgetful folks that it's election day and talking to the still undecided voters (despite my disbelief that either group exists). And just in case I forgot myself that it's election day tomorrow, I just got a robocall from Obama thanking me for volunteering and encouraging me to keep doing voter outreach through tomorrow. Here's to the ground game.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Sorelle,

I've also been phone banking for Obama, and while at first I found it deadening to get 10 wrong numbers, leave 2 messages, and talk to no real people in 15 minutes, over time I still found it exciting.

It helps if you try to think about each person. Even if it's stereotyping: where do they live? Does their name indicate a particular heritage? Are they approximately your age? All these things can make even just leaving messages more fun.

Also, remember this: in 2004, we (the Dems) lost Ohio by an average of 9 voters per precinct. If you make 200 phone calls and only talk to 20 people in person, and even two of them go to the polls who otherwise wouldn't have, then it can take as few as 5 volunteers per precinct to change the outcome of the election. (Granted, since there are 11360 precincts in Ohio, thats ~55000 volunteers, but that's very doable.)