Electioneering in Carroll Gardens

[where: 317 Hoyt St., Brooklyn, NY 11231]
Electioneering in CG

I stood at the corner of Hoyt and Union St. outside the polling place at PS 32 this morning holding my Barack Obama sign and wearing my Vote Obama sticker. I looked something like my girlfriend in this picture below, except imagine me instead of her.

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It was a rather pleasant morning. We got dozens of thumbs up, nods, smiles, and exclamations of “you got my vote” from passersby on their way in. Since most people in the area were already on their way to vote and were clearly opinionated New Yorkers, I don’t think we changed any minds. Yet, I think our presence meant something. We had lots of pleasant conversations with all kinds of people. There wasn’t a Clinton supporter or sign in sight, and there were many Obama volunteers milling around the neighborhood with their big blue stickers on. If elections have anything to do with the visibility of the brand, then Obama is doing something right in Brooklyn.

And apparently there’s something about the human touch that matters to people. For evidence (however anecdotal), see this story from a close friend of mine who has been making phone calls on behalf of the Obama campaign in Chicago.

I have been doing some volunteer work with Senator Obama’s campaign the past few days. There’s a huge room in a building across the street from the Sears Tower equipped with tons of phones, computers, and some furniture. You are given a call sheet comprised of names, numbers, and polling locations. You are provided a script to work off of that includes pertinent facts about polling schedules and registration. Tonight, after New Jersey went to sleep, I started calling Kansans.

Most people listen to you politely and wish you a good evening. Some engage you; still others yell at you. But every 20 calls or so, someone surprises you. I spoke with a woman whose response to “Have you considered whom you will be supporting?” was “hmmm…gosh…I just can’t figure it out.” I asked her if there was one specific issue that she felt was most important, she said the economy. After going over some details of Obama’s stimulus package I segued into the standard talking points about wholesale change and long-term solutions. She sort of agreed. We spoke for over 15 minutes.

Then she asked me about the room I was calling from.

I told her there were over 400 people with me: black, white, yellow, brown; old, young; gay, straight; amputees in wheelchairs, state senators; rich, poor, sitting on the floors or standing, using their cell phones, calling as many people across the country as they could. She breathed audibly and said, “wow.” I told her I was calling from Chicago. She said I was the forth person to call her about tomorrow’s caucus, from St. Louis, from New England, from California, and now Illinois: all Obama volunteers. She asked me if I was getting paid, I told her none of us were. She said she had not received one phone call from any other candidate. She told me a friend of hers got one call from the Clinton campaign, and it was a machine.

She said, “that says a lot to me. I think I’ll vote for Obama tomorrow. Do you know where I can caucus?” She never had before. After giving her the address, start time, and instructions I jokingly added, “you know, you have to be a registered democrat to vote for Obama, but you can do so at the caucus location, so make sure to tell all your republican friends that it’s not too late to crossover,” and I chuckled.

She got serious and said, “Are you joking?”

I said “of course I am, ma’am.”

And she replied, “I AM a registered republican.”

…took my breath away…

Then, “so, tell me again how to re-register democrat…”

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~ by jaredran on February 5, 2008.

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