Sunday, October 24, 2004

I'm back from my field trip to the friendly neighborhing swing state. And everyone there was friendly, including the die-hard Bush supporters. It was, however, totally exhausting, not to mention dehydrating. I woke up this morning and thought that I had a terrible hangover, before I realized that I hadn't actually consumed any alcoholic beverages recently. If I'm going to go back, I'm going to have to bring water and think about better sun protection. I feel a little bit like I've been hit by a truck.

Anyway, after taking the bus to swing state central, I was dropped in a residential neighborhood. My job was to knock on every door and ask the person who answered if he or she was planning to vote for Kerry. If the person said no, I was supposed to thank them and leave. If he or she said yes, I was supposed to write down contact information so the campaign can make sure he or she actually votes. I was also supposed to tell Kerry supporters that they can vote early and offer them a ride to the polls if they have trouble getting there themselves. If the person was undecided, I was supposed to hand over some campaign literature. The point of this endeavor was really to ensure that Kerry supporters make it to the polls, rather than to convince the undecideds.

The thing that surprised me the most was how many undecideds there were. The neighborhood I canvased was mostly-white, lower-middle-class, and very Catholic. Judging from the contact information I gathered, I'd say it's mostly Polish, although it could just be that Polish people are the ones voting for Kerry. It's the kind of neighborhood where almost every house was lavishly decorated for Halloween, and a whole lot of people had American flags up, or American flag decals on their cars, or those new yellow ribbon "support the troops" car magnets that you see everywhere. My sense was that people were torn between their concern about job loss and pro-life and security considerations. One elderly guy told me that he was voting for Kerry because the only time he'd ever voted Republican was for Ronald Reagan, and a year after that he was laid off and his job was shipped overseas. He said he was never making that mistake again. I smiled and thanked him, even though I don't think Kerry will really do a damn thing about outsourcing and industrial job loss.

So anyway, it was a lot of effort, and it didn't feel like I was making a huge difference, although I know that they need that list of Kerry supporters for get out the vote efforts. And I'll probably go back next week to drive people to the polls. I may be an unenthusiastic Kerry supporter, but I'm a committed one.

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