Guest blogger Ted
Today was my first ever experience knocking on doors for a political campaign.
For those who haven’t heard, I’ve flown out from San Francisco to Arlington, Virginia to make the biggest difference I can in a place where every single vote is critical. Because Arlington is close to DC ( i.e. abundant with volunteers), the campaign has assigned me to the Ashburn office in Loudoun County, about 40 minutes west near the Dulles Airport.
Loudoun County is not just another county in a major battleground state, its ground zero for the fight. It’s a microcosm of the statewide drama and according to one of my canvassing partners today (a volunteer who drives 1 hr+ from DC every day), it’s THE swing county. Take all the other counties in VA and they’ll split dead even. As Loudoun County swings, so does the state apparently.
The “split county” profile was evident right away. Just on the drive over, the number and size of the McCain/Palin signs was a wake up call. I think I’ve seen one of those in the whole Bay Area.
The Ashburn office is small and lightly staffed compared to the SF Obama office where I’ve spent many hours these last weeks. Granted, it’s a Friday morning but Monday afternoon in SF was *packed*, requiring at least 3 phone bank captains to handle the load.
In a split county, note that there’s going to be a lot fewer volunteers available and many of the ones that were there were from out of state. But remember, this is one of probably 6 Obama offices in Loudoun County. And the suburban commuter demographics would mean far fewer people around during a weekday.
That’s why our canvassing today only targeted 65 and older folks, people who might be home in the middle of a Friday.
To keep this reasonably short, let’s just say the area really represented the demographic forces and political divide in Virginia. Just about every Obama/Biden yard sign was matched by a McCain/Palin sign. Often “dueling” across the street from each other. And in this surprising case, fighting on the same front lawn:
By demographic forces, I mean the newer, younger suburban communities vs the older, more “rural” areas. Just in our small canvassing area we saw the range: McMansions with large yards, more “middle class” townhomes, and small ranch homes tucked away down a gravel road. It’s the huge growth in these suburbs in northern VA that’s cited as the reason VA may go blue this year.
Overall, the day went quickly and pleasantly – most people weren’t home but the ones who were home were always friendly. I’ll cut this post short with the woman who really made my day:
I ended up catching a spry, 81 years young woman as she was heading to her car. (slight paraphrasing) “Our whole family is voting for Obama. That’s 16 votes for him! My granddaughter is volunteering for Obama over in Fairfax. We tried to go to his rally in Leesburg but never even got to security. So we sat up on the lawn. When we hear him speak, it sounds like what FDR wanted to do for the country. We remember FDR. You’re too young to know FDR.” (emphasis mine)