Monday, November 3, 2008

Working for Obama in Allentown

I've always been a reluctant Obama supporter because his policies seem center or even right of center to me. But from what I can tell, I really like the guy and feel he will be a good president to the extent anyone can be a good president given these times. So I've become more involved as time has gone by. But not in the sense of actually working in the campaign. Until yesterday.

I'm not one of those people who think this election is a cinch. Far from it. I always expected McCain to win. And still think the Republicans will find a way to squeeze this out. Frankly, the numbers I hear scare me. Weren't Kerry and Gore ahead at this point too?

If it's close, I am giving the state to McCain. Bradley effect and all that stuff. Turnout? Young people? I'm still not convinced. Did they make sure to register in the same place they live or at the school they go to or like my recent college grad cousin who is from DC, went to school upstate and now lives here in the city, did she take care of business to make sure she can vote? Besides, she works late and, you know, lines, etc. Beside, people think it's a slam dunk for Obama and we know how that turns out.

We were out at in wine country on the east end of Long Island and a debate broke out between a lone Obama supporter and a group of McPalins in the parking lot. I had to jump into the fray, but I hear way too much of this stuff from too many people I know. I think I saw one Obama sign in my entire neighborhood with about 50 more McPalin signs. And we are 5 minutes from Brooklyn.

I believe Pennsylvania is the key to this entire election and McCain was derided for throwing so many resources into the state. I thought he was smart to do so and he has made some progress with polls showing a narrowing.

When I got that Move.on email saying I was needed in Allentown, PA, I headed over there on Sunday. If Obama loses PA by one vote, it won' t be my fault.

There were many cars streaming into the Obama HQ. They came from Jersey and lots from New York. All ages. Mostly white. While waiting on the bathroom line I found it interesting how confident they were despite the fact that most of the people who live near them (except the Manhattan and Park Slope people) were McCain people. I felt dread.

But I perked up from the enormous outpouring of people and the impressive way we were organized and trained. We were sent out in pairs. My partner was a young man from Manhattan by way of DC, having grown up in Virginia. He did some canvassing back home recently. "I don't think Obama will win Virginia," he said. Jeez. And he is running even in North Carolina, if not being behind. And Ohio? As the Fearless Forecaster on WFAN often says: A LOSS.

Did you get the idea I am a major pessimist?

The guy in charge is a lawyer from Long Island who has been there for a month. He grew up in Rockaway and wasn't surprised when I told him about some of the sentiments of all too many people.

But I perked up as more people kept showing up all day. And what a smooth operation. They have shifted from convincing people to vote Obama, to canvassing for Obama supporters to a Get Out The Vote operation. That was our job yesterday. To go to targeted addresses of people who said they were for Obama and to leave a door knob flyer as a reminder. We were not knocking on doors but if we saw someone we were to ask if they needed a ride to the polls on Tuesday.

Our trainer said that they can track every single person who did not vote by 6PM and they will call them to remind them. And do it again at 7PM. Impressive. I lost a few butterflies on hearing that. About 2.

We went out to an area that seemed to be the Allentown version of low income housing. Two story garden apartments. Mostly Hispanic, based on the names. Having taught in east Williamsburg, there was some similarity. Will they actually go out and vote? The 2 butterflies are back.

Look. PA is within margin of error. Hillary beat Obama badly. Florida and North Carolina and Virginia - it is really possible for McCain. More than possible. I would go back to Allentown on election day if I didn't have this robotic training thing I'm involved in. If things look worse tonight I may blow it off and head on back. Or at the very least start calling people from here. (The Obama organization even makes provision for that.) I don't much believe it does all that much good but doing nothing makes those

A neighbor is throwing an election night open house. I'm going with plenty of good stuff to drink. We will really know a lot by 8PM. At that point I expect to be drinking. Heavily.

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