Saturday, 26 July 2008

Campaigning for change

As before, I was more struck by the similarities of campaigning in the US and the UK than the differences.

The key similarities were that:
  1. There were six people - including me and the Democrat campaign coordinator - there for the canvassing session.
  2. It took 30 minutes for everyone to feel happy that they understood what was required of them
  3. The basic script and activity was the same: who are you going to vote for? how likely are you to vote?
  4. The majority of residents weren't at home to open their door
  5. We wished that we'd remembered the 'sorry you were out' cards
The differences were mostly due to the housing. It took 4 hours to knock on 38 doors, thanks (mostly) to the amount of space between houses. The area was affluent and some of the houses were the most desired in the county. They would have looked comfortable in Hertfordshire or Alderley Edge. They are worth around $1m or £500,000.

It was strange because we were only knocking on the doors of known Democrats. Four months before an election, I expected the net would be cast slightly wider. We saw little evidence of Clinton supporters turning to McCain although we did discover some Republicans for Obama.

I learned that there had been over 60 activists at the caucus (selection meeting) which was considered a sizeable turnout. And apparently there were 900 people at a $40 per head fundraising dinner. Despite these big numbers, they still struggle to turn out activists. Apparently they struggle with getting people holding office to stoop to street level activism. Also, the apparent lead of Obama is already seeing complacency set in.

At least this campaign had a clear, simple message unlink John Kerry (for a stronger America here at home, more respected abroad). People knew that Obama = change.

On a personal note, I was honoured to meet welcoming people once more. Whilst there were a couple of people who didn't understand why someone would come from England to campaign in the US, they weren't offended (and no one on the doorstep minded either). But, as ever, I found people to be warm, friendly and happy to give up their time to answer my questions and hear about the UK.

1 comment:

Tim Cain said...

What's all this gadding about enjoying yourself? Aren't you supposed to be working?

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