2006 was a watershed year for Democrats in Ohio. It was only four years ago, but what a difference four years makes. I had just graduated law school. My old boss, Congressman Ted Strickland, was running for Governor against Ken Blackwell. Democrats were riding a wave into power across the nation.
So, I contacted the Butler County Democratic Party to do GOTV phone calls before the election. It was the most depressing thing of the entire election.
I had to use my own cell phone. The script I was given was so long, you couldn’t possibly include it all in a GOTV call, nor should you because it kept you from making other calls. I dialed by hand. The targeting was too broad. And I was one of maybe four people calling during my shift. I had to do the data entry by hand. It took forever. I felt I talked to twenty people at best.
So, imagine my surprise when I walked into the Butler County Democratic Party Headquarters and saw an entire room filled with computers? The tables that didn’t have desktops had small laptops. Okay, weird. And, crap, everyone was using their cell phones.
Nonetheless, I was ready to blog an exponential increase from 2006. Every station was filled. It was, without giving too much away, substantially more than what I saw in 2006.
(Okay, so I admit it. I missed out of GOTV in 2008. Sue me.)
Yep, I just learned that the cell phones were provided, the computers were the autodialers. The script was short and to point. No more irritating people even more running down the entire ticket for a phone call that shouldn’t take 30 seconds to make.
You have to be willing to take a certain level of abuse when you do GOTV calls. You’re essentially, to most people, a telemarketer. I vote early simply to avoid GOTV calls. Seriously.
But there was little delay between call after call. I had the script in front of me on a computer screen. It gave me the person’s voting polling place. The data entry was easy and seemless. The mom and her daughter next to me went three hours with almost no break. They would have gone the whole shift but they had to switch phones after wearing out the battery. Even that was 180 degrees from four years ago. (How many of you went to do GOTV phone calls and there’s that one volunteer more interested in socializing in partisan banter than actually doing work?) Didn’t see that at all. I felt guilty going to the bathroom.
I got to call someone with the first name “Kobra”.
Second, and it happened more than once, I called someone who remarked that someone else volunteering for ODP had just talked to them going door-to-door. I didn’t hear much doom and gloom with these Democratic voters.
I got a significant number of people who said had voted early and were mailing in their ballots today. A handful said that they were not voting or not voting Democratic. Some wouldn’t indicate, but then again, that’s their right. I did still get a few Tea Party folks who somehow were still on our lists. Again, the target was, we were told, infrequent Democratic voters.
I actually had a guy say to me: “You’ll calling Democrats to tell them to vote for Democrats?” Well, when you put it like that. Doing both canvassing and phone calls, it’s amazing how similar the picture was in both.
It was a productive day, no?