I’m starting to understand why the ODP’s field operation, by all accounts (including mine) a pretty good one, failed to deliver the Democratic turnout required in Tuesday’s close election to secure victory for Ted Strickland.

When I first heard the story of ODP paid canvassers bouncing checks, my first thought was….checks?  Who the hell pays street money in checks?  Most folks who are available to do this work, late in a campaign, do not have bank accounts.  They are unemployed, a street money campaign gig is often the most money they will make that month, maybe all year.  And if you hand them a check, you have to pay them more, (which it looks like ODP did) because a huge chunk of it will go to a check cashing joint down the street.

My second thought was….out of state consultant?  Are you kidding?  Campaigns identify street money canvassers through local activists who have existing networks of people who have done this work before.  We’re talking years and many election cycles. To put together an operation of any real consequence, an out of state operation has to do way more recruiting than someone local, and that recruiting will be suspect and inefficient.

You’ll recall that in 2008, street money was not really used in Ohio, largely because the Obama campaign was against it, and because black turnout was expected to go up anyway because Barack was at the top of the ticket.

All of which suggests that ODP scrambled at the last minute to throw a street money operation together as the race tightened.  It was never in the budget in the first place.  And when it did get into the budget, they screwed it up.  Big time.

Whether this screw up lost the race, who knows.  But it’s a sublime Dickensian irony that the collapsed economy created by Republicans leaves so many people so vulnerable that they jump at this chance to risk bouncing an out of state check written for a pittance cashed at a predatory check cashing joint, forcing them to pound down the doors of the political party which is supposed to protect them from this exploitation.

The notion that these people who can’t be found, because many are actually homeless, will then dial an 800 number to chase their pittance….well…it’s almost enough to make you puke.

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  • Anonymous

    Maybe if the canvassers were “blackier” we would have won, right, Tim?

    I can’t believe you’re attacking them, not for having paid canvassers, but for not paying them in cash. Un-fucking-believeable.

  • Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough. If the street money was in the plan, it would have been in a local account and in the organizers’ hands by the time it needed to be spent, and cash would have been paid to the canvassers, who would have been known to the organizers well ahead of time. It’s Street Money 101.

    Using an out-of-state consultant at the last minute who organized from afar and paid with checks suggests it wasn’t in the plan until the last minute, when it was too late to do it right.

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  • Pelikan

    Having volunteered at one these paid canvass operations on election day, I can’t even begin to tell you how f’ed up this operation was. What made me want to puke was that when we had 200 people who were from shelters, halfway houses and generally down their luck waiting for their money, the fellow who “ran” the operation came back into the hall to tell them there would be no money that night – flanked by five cops. I don’t think if we were delivering bad news to a group of College Dem canvassers the cops would’ve been called. Before this happened when i tried to approach Gen. Haig and suggest that the several cop cars outside the hall should be pulled to the front of the building and the cops didn’t have to be so conspicuous, I got a “I’m in control of the situation!” Poor crisis management. Disrespect to a roomful of folks who got hosed. Very un-Democratic. Actions by the vendor in subsequent days were not much better. I hear that the Party is checking up on the money they paid the vendor in advance. I haven’t heard that there is anyone at the Party ensuring that each and every canvasser was paid what they were due.

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