Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Viriginia Canvassing: Go big or go home

When fifty Princeton students headed down for Virginia this past weekend to canvass for Senator Barack Obama, we all thought the hard part would be getting turned away at people's doors. Instead, the hard part turned out to be slogging through the downpour Saturday afternoon.

Huddling under umbrellas, we were most excited when someone opened his door to talk to us.It also helped that most of the people my friend and I spoke to (we walked in pairs) had already made up their minds for Obama. Of the 100 something doors knocked, we only met three John McCain supporters.

The Obama supporters were of varying demographics too. While we were in Reston, a 60's planned community in Northern Virginia, our turf covered townhouses, regular houses, and large lake-front houses as well. The Obama supporters I met included a white school teacher, some stay-at-home moms, a few retirees, an Asian student, and an African-American nurse.

Of course, it's impossible to gauge the total undecided count for Obama from these encounters. After all, we were merely targeting mostly "sporadic" voters, people who are most likely Democrats who have not voted consistently in the past, this weekend. We left the die-hard Republicans alone.

What's more encouraging for Democrats, though, is the sheer enthusiasm and numbers of volunteers. The organizer of the Herndon, Va. office, which served as our headquarters this past weekend, told us that 33,000 volunteers have come down to Virginia. April, a Californian mom, flew out to Virginia to organize other volunteers. Thousands of Obama volunteers across the state canvassed in the rain while the McCain volunteers stayed inside on Saturday. The mere fact that several of the people I met told me that this was the third time Obama's campaign had stopped by means that Obama must be leaving some kind of impression.

Indeed, the Princeton trip alone, organized by Scott Weingart '09, VP of the College Democrats, drew more volunteers than I can remember from any other event during my time here. Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but I'd like to think that all this enthusiasm must make a difference.