Archive for October 17th, 2008

My Obama Minute: A Day at the Beachwood

Friday, October 17th, 2008

This was a tough one for me.

I know not to place too much emphasis on the day-to-day shifts in the polls, but still, my sense is that they are starting to contract. The Drudge Report was touting the Gallup tracking poll, which shows a 2 point Obama edge for the second-straight day. An AP-Yahoo Internet poll today has Obama at 44, Mccain at 42. Even Daily Kos, which has had Obama with a 10-plus point lead, had him at only plus 6 today.

At Barberton Chicken, where I ate lunch with a friend, he told me not to worry — the best electoral vote Web sites have been modeling for this contraction, all along.

On my way to Cleveland, Uncle Jon told me not to worry — McCain’s debate performance is going to hurt him, ultimately, with independents.

Loyal, too, told me not to worry — Obama had a few days with lower averages, but in a few days, when the polls start reflecting the final debate, they’ll go back up again. Still, Loyal did note that “the only thing that has me concerned” is the Daily Kos figure.

And that’s Loyal. If he had a Web site, it’d be called OptimisticDemocrat.com.

And then, I spent the afternoon in Beachwood, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, canvassing.

I’ve been out a number of times this cycle doing voter registration. This was my first day canvassing. I have to say, I was very impressed.

We were targeting the Jewish community — folks with names like Baruch, Tali, and Yury. We were armed with hand-outs about Barack Obama’s positions on Israel. We spoke, ahead of time, about how to address any concerns people had about Jesse Jackson’s recent comments. (See blog: “Has Jesse Jackson Lost His Mind?”)

My wife and I canvassed four years ago for Kerry in Iowa City, and it was a disappointing experience. Some of the people we spoke to had already been contacted four and five times. It seemed like no one was really keeping track. One woman was so angry with repeat canvassers, she told us that she was a Democrat — but was voting Bush out of spite. Then she slammed the door on us.

This was a much more organized effort. I went only to homes identified as Jewish and undecided. If folks were home, we were to place them on a seven-point scale — from strong Obama to strong McCain. Also, we were to ask them if they wanted to volunteer, or if they’d consider voting early.

It was a beautiful fall afternoon. Leaves blowing lazily in the street. Kids walking home from school. When I rang doorbells and stood waiting, I’d turn my face up, and feel the sun on my cheeks. Many homes were decorated with cob webs and black cats and skeletons; sneering pumpkins and laughing witches.

I met six Jewish voters, all told. Five said they were definitely voting, or had already voted, for Obama. The other was undecided, but he’d recently had surgery, and confessed to being drugged up on something that made him wobbly at the door.

“I love Obama,” one woman said. “I talk him up all the time.”

Another woman said she’s voting for Obama, despite her fear that someone will try to assassinate him. She had been on the fence, she said. The turning point, for her, was when McCain picked Palin as a running mate. As a woman, she said, that felt like a slap in the face.

I have to say, if you are a neurotic Democrat like me, and the days have started to seem stuck in the sludge — is the world still turning? have we moved any closer to Election Day in the last few hours? — the best thing you can do is grab a clipboard and go ring doorbells.

Sniff the air. Leave some literature in someone’s door handle. Ask people what it is they are still worried about.

There’s something about the concrete gesture of speaking to another voter, one to one, that — at least momentarily — makes all the other stuff — from the polls to the pundits to the latest robocalls — seem, well, invented.

It’s scary as hell to pick yourself up and knock on doors to have political conversations with people you don’t know. But, take it from me, it’s scarier not to.

Watch this Sunday to see if Colin Powell endorses Obama. That could be a huge lift for the campaign.

Shabbat Shalom.

Why I Remain, Forever Yours, Neurotic Dem

Friday, October 17th, 2008

On CNN tonight, David Gergen, the most even-handed, least hyperbolic of the punditocracy, noted that the daily tracking polls going in to the debate showed movement, finally, in McCain’s direction.

Oh — and then there’s this, from Talking Points Memo: “McCain Camp Unleashing National Robocall Blitz.” Here’s the nut:

Even as McCain said at the debate he regrets campaign negativity, his camp is releasing a nationwide blitz of robocalls attacking Obama on Ayers, national security, Hollywood, and the old infanticide smear, TPM Election Central reports.

Robocall: Obama Voted To Let Babies Die
Robocall: Obama And ‘Terrorist Bill Ayers’
Robocall: Dems Want Rights For Enemies
Robocall: ‘Hollywood Above America’

And people think this election is over?

The Obama campaign has called the Robocalls dishonorable. He needs to go beyond that. Obama has had the answer for every McCain-Palin gutterball this campaign. He can’t let this October Sleaze go un-countered.