Jack Schnedler reports from the miasmatic jungles of Ohio: “Old white guys for Obama”

October 30, 2012

Day two of Jack and Marcia’s big adventure in Ohio. On a side note, Karen’s dad Yanko lived a well-struck four iron away from Cuyahoga Community College in Parma Ohio where Bruce Springsteen and Bill Clinton were stumping for Obama last week.

Marcia and I, the retired Arkansas Schnedlers volunteering in battleground Ohio for President Obama’s re-election, came to one cheerful conclusion after our first day of duty in the Dayton suburb of Trotwood: If a carefully planned and thorough ground game of voter contact makes the difference in a tight race, Obama will carry the Buckeye State and be well on his way to re-election.

A skeptic (or a Romney-ite) might view that as rosy thinking. And it is admittedly based on the quickest of impressions from eight hours in action along with several paid Obama campaign staffers and more than two dozen fellow volunteers.

What most of us mainly did on Monday was nothing exciting: We identified, sorted, labeled and boxed some 40,000 door hangers that hundreds of volunteers (perhaps including us) will attach to homes and apartments the day before the Nov. 6 election.

This office, like more than 100 others in Ohio, has been doing months of telephone and door-to-door canvassing to identify as many likely Obama voters as possible (using elaborate computer software called Vote Builder). These are the folks who’ll find the handsome, full-color placards on their doors — each customized to remind them of their specific voting location, hours of voting and what ID they need to bring.

Monica, the 23-year-old field director of the Trotwood office, has been on the job here since June. A New Yorker formerly employed by the philanthropic Clinton Foundation, she explained that any telephoning and door-knocking Marcia and I do will revisit likely Obama voters to help make sure they turn out. She also said the Romney ground game in Ohio seems much less comprehensive.

Having come to Ohio in large part because Obama has no chance to carry Arkansas, we met a Tennessee woman and a young man from Louisiana volunteering here for the same reason. At the other end of the political map were four volunteers from states where Obama is a shoo-in: three from Massachusetts and one from Vermont.

A majority of Monday’s local volunteers were blacks, most of them women, including a lady who’d grown up in Pine Bluff. The campaign provided lunchtime pizza and soft drinks, and a sense of camaraderie percolated as the day went on.

Being an incorrigible wag, I made one lame joke after sizing up the office’s bumper stickers and placards aimed at specific voter demographics: “Women for Obama,” “Blacks for Obama,” “Latinos for Obama,” “LGBT Community for Obama.”

Where, I asked, is my poster? “Old White Men for Obama.” The laughter was mild.

When Marcia and I are dispatched to contact voters during the week ahead, we’ll hope to be more fortunate than the teen-aged volunteer Monica described.

“He went out a couple of months ago,” she said. “When he knocked on the door at his very first house, the older man who opened it was wearing no clothes at all. This guy answered all the questions in the nude, as our volunteer gamely kept going while wondering where to look. He brought the completed questionnaire back to our office, but we never saw him again.”

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