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Obama Campaign Blog: Reports from Battleground States

Original post made by Tyler Hanley, digital editor of Palo Alto Online, on Oct 31, 2008

If you are one of the hundreds of local residents traveling to Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico and other battleground states to help turn out the vote and monitor polling places we'd like you to share your experiences on Town Square.

Blog about your experiences through the weekend and on election day and night. Describe the atmosphere, what you are assigned to do, the reaction of voters, the mood of the campaign headquarters...whatever you want. Make it your personal diary of your experiences.

This will be open only to those who register on Town Square (it's easy...just click on "register" at the top of the page) and we ask that you use your real first name in making your posts so readers can track your individual postings as you make them.

We will remove all comments that aren't first-person posts from campaign volunteers. We want a place where these volunteers can report on their experiences, not for people to debate the merits of the postings or the candidates.

Hopefully, this will be a fun way to follow what's happening in each campaign in some of the states that will decide the election.

Please join in and share!

Comments (9)

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Posted by Lisa VanDusen
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 31, 2008 at 8:43 pm

Lisa VanDusen is a registered user.

I am in Colorado, staying with a cousin in Boulder with my mom, sister and friends from Portola Valley and Arkansas with more friends from Palo Alto coming over the next couple of days. We are working out of the Longmont office about 1/2 northwest of Boulder. Most of us are spanish speakers so we were assigned to predominantly spanish speaking areas near downtown. The weather is perfect - in the seventies and sunny. We headed out and found all flavors of voters: Democrats for McCain (complete with a sign advertising their status). My mother, the republican for Obama knocked on that door. They were on our list. On Thursday, I met the mother of a newly released felon who thought he couldn't vote, but, in fact, he can. Today was the last day of early voting here so we were focusing on that. There is a lot of confusion due to the requirements surrounding mail in ballots -- where you can vote when, ID requirements etc. There were big lines during lunch time at least for early voting. We have felt helpful as clarifiers of the various requirements.

There are many friendly people here putting up all these Midpeninsula folk.

More tomorrow.



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Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Nov 1, 2008 at 3:58 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

I am blogging for Nancy with her encouragement.

I am in Denver, where I was born. It is beautiful and sunny unlike what Steve says it is like in Palo Alto.

First we went to a training and then were sent to a far out newly built community near the airport. I am struck by the diversity of homes and the amazing ethnic diversity in the people we are meeting--Latinos, African Americans and some Muslims. There are some homes that would sell for $1 million or more in PA and also some foreclosures.

I went to 45 homes and found 22 people in--far higher than when Steve and I canvassed in Manchester where only 3 families were home.

One of the first families was voting for McCain but most of the people we talked to are excited about Obama. I chatted with a man painting his house who looked just like Joe the Plumber. He was from the military and I thought he would be for McCain. He said he usually votes Republican but will vote for Obama this time for many reasons including his support for the military and veterans. He told me that most of his military friends around the country support Obama.

We heard a couple of sad voting registration stories. One man tried to register earlier at an embassy but there was an address mixup and he can't vote. Another woman tried to vote by mail but there was a mixup and she has to go on Monday to try and get a new ballot.

While I was campaigning the Obama office in New Hampshire called to see if I could work tomorrow. What amazing follow up considering that we live in California and only spent one day campaigning in New Hampshire.

More tomorrow.


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Posted by Lisa VanDusen
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 2, 2008 at 9:40 am

Lisa VanDusen is a registered user.

I have now been canvassing in Longmont, Colorado (NW of Boulder) for three days. Early voting ended Friday so yesterday we were focussing on GOTV (Get Out The Vote). There are now about 12 in our contingent (9 from the Bay Area, 7 from the Palo Alto area). Three more arrive from Palo Alto tonight for the last two days.

We canvassed in Spanish Speaking areas of town. Longmont is a nice community of about 90,000 people with a mix of political persuasions - but a lot of Obama supporters. I encountered a second felon who thought he could not vote and was thrilled to learn that he could. We met a Navajo woman living in a trailer park near a tree-lined creek who did not understand the details of the mail in ballot and hugged my mother before we left. I knocked on the door with a McCain sign outside (it was on my list) and it turned out that their neighbor had put it there and the resident said "I think I will take that sign down.) His son was voting for Obama.

It is tiring but gratifying work. We did two and half shifts of canvassing. The sun was hot. I love the window into different people's lives that canvassing offers: mothers of new born children so grateful for clarification of where and when to take their Mail in ballots, first time voters that did not know they needed to enclose a photo copy of their ID in the Mail in Ballot, a woman who did not know how her elderly mother could vote.

The local volunteers were very grateful for our work. My mom seems to be the oldest canvasser and word of her had spread around the various field offices. She was especially effective with Republicans who were still wondering what to do.

We have had a quiet morning - we went to the Quaker meeting with my sister. We are off to canvass on another beautiful day.



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Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Nov 3, 2008 at 2:18 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Nancy reports

Yesterday I did phone calls with my twisted ankleicing peacefully at my friend Wendy's house. It was important but not nearly as much fun as walking precincts.

Today we distributed literature reminding people about voting tomorrow. We had lunch and are now going back to see if some of these folks are home so we can talk with them personally.

My friend lives near where Lowry Air Force Base used to be and near where I grew up. The Obama staff was nice to let me campaign near where I was staying today. It is amazing and thrilling to see what has happened to the land where the base was. It is a vibrant mixed use, mixed income and mixed ethnic neighborhood. The base land was put to good use.

Work will continue well into the night with phone calls. My advice to you still in CA--please don't call. We have it covered and I am getting feedback that people are annoyed at all the calls.


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Posted by Christina
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 3, 2008 at 9:49 pm

Christina is a registered user.

Walking and running from house to house, knocking on doors, ringing broken doorbells, talking to kids, petting dogs, smiling, trying to cajole "sporadic" Democratic voters to take the time to go to the polls Tuesday or return their mail-in ballots to the county clerk's office: this is the job of an Obama canvasser in Longmont, Colorado--my job for the past three days. Fortunately the weather is beautiful, the trees ablaze with fall colors and the mountain vistas spectacular. And almost uniformly the people of Longmont, even McCain supporters, are friendly and welcoming despite having been overwhelmed with campaign phone calls and literature. Yesterday I went to a house where the husband supports McCain and the wife Obama. The husband answered the bell and, when I asked for the wife, discouraged her from coming to the door. When she finally came out onto the porch to talk with me, he locked her out! Tonight I rang a bell that was quickly answered by three bright-eyed Latino boys. As I spoke with their mom about voting for Obama one of them asked "is Obama the brown one or the white one?" When told he was the brown one the boy said "I like the brown one!"

Yesterday a caravan of political VIPs stopped by our headquarters: U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, former Gov. Roy Romer (a hero of mine because after three terms as Colorado governor he took on the Los Angeles Unified School District as superintendent); former U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle and Federico Pena, Secretary of Transportation and Energy in the Clinton administration. But the real highlight of my afternoon (besides the canvassing) was when Gloria Steinem quietly slipped into the office! Now that was exciting. There's a sense of optimism among Democrats here that Colorado, historically a red state, is about to turn blue, but the Obama campaign is not relaxing and is leaving nothing to chance.


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Posted by Mark Chandler
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 4, 2008 at 5:16 am

Mark Chandler is a registered user.

Here in gritty South Bend, Indiana seems poised for change. We may think of South Bend as "Notre Dame's town", but the community has a strong industrial history, as the one-time home of Studebaker, now represented only by the Studebaker Museum. Today a lot of industry is gone, and people are feeling the current downturn keenly.

On the west side, a heavily Hispanic and African American area, homes are boarded up and foreclosed, for sale signs are everywhere. Many Latino residents are returning to Mexico, where they have better chances of a job. I have a picture of one block, where every house was either boarded up or for sale - nice old homes, some bungalows but many larger and well built, century old homes. Yet practically every house that was occupied in the neighborhood had a picture of Barack Obama in the window or on a door, reminding me of the pictures of John F. Kennedy I remember in Boston when I grew up there in the 60s. Among residents in that neighborhood there are many other signs of pride in Obama's success -- and an observation by one woman, still wearing her big hat on the way home from church, "I never thought I would see the day."

But that's not all. Yes, a pickup truck roared by our headquarters yesterday and an occupant shouted, "Go Al Qaeda"; but a waitress in a diner said she was stunned by the fact that so many of her friends and neighbors in a little town "with a lot of KKK" were supporting Obama. And even in the most wealthy and conservative parts of town, at least as many Obama signs in yards as those for McCain. One large, brick tudor-style home, with a large American flag flying in front, had an "Impeach Bush" sticker in the window. Indianans say they've never felt the mood in the state so open to a Democrat -- and that's why Indiana is a "toss-up" after having voted for a Democrat for President only once since 1936.


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Posted by Lisa VanDusen
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 4, 2008 at 7:37 am

Lisa VanDusen is a registered user.

I have been too busy to post the last couple of days. We have gotten up, had an incredible breakfast created by my cousins followed by a hike in the foothills out their back door before driving up to Longmont for another day of canvassing. Today is day 6 for me. There has been a steady stream of friends coming (and some going) over the last few days. We are known in the Longmont offices as "The Californians" even though our group has boasted a Michigander, Arkansas resident and a Costa Rican resident. During yesterday morning's training (what we do changes every day and often by day part), our group represented about 2/3 of the canvassers. They love us. The copy shop clerk gave one of our group a 30% discount on the flyers about mail in ballots.

Yesterday morning we "dropped lit" i.e. left doorhangers encouraging those who had not yet voted to vote and were told NOT to talk to knock as the local residents were getting agitated at all the attention. In the afternoon, those of us that will be here for the entire day were trained to be Poll Leads. The job of Poll Lead is one small cog in a chain of communication that sends info regarding who has/hasn't voted down to the canvassers and all the way up to Chicago. I have been drafted to do that job from 1-4 today in north Longmont. I have focussed on South Longmont thus far as there are more spanish speakers there. Three of our group will be doing that all day -- entering data into a blackberry-ish device outside the poll. I am a canvasser at heart but am doing what they need.

At lunch, we were welcomed by a group of nursing students who had just graduated. They all wanted Obama "swag" -- except one -- who wanted health care info on Obama as she was undecided. We got her some and had a nice conversation.

After working my way through neighborhoods filled with signs saying "Warning: Attack Chihuajuas" (I met them), large, loud pit bulls and some McCain/Palin signs. I was invited into the home of a family with four voters (the jack pot). Two were on my list. They were twin girls who are celebrating their 18th birthday today -- election day. There were all kinds of challenges, though. One had already delivered her mail in ballot but without the required ID. The other thought she was a mail in voter but had not received it, so I helped them figure out what steps they could all take to vote and offered to get them a ride to the polls. We continued knocking on the rest of the doors in the dark with our headlamps.

Last night, we recruited two friends in Boulder to join us in Longmont. They said that Boulder is well covered. The Longmont office will be happy to see them.

Time to head to Longmont, chase down voters and cross our fingers.




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Posted by Lisa VanDusen
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 4, 2008 at 7:40 am

Lisa VanDusen is a registered user.

I forgot to say that I got to canvass with Senator Ken Salazar and my mom for a few houses when he was in Longmont, Colorado on an RV filled with Colorado's dems on Sunday. What a wonderful man.



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Posted by Lisa VanDusen
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 4, 2008 at 10:42 pm

Lisa VanDusen is a registered user.

Back in Longmont for day 6.

Phyllis thought her mail in ballot might not have been counted. We did some research and found out it had been "accepted". Her shoulders visibly relaxed. Aurora, the 70 something year old whose husband was sick made it to the polls with her daughter, who thought she would not be able to vote because she hadn't changed her registration address. She called to thank me for "bugging her and she meant that in a good way" for reminding her to vote and reported that her daughter was able to vote. Francis, the 60 something year old called to say (in Spanish) that it all worked out – that her daughter had made it home in time and she had figured out the long, complicated ballot.

My poll lead shift was dull as there were no lines in the afternoon. That turned out to be because so many had voted early or by mail in ballot. I returned to canvassing to help a few last voters.

Then on Main Street (literally) in Longmont, the returns watching began after the polls had closed and the staging locations were cleaned up. The motley crew of Longmont natives, Californians, Katy from Costa Rica, Ben from New York, William from England, Julia from Oklahoma all cheered as the results rolled in. Cell phones rang, texts came in "The fat lady is warming up", "Game over"" We love you guys", "Feeling GOOD. We watched McCain's speech in Longmont and made it to my cousin's house in time to watch Obama's speech.

We will sleep well tonight.


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