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Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Burning off the nerves on election night

I've been first too busy and work and then too keyed up (this evening) to blog for a couple of days, so I thought I'd work off a little nervous energy, not exactly with a live blog, but with a few scattered thoughts and notes.

1) I've been afraid to look at the early tea leaves, so when the Obama campaign texted me at about 8 ET to make some last minute calls, I responded and started calling Colorado an hour before the polls closed. The calls were to people who had requested mail-in ballots, to tell them that if they didn't get the ballot on time they could go to their polling place (provided on-screen) and fill out a provisional ballot. I reached a good handful of people, and they were very nice -- at the end, GOTV is almost all supporters, and a couple calmed me down a bit, as they were chatty and more sanguine than I was feeling.  I also learned something interesting from one guy: that if you didn't mail in your provisional ballot on time you could walk it in today, and it would be counted with conventional votes. So I started leaving that info, along w/ polling places, on voicemail -- all of 45 min to a half hour before closing time. Silly, but as good a way to kill the time as, say, this.

2) Earlier in the evening I had been calling PA voters, and that too offered a bit of reassurance as virtually everyone I talked to was a supporter and virtually all had voted already.  That indicates to me that the GOTV winnowing process was working well.

3) My wife told me  that at her inner city metro NY hospital, political war broke out between the obstetricians and obstetric nurses last night, while at least one laboring patient (I'm a little fuzzy about the scene) gaped at them.  To keep it very general: two obstetricians, both immigrants (in very different decades, from different continents) a) hate Obamacare (at least one does), b) think they're taxed too much, c) feel that they came here with nothing and earned everything they have, and d) think that their inner city patients feed on freebies. The nurses, e.g. one from an African country, shot back basically that the doctors are arrogant entitled SOBs. All of this is water off their collective backs. Doctors and nurses routinely give it to each other out of both barrels, at least in a hospital.

4) Every presidential election from 2004 through today, I've made a few hundred phone calls from the comfort of my home computer.  I am an introvert, and my volume is not terrific: an intrepid kid can probably make more calls in a week than I make across a campaign season.  I hate doing it, but I treasure it. In each year, I've kept a running tally in my head of the rare genuine exchanges I've had with engaged undecideds -- real back-and-forth, not counting those that just listen politely to whatever spiel I spill out.  Each year I've had ten to twelve of these long conversations, counting canvassing as well as phoning.  All of them have been in Pennsylvania, the swing state next door. One memorable one in '08 was with a Hillary supporter, genuinely undecided, who was worried that Obama would promote a "black agenda."  Just a few days ago, I spoke to a man with an Arabic name who railed at length against our political system, was bitterly disappointed in Obama, said Obama had done nothing to him, knew Romney was worse but was mostly insisting or implying that he wouldn't vote at all, that American democracy was a joke, and that both candidates would screw the Palestinians. I couldn't disagree with him on that last point.  He enjoyed the chance to rant, implied that he might yet vote, and semed to grudgingly respect that fact that I was listening to him and contradicting him.

5) As I've worked off my nerves phoning and blogging I've taken gradually-longer peeps at Twitter, and things look pretty good...I am one nervous Nellie. If/when they look good enough, I'll join neighbors next door.

Signing off for now (9:05 ET). Going for a little walk in our Sandy-darkened town with its ridiculous gaslights which have illogically been a godsend this week. Don't know how to live-blog, so I'll just keep editing this post if I want to add.

6) A few weeks ago, I split an "odd--even" canvassing packet in Allentown, PA with a woman I've really come to respect. That is, we took opposite sides of each street (to the extent that the packets matched). At one point, I finished my side and approached her on a (battered) townhouse stoop just as a woman was coming out of the house. The woman, African American, was "lean Obama" but with a few doubts, starting with whether she could vote - -she said she'd been incarcerated in Florida. We reassured her that in PA, where she had registered, if you're out, you can vote. At one point, her son, about 9 years old, appeared at a window and started whimpering at her a bit. She said that he was a special needs kid - forget her language, but it suggested some cognitive problems.  She mentioned help he was getting via Medicaid. I started talking about how Romney would slash Medicaid.  My partner, instead, expressed sympathy for her difficulties and asked for more details. It struck me that this was a more effective way to influence a voter, let alone relate to a human being. 

I can't recall why this woman was a little squishy about Obama. She didn't mention the chip. As I write it's coming back that it was about jobs, the lack thereof..she did seem undecided by the time we left. That's thanks to the empath in the pair, I'm sure.

7) (11/7): I was afraid to look at any early news last night..I took my first peeks at Twitter around 8:00, in between afore-mentioned calls to Colorado voters, and started breathing a little when I picked up this:

It's still early. But so far, it looks like Nate Silver is winning

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