Democrats, Organizing For America, Politics — January 19, 2010 at 10:10 pm

Tales from a Midwestern Coakley phone bank


I don’t know how the MA-Sen election will end up but I do know this: it has galvanized Organizing for America volunteers in our area (Ann Arbor, Michigan.) There have been phone banks in my area every day for the past week at multiple locations.

Last night we called from the campaign office of gubernatorial candidate Alma Wheeler-Smith. We had a half-dozen people including the chair of the county Democratic Party.

Tonight we were in the home of a recent transplant to Ann Arbor. When I pulled up there were already ten cars parked out front. Inside were 15 folks on cell phones, GOTVing their hearts out.

(Sorry for the crappy iPhone photos.)

Stacks of call lists. VAN numbers. Call codes. Within minutes we slipped back into phone banking mode, just like 18 months ago when we were doing it to get Senator Obama elected.

Last night we did so well that we ran out of sheets almost an hour early. However, Xi, a Chinese engineering grad student whipped out a stack he had printed off the MyBo N2N page and we kept on calling. He had only found out about the phone bank on MyBo the night before and showed enough initiative to bring his own lists.

Tonight our regional OFA staffer was there and he had plenty of lists. We were calling folks back from the night before, most of them were rather new voters — folks who were registered for the first time for the 2008 election and cast their first vote ever for Barack Obama.

The conversations swirled around us.

“Hi, I’m calling to make sure you’ve had a chance to cast your vote today for Martha Coakley.” [pause] “You did? Oh, that’s wonderful. Thanks so much!”

“I’ve gotten TEN calls from you people today! I voted for her already now QUIT CALLING!!!”

“John’s not home? Do you know if he had a chance to vote today? No? Well, if there’s any way you could get ahold of him, he still has an hour to vote. You will? You’ll call him him right now?! Oh, that’s wonderful. Thank you so much.”

I spoke with one Hispanic woman who proceeded to give me another number where I could contact her son. I decided not to call him but five minutes later, Carlos called me back to assure me he had voted and he had voted for Martha Coakley.

Whether or not Coakley wins or loses tonight, Organizing for America has shown it has serious firepower. As an organization it may not be able to get a lackluster candidate elected but it certainly can help change the dynamic significantly. And that’s something the Democrats have never had before.

I’m just sayin’…