CT-Sen: Another report from the ground
by PsiFighter37, Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 04:49:17 AM EDT
Yesterday, I did some phonebanking for Ned Lamont's campaign. Today, it was time to hit the streets once again, going door to door to find out what prospective Democratic primary voters thought about the primary in 9 days. Last week, a group of us did canvassing in what I'd describe as a middle-class neighborhood in Stamford, Joe Lieberman's hometown. This week, we headed back to Stamford again, but this time, we were canvassing in a more upscale neighborhood of Stamford - as you can see, the area we covered was close enough to the Long Island Sound to smell the aroma of seawater. The area was smothered with signs for Dan Malloy, the mayor of Stamford who is running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. At first, we had trouble figuring out where we were going, as none of us were familiar with the Stamford area. However, once we found a place to park, Keith, my canvassing partner-in-crime today, and I set out on a 3-hour trek that yielded some surprising results.
There were more people home this time than last - including the people who did not have an opinion or did not want to talk about their preference, I'd say that we had roughly a 35% response rate, which was fairly good considering it was a beautiful (albeit hot) Sunday afternoon. It started off on an excellent note: the first household I spoke to were strong supporters of Lamont; in fact, their close relatives (who we canvassed but were not home at the time) had recently hosted a breakfast fundraiser in support of Ned. They eagerly asked for a lawn sign (something other Lamont supporters were hesitant to do, given that Stamford is largely pro-Lieberman), and I said that someone would drop it off. Another person I spoke to eyed me suspiciously as I began talking about how I was going around the neighborhood. "Who are you with?" he asked, a slight buzz of hostility on his voice. When I revealed I was volunteering for Lamont, the man became enthusiastic. "Well, you've got two votes from this house," he said. "Keep up the good work." And for a group of largely college-age staffers and volunteers, the campaign has done a very damn good job - certainly better than the paid group over with the Lieberman campaign does.
It seems like the Democratic Party still has trouble making Iraq their top issue. While Lamont has been broadening his policy portfolio on health care, education, and other subjects, there is no doubt that the war is the top issue. One household I spoke to said they were supporting Lamont because of the war. I attempted to launch into a discussion of Ned's positions on the other issues, but I got cut off - they were a single-issue voting household, and Iraq was that issue. I spoke with one pleasant old lady whose daughter was on my list to speak with. Although she was not sure who she would vote for, it was clear that she was extremely disappointed with Lieberman's position on Iraq. At another household that I classified as a 'lean Ned', the war was the top priority for voting for Lamont. Interestingly enough, this person's spouse said that their top reason for voting against Lieberman? He was far too uncomfortable with Lieberman's political beliefs, which he felt were far too influenced by religion. One woman I spoke to was undecided. She knew that being Lieberman's hometown, it was difficult to support someone who she had voted for before, particularly when he ran for vice president. That being said, she was sorely disappointed by some of his statements of late, notably the war in Iraq. I spoke about how it was necessary to bring our troops home and spend our money on policies that will help Connecticut - investing in our public education, providing universal health care to all Americans, and ensuring that our jobs stayed in the country and were not outsourced. She was still undecided afterwards, but I think that I may have influenced her and helped sway her position towards supporting Ned. One old lady I spoke to wouldn't tell me who she was voting for, but she thanked me for getting out and talking about the primary. I have a feeling that she may be supporting Lamont, but it was difficult to tell. One of the more pleasant sites was towards the end of the day - I hadn't seen a Lamont sign yet, but the last bunch of houses that I canvassed told me who was supporting who - even though no one was home:
Being Stamford, there were bound to be a few Lieberman supporters. Most of them were kind enough to me. One said they were voting for Lieberman and asked who I was campaigning for. When I replied Lamont, she nodded and had the courtesy to say, "Have a good day". Generally, most Lieberman supporters, as I wrote yesterday, don't seem all that enthusiastic about their support for the senator. Keith (my canvassing partner) ended up speaking with a Lieberman supporter - but the person was kind enough to let him inside the house, and although he was supporting Lieberman, he said that he supported what we were doing - that it was a good thing that Lieberman was being challenged. Unfortunately, these kind of Lieberman backers seem few and far between; most of them tend to act in the same manner that their candidate does - in a self-righteous, obnoxious manner. I asked someone at one household whether their spouse supported Lamont or Lieberman. The reply? "[name redacted] has repeated over and over, to the best of my knowledge, that [they] will be voting for Joe Lieberman, not that wealthy [unintelligble]." While I still thanked the person for their time, why is being wealthy a reason to be against someone? If they made their money in an honest fashion, good for them. I thought that was what the American dream was about.
Being the hot day that it was, it was wonderful to get some more support from some of the households we canvassed. Two other people I drove down to the Stamford area received bottles of water from a household that was supporting Lamont. I got some mist sprayed on myself by a leaner who felt bad that we were trudging around the neighborhood and sweating our asses off. The Lamont campaign is by the people, for the people. We set out in two cars, with six people in total, to go canvassing today. We don't get reimbursed for the gas, and although we can take some water, on a hot day like today, it was bound to run out quickly. We leave xeroxed copies of a Lamont brochure at households with people who aren't home. On the other hand, a Lieberman van was roving the neighborhood today, and they were leaving glossy doorhangers with people. They touted Lieberman's commitment to working families, and it prominently mentioned the AFL-CIO endorsement. But you know what? Who gives a damn about the vans that the Lieberman campaign is purportedly renting up until the date of the primary? Who cares about the fancy literature they leave at people's houses? At the end, what this campaign comes down to is connecting with the people - and Ned Lamont does that. Earlier on in the day, I was walking through an intersection when a car came to a stop. The window rolled down, and the woman driving asked me, "Who are you working for?" I answered that I was volunteering with the Lamont campaign (I forgot to put a sticker on my shirt), and before she made her turn, she said, "Cool." Cool, indeed. I was dehydrated, I was sweating to the point where I couldn't see clearly, and I had hardly any energy left - but it was cool.
In the end, I had 13 households supporting or leaning towards Lamont for a total of 24 votes, against 5 households and 7 votes for Lieberman. In the incumbent's hometown, that's a pretty damn good record. For what it's worth, some of the other staffers canvassed someone who is related to a Connecticut politician that has endorsed Lieberman (but has been loathe to appear with him as of late). They were supporting Lamont.
We are going to win this election.