Election day. When all the clever maths, long hours and fevered speculation* comes to a close and all that there is to do is make calls and knock on doors. Since my first US campaign for Al Gore in Pennsylvania, and despite many a defeat along the way, I never lose my love of Game Day – it’s like Christmas and a birthday rolled into one!
Because there’s two sides to every GOTV (get out the vote), one that fascinates my mind and one that stirs my heart: the numbers and the people.
And this GOTV hasn’t disappointed: there’s been data and stories aplenty to both captivate and move.
On the numbers side, what I’m seeing here in Ohio is nothing less then the most technically proficient GOTV drive in political history. Fueled by an analytics team that impresses even Google, the Obama campaign hasn’t settled for the electorate of yesterday – instead it took its destiny in its own hands and has shaped the electorate into a remarkable coalition of minorities, women, young voters and selected blue-collar workers.
Central to this has been the perfection of propensity modeling that allows Chicago to establish to a high degree of likelihood the chance that a voter will vote at all and if so how likely they are to vote for which party. These algorithms are the brain of Obama field ops and are brilliantly explored in Sasha Issenberg’s Must Read The Victory Lab: the Secret Science of Campaigning.
But as much as I can lose myself in this data it’s the stories that GOTV reveals that move me most and motivate me to knock on ‘Just. One. More. Door.’ each and every time.
Stories like the mom I met with two college kids who works 12hrs on/12hrs off every day for two to three weeks in a row so she can “save” her “vacation time” to go visit her daughter in Chicago. She works in a car components factory outside Toledo so she didn’t need any of my talking points on the auto-bailout saving Ohio jobs.
Then there was the young voter I met just last night who was off to the polls at the crack of dawn because she was terrified a President Romney would end her food stamps and she hoped that President Obama will be able to help her get work and health insurance.
These are the stories you hear when the numbers send you to the right doors and then you listen to the voters. This is why I love it and it is an honour to be part of it. And best of all, unlike my US political friends I don’t have to wait ’til 2016 for my next Game Day – I get mine back home come 2015.
And I can’t wait to do it all again.
* = for what it’s worth I think it’ll be 303 in the electoral college – although that said I think the chance of winning more is greater then the chance winning less: come on Florida!