Life in a Swing State: Get the Door

Living in a swing state — Virginia — we’ve had a lot of visitors lately.

Every weekend for the past month, someone has come by the front door of the townhouse just across the river from Washington with a clipboard, some campaign flyers and a smile — the guy with his infant daughter in a backpack had the biggest smile.

They’ve been calling on behalf of  President Barack Obama.

“Vote Tuesday,” read the big, bright blue door-hanger greeting us today when we returned home. While we’re at, we were advised to vote for Tim Kaine, the Democratic candidate for governor, and Rep. Jim Moran, the longtime Democratic congressman in these parts.

The other side of the presidential contest has brought nothing of the sort — rather, a point-counter-point of negative attack flyers has arrived in the mail day after day, with the home phone turned over to the answering machine to block the incoming rob0-calls.

The Catholic Association today warned that “Obama has gone too far.”

Even Mother Teresa’s charity fails the presidents religious test, the mailer advised us. Under the Obama administration’s health-care law, even the work of Mother Teresa “wouldn’t be considered religious,” the mailer said.

And the National Jewish Democratic Committee mailed a flyer saying that before Obama was president rockets were killing students in Israel, but since Obama became president the U.S. has provided more than $200 million for Israel’s “Iron Dome” defense against missile attacks.

It could be that Alexandria, Virginia, is so decidedly Democratic-leaning that Romney’s get-out-the vote has focused on communities such as Richmond and Norfolk and Roanoke in a commonwealth that for decades voted Republican, until it sided with Obama in 2008, with these Northern Virginia “suburbs” — rather considered as home than any offshoot of the district — turning the political tide in an Old Dominion long dominated by the Tidewater.

Yet we can’t escape the impression that those weeks and weeks of people walking the neighborhood are ultimately a more effective means of communication than the back and forth of vitriolic mailings and robo-calls.

And tonight, the Obama campaign revealed some data about its get-out-the-vote campaign in the swing states that support the supposition that going door to door may be a more powerful political tool than filling mailboxes with venom.

During this election cycle, the Obama campaign says, its teams haves registered 1,792,261 voters in key battleground states – nearly double the number of voters the Obama campaign registered in 2008.

“These new voters are already voting in early vote states. In fact, 28 percent of them – 345,233 – have already voted. In North Carolina, for example, 137,808 of the voters (Obama for America in North Carolina) registered have already voted… At the start of GOTV (Get-out-the-vote) weekend, our volunteers have made 125,646,479 personal phone calls or door knocks that resulted in conversations with voters – not counting robo calls on auto-dialers, mail, literature drops or any other non-volunteer, non-personal contacts.”

All of that sounds a lot more expeditious than pitting Mother Teresa against the Iron Dome.


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