campaigning in ohio - dispatch #1

the Vote Today Ohio office is on a hectic columus street on the periphery of Ohio State University. we are in what was formerly a frat house, so indicated by the giant team mascot and logo painted on the kitchen wall, the air hockey table in the living room, and the faint lingering smell of beer.

after a very long drive on friday night (thank you NPR, cigs, ipod, and bad coffee) – hurtling through black space across the interstates of America – i arrived in columbus at 3.30 in the morning, quietly let myself into this house, and dropped onto an uncomfortably small couch at the back of the main floor. i'd barely napped for four hours until the morning rustling of housemates woke me up. by 8.20, i was rocking a wild afro and black eyes while sipping desperate espressos and engaging in fatigued small talk with lively strangers. by 9 am, i was meeting with the field director – amy little, a political operative from new york – and by 9.30, i was appointed regional director (RD) for the cincinnati area.

since then, i have pretty much been ensconced in writing organizing materials and attending meetings. we are pursuing three primary objectives: information saturation; voter recruitment; volunteer recruitment. the main push of this effort focuses on 'Golden Week', during which we want to turn out more than 10,000 new or unlikely voters. the team is fairly impressive – organizers from california to new england who are young, smart, and pumped. i so far feel my experience and skills are being put to excellent use.

seriously, this is the most cush political campaign i have ever worked on. we are pimped out with wi-fi, office supplies, and strong, endless coffee. whereas in 2004, the modest little office of the Young Voter Alliance in madison had a lone cupboard stuffed with raman noodles, here is another freaking story. thanks to the generosity of donors, the kitchen of this frat house is overflowing with so much deliciousness. the project director's partner shopped til she dropped yesterday and began cooking up what will be a week's worth of meals for this bustling house. the fridge contains such shockingly non-campaign items as sunflower seed butter, Sriracha, and wine. we are spoiled. oh, and i've been moved into my own room upstairs, replete with air mattress and rusty windows. like i said: cush.

so this morning, i'm studying the site analysis and DPI (Democratic performance index) of my region, and the maps. tonight, our 20 state-wide 'Team Leaders' (TLs) descend onto this HQ House for their training. after their special session tonight, drinks are on tap at a place called the surly gurl saloon, then ready ourselves for tomorrow's big training. by tuesday morning, our keener pods will be on the ground doing their kicking-ass thing, and i'll be able to report on how the whole thing is playing out.

the VTO operation is working in concert with other initiatives like america votes, league of young voters, rock the vote, and swing semester. tomorrow morning, i'm going to try to hit a concert before the training: john legend will be performing on campus to kick off the early voting drive. i love him.


Anonymous Ian Clysdale said...

Hey, cool. My friend Cat's working in Madison with Advance Wisconsin, and I was talking to her yesterday and thinking of you, and wondering if you had made it down to work on the campaign.

10:12 p.m.  

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