Iowa came and went with its long build-up and quirky caucus process. Although Hillary was the designated winner by the slimmest of margins, all the candidates could mull over plenty of exit polls and results. The winner got the headlines and kept the leader status, while the runner-up won just as many delegates and maintained viability as the surging opponent. In politics as in sports, it seems, every win is not a complete win, just as every loss has its bright spots.
After Iowa, Hillary’s campaign staff was divvied up to other future primary or caucus states. Tennessee was no exception. We now have a press secretary and 10 new field organizers (like me, but more experienced). No new support is coming my way yet, with many of those new organizers heading toward the larger cities. Because most of my region consists of mainly rural counties that heavily voted for Hillary in the 2008 primary, focusing resources where a higher percentage of younger voters (where she is not faring well) and voters of color live (where she is performing very well), may be prudent to get out the vote. So, I am still plugging away on my own, left with my own devices and new networks.
One network I am nurturing was in a county that held a MLK celebration. We marched down Main Street with a Democratic Banner to a high school where the festivities were held. The exuberant gathering featured an earsplitting band and five preachers as speakers. I realize MLK was a minister, but I was looking for more discourse on his peace efforts and the civil disobedience movement, rather than being saved. Spirited sermons were mixed with constant interjections of hands reaching skyward, “Amen”ing, and other encouragements from the audience. In sum, I met some more contacts and rejoiced in Dr. King’s life. As I left the celebration, freedom was loudly ringing in my ears.
One resource I now have is the Democratic National Campaign Votebuilder (voter database). Candidates who subscribe to VoteBuilder can use this powerful online system to identify voters, create lists (for walking, mailing, phone banks, or emailing), and store voter survey information. Two hours of phone training enabled me to build voter lists in my region. The State Democratic Party creates these using voter records from the Tennessee Board of Elections in prior contests, whether one voted in Federal, State, or local elections and primaries. Information on each voter includes name, age, county, voting precinct, and likely party preference (strong Democrat, leaning Republican, etc.). Now I can create voter lists for one county or up to 20 counties for phone banks. Pretty handy.
My on-going field work has produced mixed results. I have attended three more county meetings, and am always welcomed, but the proof lies in the follow-up calls afterwards. The different levels of county organization and participation is revealing and frustrating. Sometimes I feel like I have hit a wall. And then, I receive a promising phone call, I develop a relationship with a new contact person, or someone actually schedules an event. The first phone bank party was held in my home County with another scheduled for next week. Conversely, a house party was planned with a guest speaker, was re-scheduled, and ultimately cancelled. One county that has its own office (only two of my assigned counties have one) has offered to hold a meeting with other adjacent counties just for me. In all, I am like that slogan you see on t-shirts, “I am the leader, which way did they go?”
However, I am still enjoying the political process, meeting people, and learning how I may help Hillary become President. It’s not for the weak, this method, but neither will be the subsequent job.