Monday, November 03, 2008

Obama Overkill?

"Hello, my name is Steve. I'm part of a crazy horde of Obama supporters and our goal is to call every home in America at least 26 times."

Sometimes when you know how to do something well, there comes a point where doing it no longer pays off. I don't know if the Obama campaign's phone banks are still serving a useful purpose or if they've reached the point of diminishing returns. I spent two and a half hours this afternoon calling people in Las Vegas. I had five or six pages of names - about 20 to a page. Where they got the numbers I have no idea, but they were in numerical order all in area code 702. Most people were not home or the phone was not in order. I left a few messages, talked to a few people. Other people there had been calling Iowa and some were actually calling people in Anchorage. If you got a call, this is what it looked like where I was calling from. I should have brought an earplug for my other ear.

But overall, it didn't feel right.
  • I couldn't help but think about all the people being bothered by the phone calls. One caller near me said the people had been leaning for Obama but were so disgusted by the phone calls that they were now voting for McCain. Obviously the point is to make sure Obama supporters vote. But our list was orphan numbers - they didn't know what the people were planning on doing.
  • I couldn't help but wonder what the enormous amount of volunteer time might be better used for. Non-profits always need volunteers. Can this organization now be used to redirect the volunteers to some of those organizations or is this just about Obama?

Was my time usefully spent? I know, we're just the foot soldiers who are supposed to do as we're told because we don't understand the big picture. Someone said that McCain couldn't do this using real people. Their calls are all robocalls. I hope that the cumulative effect of all this phoning will actually pick up some Obama voters. The best option would be that they don't matter because the Obama lead will be enough without our effort. But who knows, so we were calling.

The script we had was really stilted and I started modifying once I got the hang of things. Humor did seem to get past the anger. I told some people who complained about the calls that I felt the same way so I decided to get out of the house and make calls so I didn't need to answer any more.

Tomorrow I experience something I haven't experienced for a while - being awake before 6am. I have to get to the polling place where I'll be a poll watcher by 6:45 after picking up my badge and lists at a gathering point.

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