Sunday, November 4, 2018
BTRTN: So What is Canvassing Really Like? Going Door-to-Door in New York’s 19th District
Tom and Wendy take to the streets in a key election.
Ever wonder what canvassing is really all about?
Yesterday Wendy and I spent the afternoon canvassing in one of the most hotly contested races in America, New York’s 19th District. This campaign is on BTRTN’s list of “50 Races That Will Define America” (http://www.borntorunthenumbers.com/2018/11/btrtn-final-midterms-snapshot-50-races.html ) and is the kind of “tossup” race that the Dems must win to take the House.
The race features a challenge by Democrat Antonio Delgado to the incumbent, Republican John Faso. This district is north of us, in the eastern part of the state, a wide (and diverse) expanse that includes Columbia, Delaware, Greene, Otsego, Schoharie, Sullivan, and Ulster counties and parts of Broome, Dutchess, Montgomery and Rensselaer counties. Faso is a first-term Republican who won by 8 points in 2016. Delgado is an African-American attorney, a Colgate grad, Rhodes Scholar with a Harvard Law degree. The polling is tight with Delgado a bit ahead; there have been three polls in October, the first with Faso up +1, then Delgado +5 and the final showing a dead heat. The last two polls were basically fielded last week.
Wendy heard about the canvassing opportunity from Indivisible, and we drove to New Paltz, 70 miles away, in time for a quick orientation session at the campaign offices of Jen Metzger, a New York State Senate candidate also involved in a crucial race, as the Democrats attempt to gain a majority in that body (it often shocks non-New Yorkers to learn that Republicans control the Senate in our supposedly deep blue state).
We were amazed that the Metzger headquarters was teeming with fellow would-be canvassers, over 50 of us, everyone excited and ready to help. We had been told to download the “MiniVan” app which facilitates our canvassing, and the training session was basically to learn to navigate the app. The campaign people gave us a route number that defined several neighborhoods in New Paltz, and once we input the route number into the app, it displayed the addresses for our door-to-door visits. The lists were comprised of Democrats only -- our mission was to ensure they were planning to vote, and to confirm they knew their polling place location. We were not out there to change any minds. We were also told how to input the data, which would be invaluable on Election Day in following up with those who planned to vote for the Dems.
Armed with the app and some “door hangers” (campaign literature about Delgado, Metzger and Democratic Sheriff candidate Juan Figueroa that we would hang on the doorknob if no one was home), off we went. Our target neighborhood seemed solidly middle class, and, surprisingly, loaded with Delgado signs on the lawns (we saw only one Faso sign). I was the “front man,” knocking on the doors and talking, while Wendy was the “brains,” telling me which houses to go to, who was in the household, inputting the resulting data, and doing the driving. It was a very efficient division of labor.
We ended up visiting 45 homes, split roughly half and half between actually talking to someone and finding nobody home. With one exception, those who we talked to were indeed Democratic supporters who planned to vote – most thanked us for our efforts. The only Republican we met was extremely cordial – he let me give my spiel to the end, and then affably explained his party preference. We shared a laugh on how he ended up on my list, and parted with a handshake.
None of this was difficult, and after several hours we were done, and headed home. We’d done our bit for the day. There are still two full days for you to help in your area if you can. All the organizers say the most important day of all is: Tuesday.