Embedded: On the trail
Written by Bwog Staff
Bwog editor Lydia DePillis is still in Kentucky, where she’s misplaced her camera cord–pictures are going to have to wait until the morning.
The Columbia Dems are Beshear’s shock troops. Not that anyone’s shocked to see them–most residents in contested districts have encountered eager young campaign workers before. But it’s a cool name anyway.
The typical activity on a campaign trip, along with phone banking, is canvassing. After rallying at campaign headquarters, the 50-odd college students split into three-person teams, girded themselves with Google maps, and set out to cheerily remind the citizens of Fayette County to vote.
The intimidating lists of names and accompanying numbers that each trio carried is part a sophisticated “microtargeting” system (pioneered by Hillary brain Mark Penn) that the campaign director told me cost in the neighborhood of half a million dollars. According to him, the system will be used all around the country next year, although the Republicans have had it for decades. With almost no other big races around the country, the Democratic National Committee has poured quite a bit of money and resources into the Beshear campaign—the campaign director himself is a DNC employee.
I tagged along with Yoav Guttman, GS/JTS ’10, Mike Schwartz, GS/JTS ’09, and Jake Matilsky, GS ’09, a spectacle of doorknocking efficiency if I ever saw one. As we wandered through a genteel neighborhood of southeastern Lexington, they politely rapped on the doors of reliable Democratic voters, getting responses maybe a third of the time, and leaving a Beshear banner on each one.
There were some charmers. An 88-year-old woman came to the door with shaving cream on her hand, speaking through the door because she was shaving her husband. Another group told of going through a “gayborhood,” with a high density of same-sex households. Ori Sosnik, CC ’09, noticed a trend: the poorer people he visited were more often undecided, while more affluent residents typically knew exactly whom they would vote for. Those who declared they wouldn’t be voting for Beshear often gave as a reason the fact that he would legalize gambling across the state to raise funds for priorities like education and health care. But overall, noted Justine Lai, BC ’09, the going was a lot easier here than in Ohio last year. Perhaps the Southern hospitality stereotype, at least, has a little merit.
Upon their return, many canvassers took advantage of an outlet store and its dirt-cheap UK logowear. They still wouldn’t quite fit in, but it’s a start.
This evening, the group is going to a party hosted by the College Democrats of America in Louisville, where there’s sure to be lots of…milk.