The Columbia Dems Go to Virginia
Written by Bwog Staff
Bwog Daily Editor and White House Bureau Chief James Downie checks in from Virginia, with the College Democrats’ campaign trip.
LEESBURG, VA. – Back in the so-called “glory days” of student activism (really?), student campaigners would arrive in an broken-down Eurovan, sleep on hard floors, scrounge for their own food, and build rafts from local…no, wait, that last one was Robinson Crusoe. Anyways, while student campaigns of yore may have some differences, the method of choice remains the same: walk up to door, knock, (hopefully) talk, repeat.
If they want to help win Virginia, the Columbia Dems will have to do that again, and again, and again. In the “Old Dominion State,” the Dems have chosen probably the most important state for both Obama and the Democratic Party. While many states have moved in and out of contention, Virginia has been a close state for as long as any in the presidential campaign. Obama has opened a slightly larger lead recently, with polls giving him anywhere from a 4 to 9 point lead.
The closeness of Virginia came as no surprise to the second candidate that the Democrats are campaigning for: Senate nominee and hugely popular former governor Mark Warner. Warner has built another huge lead (20 points or more in many polls) on both his appeal to rural “NASCAR dads” (a rare skill among Democrats), and the changing demographics of the state – as the District of Columbia grows, more moderate-to-liberal suburbanites flood into Northern Virginia, slowly changing the state from solid Republican to Democrat. If Obama and Warner win, they will be the first Democrats to win presidential and senate races in Virginia since the mid-1960s.
And yet the toughest task for these Democrats (and the surest sign of a Democratic landslide if they’re successful) will be electing the local congressional candidate, Judy Feder. Feder, who is running against Frank Wolf, the longest-serving member of Virginia’s House delegation. In 2006, Feder lost to Wolf by 16 points, and the race remains Republican favored, but the Democrats hope that money, momentum, and a recent video showing an attack by a Wolf staffer on a Feder staffer will make things close. To do that, they’ll need these Columbia door knockers.
As the margin in the 2006 House race indicates, then, the Columbia Dems are not on favorable territory. After a long trip from New York yesterday afternoon, the Dems gathered in the Days Inn eating room for an appearance from Feder herself. They then stuffed themselves on subs, while sharing stories of their trips, and got down to what college students do on Friday nights, at least until the police showed up. The Dems board, upstanding young politicos that they are, wants to stress to all readers that no Dems organizing time or money went into anything that got the cops called. Really. Regardless, many Dems managed to pack great costumes – even if the theme of “political scandals” led to some repetitiveness (a gazillion Marilyn Monroes, for example), costumes included Barack and Michelle “New Yorker style,” congressional pages, and every concievable “-gate.” Oh, and Michael Phelps…
After the festivities, the Dems went to sleep, wisely squeezing in what they could before the best part of campaign trips: early wake up times. After being revved up by various Dems leaders, they were joined by Feder staffers to start the first of two days of that “method of choice” mentioned at the start of this post: walk up to door, knock, (hopefully) talk, repeat. With each person assigned 75-100 doors today, and 130 Dems doing the knocking, somewhere between ten and thirteen thousand Virgians met today with Columbia Democrat foot soldiers, with varying degrees of success. Door-knocking has its physical side effects (“my feet are completely sore and swollen,” one tired campaigner said), but spirits remain high one day into this remarkably confident campaign trip. Rather than split the door-knocking into two smaller parts, Bwog’ll bring you all the style and hilarious stories of door-knocking (including attacks with yard tools, navigating long driveways, and other hazards) in tomorrow’s installment.