A Bittersweet End in the Old Dominion
Written by Bwog Staff
Clear skies on Election Day brought a gleam of hope to the Columbia University College Democrats’ fourth and final day of campaigning for Creigh Deeds in Virginia. Sean Quirk has the last word on the trip.
Disregarding the dismal polls, we awoke at 6:30 A.M., performed our morning kinesthetics, and began our work for the Democratic gubernatorial candidate. Tuesday entailed more door-to-door voter contact (woot), as Columbians dispersed throughout the Manassas region to get out the vote for good ol’ Deeds.
Knocking on doors for 6 hours is a blast. But knocking on the same doors you visited yesterday makes campaigning only that much more thrilling. Canvassing familiar neighborhoods allowed the Dems to move quickly and revisit voters they now almost knew on a first-name basis.
Even after those four days, some voters remained particularly receptive to the canvassers. Michael Rady, CC ’13, reached out to voters in a small trailer park, sometimes employing his Spanish skills to speak to the residents. “Hello, I’m a volunteer with the Deeds for Governor campaign, and I was just coming by to remind you that today is Election Day,” says Michael. An enthusiastic older woman with a thick southern accent replies, “My daddy voted Democrat, so I always vote Democrat. I voted at 6 A.M.!”
But not everyone was so on top of their civic duties. Across town, Tom Breen, CC ’10, knocked on hundreds of doors in apartment complexes and sprawling suburbs. Scaling a concrete wall and slipping into a locked high-rise behind a resident, Tom breached the Riverside Station Apartment fortress and contacted the inconsistent voters on his canvass list. When Tom asks one resident if she voted yet, the young woman at the door responds, “Oh, yeah, I should probably do that.”
By 4 P.M., we were done canvassing and back on the interstate toward New York. But the work continued even on the road: students called Virginian voters from call sheets on their cell phones. At 7 P.M., all polls were closed and phones were quiet. The Dems turned on the radio and waited.
Within an hour we learned that Deeds lost, and the group’s disappointment was palpable from our van’s unusual silence. Days of tireless work failed to secure the governorship. The rest of Virginia’s election results were bittersweet. Republican candidates for Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General also won their races. The Dems, however, were excited to hear that Luke Torian, another Democratic candidate we were helping, was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.
But the trip has always been about getting students further involved in the political process, and with brigades of Columbia students driving to a state most did not know to help a candidate they never met, the trip was still a success.