1000 Doors for Obama — 1 month, 1000 doors, $5000

Election Night Hangover: President-Elect Obama Edition
November 6, 2008, 7:34 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

At about 6:45 on election night, 45 minutes before the close of the polls on a cold, dark, and rainy day, Amanda and I headed out to our final push for those last couple votes.  We went to a big, primarily African-American apartment complex off Wake Forest Road in East Durham after being dispatched from the home of Faulkner Fox and Gunther Peck (more on that later…).  We had a pack of names and addresses, but decided to forego the lists and the literature and just blind-knock every door we could, looking for those last couple of stragglers.  Again, as has been the usual during all of my canvassing journeys, most people were upset about some random person knocking on their door during dinner-time, but once we said we were from the Obama campaign, they flashed a smile and happily came to the door.  Almost everyone we talked to had already voted.  Many of them were excited we were there, even though their doors had likely been knocked a handful of times already since Saturday.  Some wanted to shake our hands.  Some wanted to talk politics.  But everyone was upbeat about the prospect of the Obama win that was hours away.  

Finally, we found an apartment of two young women (maybe in their 30s) who were sitting around enjoying their after-work, early evening beers and looking forward to watching the results.  Cassandra and Janiqua seemed excited about Obama, but when we asked them if they had voted yet, they said they hadn’t.  We asked them what the hell they were waiting for and encouraged them to vote.  Since they didn’t have cars, they didn’t think they could get there.  So we said, get some clothes on, get a jacket on, and get in my car – we’ll take you right now.  Surprised that we had offered, they took us up on it, and in a flurry of jackets and chugging their final beers, we got them to the car and to the polls, with about 20 minutes to spare.  Janiqua was a first time voter, and at the polling location that we took them to, the poll workers all erupted in cheers and rounds of applause for each new voter.  They both explained that they were very thankful that we came to pick them up and give them that last ride of the day so that one day they could tell their kids that they were able to vote for the first African-American president.  

About an hour or two prior to that, at the Durham for Obama headquarters, aka Faulkner’s home, there was a mob scene.  When we arrived late that afternoon, there were probably about 30 people out on the front porch, another handful in the living room doing data entry and tapping away on computers and looking at maps, another five or so in the kitchen helping with food and drinks for the volunteer army, and probably another 20 or 30 out on the front pathway waiting to get in and get to work.  Durham Academy students had recently gotten out of school and about 15 or 20 students, probably all too young to vote, were lining up to volunteer.  When we finally got up to the front door to sign in, the volunteer estimated proudly that they were approaching about 500 volunteers for the day at that one location.  Keep in mind that this was one of three or four different staging locations just for West Durham (there were 14 different staging locations for all of Durham).  At the point when we arrived, every single pack had been walked at least once, every single door of a registered, not-yet-voted voter had been knocked multiple times, and volunteers were flooding precincts that were showing less than perfect turnout.  Volunteers were being told not to come back to the staging location.  To take their packs, knock every door, give a ride to any voter, and when they finished the pack, to start all over again on door one, and hit every door again and again and again until every single voter had voted.  

Needless to say, the ground operation in Durham was staggering, and we certainly did turn out our vote.  Durham County, as usual, was the most pro-Obama in North Carolina (Tarheels – nice job, but you guys got a close second) with a final vote breakdown of 76% Obama, 24% McCain, with turnout just cracking 76% (the highest turnout since at least ’94 – couldn’t find data from before that).  And it wasn’t as if it wasn’t worth it.  As of about noon today, two days after the election, the AP and NBC have finally called North Carolina for Barack Obama and colored in the state in a nice shade of blue (Duke blue or Tarheel blue, depending on the station/website – either way is fine with me – sorry NC state).  As of this writing, the margin in North Carolina is 14,053 out of 4.25 million votes cast.  The margin is so close, that in addition to being the second to last state called in the election (MO still close, though McCain seems to have the lead), the final percentage breakdown was 49.86% Obama to 49.53% McCain.  How satisfying to know, in real numbers, and in real concrete-ness, that those 1000+ doors that I knocked actually had a real effect on this election.  That is truly the most incredible feeling.  

On election night, we went out to the Barack’n’Roll Party in downtown Durham, and watched the returns down there for a bit before returning back to the apartment to pop the champagne and watch Obama’s momentous speech.  Watching his speech, and experiencing this moment in real-time made me pretty emotional.  I welled up a bit listening to him speak to the nation and the world.  Even yesterday, watching the news and replays of some of the pieces of his speech still made me misty-eyed…  I’m having trouble, being more of a stream-of-consciousness writer than an actually-talented author, articulating what I’m feeling, but I do know that what we experienced the other night was incredible, moving, and a night for the history books.

If you got a newspaper yesterday, congrats, because there were none to be found anywhere I went looking.


PS – If you like the poster below, and want to order one, you can get them here at Cafe Press, printed on a nice glossy poster at around 16″x19″, or just navigate to http://www.cafepress.com/barack_wins.


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