Grassroots activists took their support for the Republican presidential ticket to a key swing state Oct. 28.
Both candidates President Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney canceled their campaign events in Virginia due to the impending hurricane arrival. Nevertheless, a small but dedicated contingent hopped on a charter bus, sponsored by the Republican National Committee, and spent Sunday phone-banking and knocking on voters’ doors as part of a greater Get Out The Vote effort, which hinges on in-person interaction between activists and voters.
Michael Short, the communications director for the Republican Virginia campaign, said, “There is no substitute for person-to-person contact. It is by far the most effective means of reaching voters and getting them to cast a ballot for your candidate.”
Since April, the Republican message has reached nearly every person of voting age in the state by knocking on doors and making phone calls. The 15 activists deployed on Sunday alone knocked on 1500 doors and made 3200 phone calls, according to the campaign office’s end-of-day statistics.
The race remains tight, but multiple activists on the trip said they’re confident Romney will win.
Grant J. Grissom, one of the volunteers on the trip, said, “We definitely stand a good chance. The polls are starting to inch closer together.
“I’ve been saying almost the entire time since he was nominated that Romney, out of anyone in the Republican camp even back in ‘08, has a chance of beating Obama, it’s Gov. Romney,” he said.
Laurel Howanitz, another campaigner, said, “If you had asked me a couple of months ago, I would have had a different answer, but I think the momentum has really taken off in Romney’s favor.”
“There’s something about momentum,” she said. “There’s a lot to be said for it.”
“If you can light a fire under the base support, then you get people who come out on a Sunday,” she said between knocking on doors in Fredericksburg and neighboring communities.
Grissom, Howanitz and the other 13 volunteers on what the RNC calls the Swing State Bus Deployment spent the Sunday afternoon checking off houses on their walk lists, inventories by which campaign offices keep track of information on voters in specific precincts.
The campaign then uses what it learns from one-on-one conversations to target specific households and encourage occupants to make it to the polls on Election Day.
Virginia State Senator Bryce Reeves stopped by the campaign office on Sunday to thank the activists. “The volunteers you see coming in here that are homegrown, for the last 3 years they have been working hard,” he said.
“That’s how this election will be won,” he said.
Nothing works better than one-on-one interactions, especially when voters are growing numb to the onslaught of television and radio political ads, he said.
Fix Contributor Julie Ershadi is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College
(Image: NASA / Wikimedia Commons)