Saturday, February 02, 2008

The phone campaign

If there is some shred of doubt that there is a major presidential primary occurring with national implications in which I will vote on Tuesday, that doubt can be erased with every robo-call to my house over the last 48 hours. Tennessee is filled with ringing phones and canned voices on the other end of the line today, as candidates gun for the votes of the undecided through the time-tested and proven tactic of annoyance. The targets of calls like this are not only the undecided voter, but the teaming legions of people who are as yet unaware that there is an election going on.

Such people do exist, despite the fact that a well-publicized early voting period has come and gone in this State and hundreds of thousands of people have already cast their votes, many for a candidate that has since withdrawn from the race. Those who have volunteered for campaigns before know how important these last-minute calls can be, whether from a real person or a machine. Nonetheless, these phone adventures can sometimes be entertaining.

The Hillary campaign put in a call yesterday-one that my wife says may have been a human being since the message actually began when our voicemail started recording. John McCain called earlier today, but his voice was a canned one. Among the things that Senator McCain had to say about himself was that he was a "consistent conservative" who would fight for "secure borders." The McCain camp doubtless is aware that illegal immigration is an A-list issue with many Tennessee voters, especially in heavily Republican East Tennessee (considering McCain's record on immigration issues, this makes his robo-call uniquely ironic).

Phone-banking is an important part of any campaign, but many campaigns often lose undecided voters through poor telephone strategies. In 2004, my wife and I were living in Cincinnati during the November election. On Election Day itself, we received several calls from the Kerry campaign or from Democratic headquarters asking my wife if she had voted yet. One volunteer even offered to take my wife to the polls. Three different times that day, Kerry operatives called offering my wife a ride to vote. She didn't need one because we lived within walking distance of our polling place, but if anyone would have needed transportation to the polls, it would have been me since I have a disability. The last call from the Democrats came two hours before the polls closed. The poor lady was left speechless when my wife said "yes, I have voted-I voted for President Bush."



At Saturday, February 02, 2008 8:06:00 PM, Blogger joe lance said...

This is why we elected today not to engage in a phone-calling effort for the candidate we support. We don't really like getting those phone calls, so why would we inflict them upon others?

But Hillary did robo-call me today.

At Sunday, February 03, 2008 12:19:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I only have a cell phone and so ... no robo-calls from anyone! :-)



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