Sunday, November 3, 2013

Voting - GOTV for deB in Chelsea NYC

GOTV volunteers for Bill de Blasio making phone calls from NY State Sen. 
Brad Hoylman's Office at 14th St. and 8th Ave. Photo by JT Marlin.
Political upsets are most likely to occur in races where the turnout is low and one side has a better GOTV operation.

GOTV is both the first and the last phase of all political campaigns.

In the first phase of GOTV, names and contact information of supporters are sought, to:
- raise money,
- recruit volunteers and
- generate a list of people to call on election day, to remind them to vote and offer a lift to the polls.

The first volunteer-led computer database for a presidential campaign was I believe by the Gary Hart techies in 1987-88. I contributed my own Kaypro to the effort and I wrote an article on the innovative campaign for a local newspaper. If anyone who reads this is interested, I will be glad to hunt down the article.

In the final GOTV phase, the fundraising and volunteers are in place and the main remaining task is to remind people to vote and either take them to the polls or obtain commitments from them that they will go there on their own.

In the New York City mayoral election, what has been happening this past weekend is the culmination of the GOTV effort, namely getting commitments to vote and reminding people to vote.

Information on Campaign Organization and Issues

FYI, Wikipedia has the equivalent of a short course in political campaigning, under the following headings:
The Get-Out-The-Vote effort has an important side benefit for pollsters in helping to ensure that their predictions are accurate. Pollsters ask respondents questions to determine both "How likely are you to vote?" and "How likely are you to vote for Bill de Blasio?" and they weight responses accordingly. The more likely a respondent is to vote, and the more certain the respondent is that he-she will vote for de Blasio, the more confident the pollster is in the results.

But in the end, the voter has to make it a priority to vote on election day, and without a strong internal conscience or an external reminder, an election that is expected to have a small turnout could end up being a tossup.

Chelsea, NYC, 2013

As a chronicler of political activity in the Chelsea neighborhood, I have participated in the GOTV effort today. I was invited by de Blasio headquarters to contact the Chelsea district campaign office to help them in the area where I live. This is a phone bank and rallying point for canvassing operations in the area. One chooses a time slot such as 10 am to 1 pm or 1-4 pm or 4-7 pm). Then one shows up at the office, where one is either sent out to do canvassing with a list of apartments in a building to call on, or one is given a list of phone numbers to call. (The local club, the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club, chose to show its presence by setting up at Eighth Avenue and 23rd Street. It had campaigned for Christine Quinn in the primary.)
Mary Duggan, my GOTV partner canvassing
Penn South for de Blasio et al..

Mary Duggan and I were sent up to a building in Penn South, where I discovered for the first time after living in the neighborhood for 42 years that some of the numbers on the Penn South buildings are based on their position on the cross streets and others on their position Eighth or Ninth Avenue. That's why 280 Ninth is north, not south, of 365 (which is on Ninth, but takes its address from the nearest cross street).

The building we were assigned to has eight apartments per floor. About half of the apartments were designated pro-deBlasio based on prior phone calls. The landslide Democratic primary victory for de Blasio was organized almost totally from Brooklyn headquarters because the Manhattan clubs were working for Quinn, Thompson or (in the case of the Village Independent Democrats) Liu.

On each floor, at least one person answered the doorbell. In the other cases, we left literature promoting de Blasio for Mayor, Letitia James for Public Advocate, Scott Stringer for Comptroller and Gale Brewer for Manhattan Borough President. Someone already seems to have left literature on de Blasio in the building, but a second flyer lets the occupants know that they were visited again.

At the end of the building canvass, we had a few names of additional people who might be volunteers, and some commitments to vote on Tuesday. I brought back the detailed report on our canvass for use in phone calling on the day of the election. I volunteered to canvass the building where I live if the de Blasio campaign is able to get to me the same information that we were given for the Penn South canvass. I just don't want to knock on GOP doors.

The other thing I have volunteered to do is observe poll-opening as an official inspector from the local club or the de Blasio campaign on Tuesday morning.

This is democracy where the wheels hit the road.