Yesterday was another busy Saturday of GOTV activities in Durham. We had a special guest at the office, arriving about 11:30 and staying until about 12:15. All organizers were pulled back into the office from their satellite locations for this mid-day event and all their volunteers picking up their canvassing material for the noon shift were to meet them at the central office as well. Volunteers who started the 9am shift were also beginning to return from their walks by noon. Chaos.
Then Will Ferrell walked in. Bedlam. Office wall to wall. Halls filled. Press. Gawkers.
He retired to a back room to tape a PSR about early voting. Then emerged to stand on a chair and say a few words. He has family in 4-5 different cities in NC. In talking about his 13 yr old son urging him to come to NC to campaign, emotion got the better of him. It was a sweet and such an obviously spontaneous moment that carried the whole room into the depth of feeling about this campaign. He left to knock on a few doors himself before making appearances elsewhere.
We also had visits in the past couple of days from members of the Congressional Black Caucus including the vice-chair, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee from Texas and our own Congressman GK Butterfield of Durham. All the words spoken, the mutual admiration, the applause, the acknowledgments, the familiar characterizations of this election….they all make a difference. And none of it can truly articulate the deep sense of urgency, resolution, commitment and maybe also the apprehension, even dread pervading all of the activity in this office and all offices. Pedal to the metal.
The volunteers have been fantastic. We’ve had people from New York, Washington, DC, Baltimore and elsewhere coming through for the weekend, taking some turf to walk, knocking on doors and then coming back to the office to re-purpose canvassing materials, greet guests, direct traffic, bring in food. We’ve had film crews for Will Ferrel, the BBC, calls from Japan and there will likely be more.
As evidence of the dynamic nature of the campaign, all organizers from Durham have been pulled to Guilford County (the very blue Greensboro/High Point area) for the day. The Board of Elections in Guilford is republican-controlled. In defiance of court orders, they have severely limited early-voting sites for the first week of early voting. As indicated below, the restrictions they, along with 17 other NC counties, have had the desired effect.
Early voting numbers in those counties are far short of 2012 numbers, with Guilford showing the smallest turnout so far. More voting sites opened on Oct 27. Before that, people were leaving early voting sites after standing in line for 2 hours or more. These conditions, along with the Robert Comey’s violation of the Hatch Act of Friday, could well be enough to swing the state and damage down ballot democrats as well. We’ll see.