High school students in Ohio were part of the door-to-door campaigning for the recent presidential election. This Classroom Connection tells the story of their experiences volunteering.
Credit: McGraw-Hill Companies
Classroom Connection: Campaign Volunteering
Election Central’s Classroom Connection asks two AP Government classes at Worthington Kilbourne High School in Worthington, Ohio to give their opinions on the events of this year’s presidential campaign race.
Here, the students weighed in on the campaign’s use of advertising and social media. –ed.
Door-to-Door for President Obama
A few weeks ago, I signed up to volunteer with Organizing for America campaign. As a junior in high school, you can imagine what I was feeling when I was told that I’d have to go door to door and campaign for Obama. I was terrified. But I wasn’t only scared because I’d have to go to strangers’ houses, but because I’d have to talk to them about politics, a very controversial topic.
The first step to campaigning was volunteer training at 9am. I received a packet filled with names, points for persuasion, and a script to follow in case I got lost during the conversation. I was surprised when I saw that I alone had around 70 houses to go to. Luckily, I was accompanied by a friend to go on my journey. After we’d had the run through on everything, the campaign organizer wished us luck, and made a remark that stuck out to me, she said, “…after this you’ll see how hard it is to get someone elected, especially the right person.” This comment made me realize that I was doing something that seriously meant something to people.
It was a particularly chilly Saturday morning when my friend and I began our trip. We figured out a plan in which we would alternate speaking and writing down notes, so people would not get annoyed that we were writing everything they said down. When we knocked on the first door and no one answered we weren’t particularly worried but when we got to our 30th door and hadn’t gotten a single person to answer the door, we were close to hopeless. At the end of our whole route we had gotten 10 out of 62 people to answer the door, and of those 10, 6 refused to tell us any information regarding their stance saying it was private information, 3 said they supported the president and quickly shut the door, and one far right conservative who tried to chastise us for campaigning for such a candidate.
Now as I’m reflecting back on my campaigning experience, I realize that door to door campaigning is pretty hard, and it takes someone with a lot of motivation, and passion to really follow through and go back every week. That day, I failed to persuade anyone into voting for Obama; so I give big ups to the people who are able to canvass every week until the election and change people’s minds.
Making Calls for Governor Romney
I had an overall positive experience working for the Mitt Romney campaign. I volunteered to call people and ask them a set of questions that included: Do you plan on supporting Romney in the election? (If they answered yes) Have you received your absentee ballot? (If they answered yes) Have you returned your absentee ballot? After I asked the questions we would punch in the answer for each person into a survey database where the information is compiled. I didn’t see too many people at the call center. There were probably 15 people in the room mostly making calls, but some were on computers.
The room was covered in Romney signs and I could mainly only hear people making the phone calls and the occasional ring of a bell that one of the callers would ring if the person they surveyed answered yes to every question. The lady that explained the bell to me said it was supposed to get us “Fired-up.” I personally wasn’t very excited about the bell ringing so I didn’t do it. In the end it wasn’t very effective for me but some other people would laugh when they did it, so it may have worked for them.
My reaction to the entire experience was mainly boredom, it wasn’t very exciting work and I didn’t love making calls because I know people aren’t too fond of receiving political calls. Working for the Romney campaign made me get a little more excited for the election than I previously was because this was the first campaign I’ve ever volunteered for and put my time into. I don’t think I swayed any votes or got anyone to vote for Romney that would have otherwise voted for Obama. However, I do think I helped the surveyors get a better view of who was planning on voting for, or had already voted for, Romney and who wasn’t planning on it.