Hit of Democratic Juju

November 5, 2016

Went back up to Sparks today to canvass with the Hillary campaign. Three more days…



It felt good to be away from my computer (even though our smartphones were always charged and at hand, and we did check in from time to time, because, you know, FiveThirtyEight).


So… here’s a recap of the day:

Met at my house in the dark morning hours, piled into Ann’s van, and headed out…. me, Ann, Darlene, Maureen, Sherri and Pamela.

Watched the sun rise over foggy valley farm fields while sipping our Starbucks…


Were thrilled by snow at the summit…


(Guess the car got pretty fogged up with our steamy political fretting and analyses!)

Slings and arrows hurled at Trump aside, we were a pretty jolly bunch:


Arrived at the Sparks campaign headquarters at about 9:15, having just missed the morning’s training session. Many carloads of canvassers had left already and still the place was PACKED. Maybe a hundred people were still pouring through the doors; signing in; clustering around volunteers getting abbreviated training; standing in lines to get their clipboards, maps and address sheets; grabbing some snacks and water from the food table.

Have you ever seen more determined foot soldiers? Here are Pamela, Ann and Maureen reporting for duty…




Early voting ended yesterday in Nevada, so, as of today, the job of volunteers has officially shifted to Get Out The Vote (GOTV). Recall, that when we went up weeks ago, our job was to register voters. Once that deadline passed, campaign volunteers worked on actually encouraging democratic voters to cast ballots before the early voting deadline (a huge percentage of Nevada voters does that), and even to get people to the polls (California does not have onsite early voting, but Nevada does). Our job today is to knock on the doors of all of Sparks’ registered democrats and remind them to vote on Tuesday. We remind them of their polling place and its hours. We underscore that they live in a swing county in a swing state and every vote counts. We help them make a plan for election day voting. We make a note on our sheets about who they might be supporting in the presidential, senate and congressional races.

This is the woman who trained us. She’s explaining why some voters have been crossed out–they’ve already voted! Early voting in Nevada concluded yesterday and campaign volunteers worked late into the night to update the voter rolls (impressive work).


She also reviewed these canvassing rules:


Then, we were off. The six of us were assigned a huge apartment complex. We worked in pairs. Darlene and I were partners:


In two hours, she and I hit 41 apartments. The vast majority of people were not even home. We spoke to only five real live people–three of whom did not match the data sheet (a lot of turnover, particularly in apartment buildings). We only filled out TWO voting day plans. But that was two people we can confidently count on to show up on election day and vote for the democratic ticket. Multiply that by all the other people knocking on doors in Sparks in the next three days and you have a ground game with significant impact.

And here’s the thing: the ground game is a fantastic effort. It’s passionate work. These volunteers care deeply, each and every one (I count myself among them).  The work, the whole experience, feels like a breath of sanity. It felt so good and so healing to spend a day with informed, smart, caring people with shared world views working their butts off for a cause that feels critically important (electing Hillary).

My contribution a few weeks ago registering voters was tiny (two, even though one registered independent), and my contribution today ensuring that democrats get to the polls was also tiny (two, we hope). But it has value, goddammit! One, it’s a lesson in the multiplier effect… lots of people (in Hillary’s case, LOTS of people) contributing something, adds up… and that’s what a ground game is all about (take that Trump–he with no people-powered ground game whatsoever)! And two, it restores my faith in humanity. It feels enormously gratifying to be with like-minded people working toward a common objective, and just gives me the most blissful sense of social responsibility.

It also felt good to channel a mountain of anxiety and frustration into something constructive and useful and also critically important.

Yeah… that!

So anyway…. we canvassed. Then we broke for lunch.


We picked a great Mexican restaurant and had lively, very lively, conversations about all kinds of juicy topics. Great fun.

We returned to the field office and found dozens and dozens of volunteers all over the inside and outside, cell phones in hand, huddled over call sheets. There were so many volunteers in Sparks (and in Reno and Las Vegas, too, we learned) that they actually ran low on neighborhoods to canvass and were shifting to making calls.

Some shots:



Three of us returned to the streets (Ann, Maureen and Sherri) and three of us started making calls. I sat outside for awhile, then moved inside. I spent about two hours sitting in this cozy little corner (very comfy, I almost fell asleep):


It was a welcoming corner with rotating volunteers. I spoke to so many people… definitely a party vibe.

At one point, one of the campaign staffers brought a woman over to us to meet and chat up. Turned out it was Lisa Jackson, Obama’s very impressive head of the EPA (2009-2013, now the environmental director at Apple). She was on hand to motivate the volunteers.

How cool is that?

We hung around the office making calls, talking, eating (a bit) and absorbing all the good democratic juju until our other three returned, then took some photos…

Here are the “eens,” Darl and Maur:


Here are all of us:


Pamela, M, Sherri, D, Ann and me.

And then took off.

We were able to get through Reno okay (Trump was actually making an appearance there, coincidentally enough… Nevada being a very important swing state). I suggested we have dinner at the Monte Vista in Dutch Flat, which we did (great) and got home around 11:00pm

Whatta, whatta day.



Note: The day after our effort, here’s what the Hillary campaign sent out:

Kari! Quick update on some seriously impressive numbers from the first day of Get Out the Vote:

  • 4,000,000 voters called
  • 3,000,000 doors knocked
  • 3 states actually ran out of walk packets at a few locations because SO many volunteers showed up. (Don’t worry – we made more!)

Here’s what I need from you: Can you call 10 people in Nevada right now — like right now?

Nevada is squarely in the toss-up column, so your call to a Hillary supporter could mean the difference between them showing up at the polls or staying home.

Let’s get it done,


Robby Mook

Campaign Manager

Hillary for America








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