Yesterday, since early voting ended in Hillsborough County (Tampa Bay) I was unsure what I would do with my time or my day. GOTV? Which is always fun and interesting, but I feel that the youngins on the Obama campaign handle this stuff much better than I. So, much to my surprise my friend (the Vice Chair of the Democratic Party in Tampa) who abandoned me on Friday turned up on Sunday. She called me and we talked about our experiences on Saturday. How the early vote lines were out of control. Five hour waits at College Hill and Temple Terrace in Tampa and that Miami Dade County was supposedly much busier. She said to me, if you want you can go volunteer at the Florida for Change statewide hotline. She heard many people were not getting great advice and she thought it a good idea for me to go down and log some hours. voila, I had my day planned out. I decided this will be my last day as I am flying home to be in New Jersey on election day. After all, I am an elected official, whatever that means...but I am needed.
Anyway, I got downtown early enough, introduced myself to the Legal team. They were all about 25 years old (this must be the reason I was needed down here) and Hastings and Chicago Law school grads. Fresh grads at that. I was given a phone and told go get started. The phone rang within seconds and I was off and running. The statewide hotline in Florida is designed for anyone having trouble with voting or a simple question about voting to call and get their question answered. The typical question was: "Is early voting still going on?" "Where?" "Can you tell me my precinct I will be voting in?" "I requested an absentee ballot, but I did not get it, can I still vote?" Many of the same questions I was asked at the polls. But, here is where it got impressive. "I need a ride to the polls, can you help?" When this question arose you inquire as to the person's information plug in into the website and submit. Within hours this person is contacted and set up with a ride to the polls.
Or someone might say I requested an absentee ballot, but I cannot leave the house (disabled or elderly) can someone come and get it? You plug this information in the website at headquarters and the person's vote will be picked up and submitted by the Obama campaign. We had several calls about this exact scenario, that an Obama campaign rep. called and knew they had an absentee and is willing to come to the house and pick it up. Unbelievably, a colleague next to me received a call from an elderly gentleman that asked that if he was voting for McCain would the Obama campaign pick up the ballot? My colleague encouraged him to vote for Obama anyway. We checked with some higher ups and indeed the Obama campaign would pick up his vote. This was told to me early, the Obama campaign does not discriminate as to voting. They are not out to stop anyone from voting. This seemed outwardly and foolishly selfless to me, but impressive nonetheless.
This all leads to where I am going. Predictions. The Obama campaign's GOTV strategy and volunteer structure is something I have never seen or heard about before. It is sophisticated, energetic and motivated, if not sometimes a bit chaotic. But, all of my time spent in the field this week in Florida, in Hillsborough County I saw one McCain volunteer. This is a county Bush won handily over Kerry (so the vote said). He showed up nailed in a few signs and left. But, Obama volunteers were everywhere and they are ALL willing to go the extra mile.
This will prove to be the difference between a win and a landslide (these predictions are based on the hope that no shenanigans will take place, but this is a highly suspect proposition). There are several states to keep our eyes on early. Florida's polls close at 7 PM and I don't believe it will be called until late, but I believe Florida will go blue for Obama this year based solely on GOTV operations. Obama will win Virginia as well and Pennsylvania. These two states are the states to watch tomorrow night early. If both Virginia and Pennsylvania go for Obama early the election is over. Pennsylvania, however scares me for one reason and one reason only. McCain is making his last stand here. I do not think he has enough to win it, but why is he spending so much time there? Is he planning on stealing it? Not to be a conspiracy theorist, but 2000 had Florida, 2004 had Ohio, and I wonder is Pennsylvania this year's stomping ground?
Still, I do not think it is enough. In my humble opinion Obama will win the following Bush states: Ohio will go blue, New Mexico and Iowa. I think Florida will be close, but he will pull it out. Colorado and Nevada will also go for Obama. This leaves Missouri, North Carolina and Indiana. I do not believe that these states are really leaning Obama though it is the prevailing opinion in many polls. I will believe it when I see it. What gives me pause, however is the night could prove to be a watershed moment in American elections and maybe Obama's GOTV is so good this will occur. I don't know. My prediction is these states stay red, but barely. Missouri probably by a 51-49 margin and Indiana and North Carolina by a four point margin. Still, the victory will be sizable and he will have his "working majority for change" that he talks about and it will be time to get down to work. If Montana and North Dakota go for Obama I will lay in shock and it will mean the landslide is in full swing and we are looking at something truly historic. New Hampshire will also stay blue. Here is my map.
Obama ends with 338 electoral votes and McCain with 200. With only 270 to win this will be a landslide. This map is a huge win and he could easily win without Pennsylvania. Here is hoping for President elect Obama at about 9 PM tomorrow!! I will leave you with a choked up Obama eulogizing his grandmother Toot: