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August 05, 2006

Doorbelling for Darcy

I gathered three friends together and went doorbelling for Darcy last Sunday.  I had a lot of varied responses to the experience.  I enjoyed talking to strangers and figuring out how to size up what would be most useful to say to this particular person.  And people were unfailingly civil and often friendly, no matter what their response to my intrusion into their Sunday afternoon.  Much as I had heard otherwise, the campaign was not wildly organized.  The voterlists were terrible, i.e. we found addresses of people where there was not a house and no chance a house had ever been there.  Other people had moved away years ago.  These are what I've come to see are the usual difficulties with the Democratic lists. 

Most amazing to me, not a single person I talked with had heard of Darcy.  That alone told me how important the doorbelling is.

"It's good to be away from the bubble, isn't it?"  Zach Silk, Darcy's campaign manager, said when I bumped into him at a NARAL breakfast mid-week.   And indeed is was.  We were in a working class neighborhood in Renton, which is considered sort of middle ground in the campaign.  The Bellevue, Kirkland, Mercer Island voters are likely to go for Darcy and their goal there is to get as many voters out as possible.  The Auburn, Enumclaw, Sumner areas tend to go Republican and the Burner campaign has poured a lot of resources in there to talk with voters about Darcy.  Their goal is to get a higher percentage of people voting for her there than Dave Ross received in 2004.   

Even though no one had heard of Darcy, about half the folks definitely did not want Reichert re-elected.  Our job there was to familiarize folks with Darcy and her background and urge them to vote and to talk with their friends.   With the ones who were clearly Republican, it was possible that our enthusiasm for Darcy would at least open a possibility for them.  And there were many who seemed not to be interested in politics at all. 

My fellow doorbellers were pretty trusting of me.  They had heard me talk about Darcy and this race once before agreeing to come doorbell.  I sent them some posts from Evergreen Politics to read ahead of time.  The campaign folks gave them a packet of information on Darcy and on her stands on the critical issues and how they differed from Reichert's stands.  When they asked for more, I gave them the briefest of pep-talks about Darcy before we headed out.  I told them that I believe that Darcy is a "transformational" candidate, one of those people like Ned Lamont, Jon Tester, and Jim Webb, netroots-supported candidates on the national scene.  These are people who will move a progressive agenda forward, are not likely to get caught up in the corporate back-scratching, and will lead on the major issues of our day.  As our elected officials are faces with dealing with the mess that the current administration has created, these are the folks we will need in the lead. 

Then I told two stories about Darcy that I think go a long ways to clarifying who Darcy is.  Darcy has made a pledge to list on her website all meetings that she or her staff have with lobbyists.  That is huge and the first time I've heard of anyone making that promise. The second occurred in Darcy's childhood.  She tells the story of how she begged for a computer when she was a youngster.  Her parents were pretty poor but relented and got a basic computer for her at Christmas when she was 12.  But they couldn't afford any software.  So Darcy wrote the programs she needed to use the computer!  That pledge and that story seem to deepen people's awareness of why we want Darcy to be the next Congresscritter in the 8th in place of a Bush clone like Reichert.

After a couple of hours of walking, my partner and I talked with our other two friends who were walking a different precinct.  They were headed back to the park we'd met at and that meant we needed to get back there as well - what with the carpooling we'd done and all.  It turns out that one of the other pair had decided this walking was not worth her time given the manner in which we were asked to work.  She was willing to take on more clients and give more money but not to walk again.  She had done a lot of doorbelling in previous years when she lived in Montana.  At that time they just walked in pairs, one on each side of the street, talking to anyone who was home in every single house.    It did not make sense to her to have this list of folks to talk with which meant we would maybe have four people to talk with on a block out of ten houses.  And then of course the lists were relatively inaccurate on top of it.  We had a cup of coffee and split some sandwiches afterwards at the nearest coffee shop and talked a bit about it.  The organizers had told my friends that the lists we had were focused on those folks who were most likely to vote.  And, I said I expected they may have gone through once before so some folks had already been contacted. 

But my friend's disappointment stuck with me and I've thought about it on and off all week.  The conclusion I've come to is that the Democratic Party voterlists were allowed to deteriorate over decades and building them up again so they are accurate and useful will take some time.  It is also absolutely critical.  If we had the money that the Republicans have, we'd pay college-aged students to walk around and update the lists.  But we don't so it's up to us to upgrade the lists as we get back into the habit of talking to our neighbors again.  So, I've decided I will assist in this chore on a regular basis.  I've signed up to run for PCO in my own precinct in Seattle.  I've already walked my neighborhood and the lists are bad here too and most people have not been contacted in ages.  I decided that I will be a part of this most basic activity that all of the rest of what we do is built on.  For now I'm going to go to the 8th and work on those voterlists while I talk to people about Darcy.  I'll work on my own precinct later.

The Burner campaign needs people out doorbelling.  Sign up and bring a friend.  It makes a world of difference just having someone else across the street whom you can talk with occasionally and trade stories with. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on August 5, 2006 at 09:38 AM in Candidate Races, Taking Action | Permalink


Doesn't the fact that your voter list has names at places where there is no dwelling pretty much indicate some vote fraud going on here? Especially when you say it's a list of people most likely to vote? Why don't you turn that info in to King County Elections so they can remove the fraudulent information, if you really care about accuracy?

Posted by: Dweeb | Aug 5, 2006 2:00:33 PM

Lynn, that was a terrific post and wonderful description of your doorbelling experience and the troubles related to working with an up to date list in such a large district. Thank you for taking the time to write about it. Hopefully the campaign will read it and take the issues your bring up to heart and work on solutions. Time is short and getting Darcy's message out to voters is so important.

Posted by: Daniel K | Aug 5, 2006 2:24:24 PM


Couple of clarifications on the walk lists for you, at least as they are used and maintained by the Dems. Generally, the walking lists are pulled from a data base that is maintained by the state party. The information is culled from several different sources, including county election records and data from campaigns.

It doesn't really matter whether or not Lynne and Co. wanted to provide corrected information or not. The relationship between the various election offices and the parties as far as this kind of data goes is not two way. It is up to individual voters to provide correct address information to their county election officials. The officials then make the data available to parties et.al.

Even with all that, there's as a good chance that the bad data could be a result of some mistake in the party's process as there is that some sort of fraud is going on.

Posted by: Laura | Aug 5, 2006 6:13:41 PM

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