Underneath one of many posters reading “African-Americans for Obama” behind a busy strip-mall storefront, a woman in a very fetching hat hangs up a telephone. How is she doing? “Oh, honey,” she says. “You’ll have to ask me that on Nov. 7.”
Here, in a corner of Los Angeles where liquor stores and bail-bond shops fight for space, the Obama army works the phones with military rigour. This is, famously, a “get out the vote” election, and his troops – on this day, a dozen African-American women in their middle years – are on a mission.
But the interesting thing is that they’re not getting out the vote in their neighbourhood, which was so badly damaged in the riots of 1992. They’re not reading from the Obama songsheet to the voters of California, where the 55 Electoral College votes are safely in the pockets of Democrats. No, these women are on the phone to the last-minute fence-sitters in the battleground states of Ohio, Nevada, Colorado and Pennsylvania. The office made 10,705 calls in the space of two days last weekend.
On the wall of their campaign office is the message that they will convey to undecided voters: “The President is building an economy where hard work pays, responsibility is rewarded, everyone does their fair share and plays by the same rules.” How’s the battle going? You’ll have to ask them on Nov. 7.
California is the Barbra Streisand of states, it’s so safely Democratic. You only have to look at the graffiti on the wall of the Viper Room on Sunset Boulevard in nearby Hollywood, where a Democratic donkey is taking forceful intimate advantage of a Republican elephant. George H.W. Bush was the last Republican presidential candidate to carry the state, in 1988.
Which is why Democratic California campaigners such as Desi Green find themselves out of state on the weekend, knocking on doors. Every Friday for the past few weeks Ms. Green, 32, a Los Angeles lawyer, has flown to Las Vegas to try to convince Nevada voters that the President holds the key to the country’s future. During the week, she’s in the Democratic call centre in Culver City, in the south of the city. The man next to her volunteered because he’s worried he won’t be able to afford his prescriptions without Mr. Obama’s health-care reforms.
Ms. Green did not campaign for Mr. Obama four years ago. This time, she felt that as an African-American woman and an attorney, she couldn’t stand aside.
“The issues are so crucial this time,” she says, noting that the next president will likely appoint two justices to the Supreme Court. “Roe v. Wade [the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down state restrictions on abortion] has a possibility of being overturned depending on who’s seated.”
Does she sense enthusiasm for the President in the swing states? Ms. Green says, “I do hear people say, ‘Things aren’t where they should be.’ But I remind them that it’s hard to undo the work of the previous eight years. Then I try to get them fired up about where the President can take us in the future.”
Comparing field offices in top three swing states
Democrats 104, Republicans 47
Democrats 131, Republicans 40
Democrats 61, Republicans 30