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Democrats’ strategy relies on grassroots campaign

A senior citizen holds a sign as she listens to Barack Obama speak during a campaign rally in Delray, Florida, October 23, 2012.

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Amid the TV ads, debates, pundits and phone banks, there's Mary Ann Coyle's garage.

The narrow space in the 86-year-old retiree's suburban Denver home has been overtaken by the Barack Obama team. Leaflets line the tables, door-knocking schedules cover the walls. And as Americans head to the polls Tuesday, all that's left is for campaigns to mobilize and get out the vote – particularly in swing states, such as here in Colorado.

Republican Mitt Romney's campaign relied on phone banks across the state and a mid-day visit from vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan for final events Monday. But Mr. Obama's team has taken up a different strategy – they've set up in people's homes, hoping a neighbourly familiarity will win favour in this toss-up state. That meant asking Ms. Coyle, a retired teacher, for her garage. The long-time Democrat agreed, and now volunteers are coming and going from 9:30 in the morning until 10:30 at night.

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"It's a lot of hustle and bustle, but it's great," she said Monday evening, adding with a smile: "Another feature was – when they said they wanted to use it, they said they'd clean it."

The strategy to "methodically assemble" a grassroots base is four years in the making, said Kim Parker, a spokeswoman for the Obama campaign in Colorado. "We all know this is going to be a close election, and our grassroots campaign is going to make the difference," she said.

But Democrats are not the only ones who are confident. About a half-hour away, in a low-rise brick office building, the Republicans' Colorado office (the "Victory Center") was buzzing Monday. About a dozen volunteers worked phones.

The youngest were Molly and Maggie Tynan, ages 16 and 13. The home-schooled sisters have been paying weekly visits here, reading scripts to voters over the phone.

"We both believe Mitt Romney is the best candidate for our president and we realize this election is definitely a turning point in our nation's future," Molly said. The calls range from the economy to abortion, the latter of which 13-year-old Maggie handles. Only five people have hung up on her since they began volunteering in August, she said.

Republican volunteer Pauline Olvera, 46, has been leaning on Mr. Romney's business experience in pitches to voters, saying the economy is a top issue to many of her fellow Hispanic Colorado residents, while saying Mr. Obama fell flat on promises of jobs and immigration reform.

"I think that resonates with my community," she said.

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On Tuesday, she'll be at the office, coordinating vote watchers, walking teams and help give voters rides. She thinks the Republicans will win the state.

"My main focus is getting those very last few Republicans out to cast their vote, and getting some of those independents to come on board with the Mitt Romney plan," she says, adding: "I am extremely exhausted. I'm very much looking forward to Wednesday, and vacation."

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Josh is a parliamentary reporter in Ottawa. Before moving to the nation's capital in 2013, he covered provincial affairs in Edmonton and throughout Alberta. He joined the Globe in 2008 in Toronto before returning to his home province in 2010. More

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