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Phone Banking Pennsylvania: It’s Still the Economy

Tales from a Red County in a Swing State

It’s not scientific and the sample size is small, but here is some raw data from my phone banking efforts on 9/8 and 9/15:

64 phone calls (32 each week) to likely voters, not all were Republicans.
9 McCain supporters (3 last week/6 yesterday)
8 Undecided (5 last week/3 yesterday)
1 Obama supporter (last week)
2 refused to respond
44 answering machines, messages, wrong numbers, etc.

Points of interest:
1. Given four choices (the economy and jobs, gas prices, national security, health care) 7 of the 8 “undecideds,” without hesitation, cited the economy and jobs as their top area of concern this election. Although, the economy is usually the number one issue in an election, I was surprised to find that the choice was nearly unanimous.
2. Of the 9 McCain supporters, 5 felt that all four issue choices were equally important and had to be pressed to pick one.
3. Last week, when the phone bank script introduction used the words, “calling on behalf of the local Republican Party,” 7 respondents initially pointed out that they are not Republicans. This week, the script was changed to “calling on behalf of the local McCain-Palin campaign,” and no one balked.

The county:
My phone bank was in a county in Pennsylvania where President Bush won every precinct except one in 2004. The local economy is a mixture of farming, manufacturing, and in one community, tourism. There is also a large and growing population of commuters to the three metropolitan areas within 75 miles. The population is 90 percent white. The county unemployment rate was 3.3% in 2007. The county foreclosure rate is 0.02%, but I could not find a national average for comparison.

My conclusion:
To win the votes of the remaining undecided electorate, we need to present a strong pro-McCain message on the economy. The grassroots Get-Out-The-Vote efforts in counties like mine will be crucial in canceling out the work of the Phiadelphia/Pittsburgh Democratic party machines.

I’ll be working the phone bank every Monday until Election Day, and will report back on any significant findings.

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