Saturday, October 22, 2016

On the campaign trail in Nevada

Melvin and I just spent several days together knocking on doors in Reno and Sparks, looking for voters supporting Hillary Clinton and Democratic Senate candidate Catherine Cortez-Masto. UniteHERE/Culinary Workers Local 226 has been hard at work here for months; Melvin started right after Labor Day. This is not new for Melvin. His mother brought him along as a teenager on a canvass in 2012. That year, he joined the team for the last three weeks, decided he could do more with his life than join the Marines, and ended up in community college. Now he is a seasoned pro, charming and cajoling voters with gusto.

Nevadans know their votes are important. They've been bombarded by TV ads for months. Their phones ring constantly. One of the inducements we had to offer to people we with talked with was that, if they used the early voting opportunity that begins today, they'll stop hearing from us.

Some unscientific observations:
  • Because Nevadans are so used to this attention from campaigns, and seemingly a little flattered by it, they open their doors more readily than in other places where I've done this work.
  • Because of this willingness, and perhaps also because I've turned into a white-haired old person, voters seemed far less afraid of me when I knock than I've become inured to. Another older woman had the same observation.
  • I encountered a gratifying number of gay households. I don't expect that in a place that feels to me "suburban." Silly me.
  • A small, but significant, number of the voters I encountered had met/seen Cortez-Masto. Las Vegas is the overwhelming center of population in the state, but government is in the north where Reno is the big place, so a woman who has been state attorney general for a decade is a known quantity.
  • Whenever I met someone who was undecided about choice for president, I asked that person to give me a reason they would vote for Trump. Nobody came up with one.
Current polls show Clinton pulling ahead in Nevada and Cortez-Masto pulling into a tiny lead. She's getting the help of the kind of ground get-out-the-vote operation I joined up with all over the state; that can pull a candidate through. Should Cortez-Masto win, she'll be the first Latina elected to the Senate.
I've had fun in the past making sociological observations about the food provided by campaigns. UniteHERE broke the pattern with this breakfast offering, though the inevitable pizza turned up the next day. But no donuts!
Reno is a bearable size small city surrounded by stark desert and mountains. This was the view out my window.

The casinos are as ludicrous as might be expected. But Circus Circus was cheap and efficient. And what's not to like about a hotel that lines its corridors with pictures of staff like this one? It is also the sole union hotel in town.
This local Libertarian gets the prize for the best sign I walked by. Doubt if he'll get many votes, but everyone needs a laugh in this season. Only 17 days to go ...

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