We've been in Iowa since December 31st, and the whole caucus scene is absolutely amazing!
My daughter and I arrived on New Year's Eve after flying into Chicago, renting a car, and driving on very slick, snowy roads to Davenport, Iowa. The 2 1/2 hour trip in good weather took 4 hours and 20 minutes. My hands and arms were sore Wednesday morning – probably from the death grip I kept on the steering wheel for hours.
On January 1, we started off the New Year right – working to make John Edwards the next president!
On Wednesday, we arrived at Edwards HQ just after lunch expecting to be sent out door-to-door. We weren't really excited at the prospect since the high temperature was supposed to be 7 degrees with a brisk wind.
Instead, they asked us to make phone calls. I got the unenvieable task of calling undecided voters on New Year's Day when they were trying to watch football and not wanting to be bothered. Sarah called Edwards supporters to remind them of the caucus date.
As if anyone still alive could forget it!
I had a slight tussle with the person in charge of calling because she wanted us all to read from this prepared script. Now, nothing irritates me more at home than someone calling to read this canned script. So, being a person who doesn't take direction well, I improvised some.
One woman told me that her big issue is retirement health care, so I asked if she was retired and she said no, but she was about to get state retirement. So I told her I understood her concern because my mother was a retired teacher and worried that the state is going to cut her retirement benefits. We talked a bit about how important it is for regular, moderate and low income people to have a secure retirement & then hung up. And I looked up to find Jill holding the script and asking me to please stick with the facts and figures in the script.
She's from New Jersey, so maybe it's just a different communication style, but I just don't think people want to hear nothing but statistics.
In the meantime, Sarah was able to complete over 100 calls to supporters! Not bad for a 13 yr old.
Yesterday was MUCH better. We went out in the morning and canvassed in Bettendorf (a bit north of Davenport). Since we had room in the car, we took 2 high school students from Youngstown, Ohio with us and we hit 29 homes. It was still COLD! There was a wind chill warning because the temp was about 9 with a 20 mph wind. But the people were so much nicer in person than on the phone. Everyone home invited us in their house to warm up, listened to us, and were very friendly.
One woman offered us hot chocolate, use of her bathroom, and, after finding out we're from Alabama and paying for a B&B, asked if we wanted to move our stuff to her house and stay for free. We thanked her profusely, but said no.
We stopped for lunch, then took our packets back to HQ and got another one – this one with 39 houses. Sarah and I did them yesterday afternoon. It didn't take nearly as long as the morning because only about 20% of the people were actually home.
We were at it again today – again in Bettendorf – and hey, it's warmer! The temperature when we knocked off for lunch (Panera Bread for the free wifi) was up to 20 degrees! Hey, who needs a coat?
We're about to head back to HQ for more work and to find out who we're supposed to drive to the caucus tonight. We'll get to watch, but not participate and it should be exciting.
I wish I had some sort of feel for how it looks for John, but I just can't tell. There are a lot of yard signs for all the candidates: Obama, Edwards, Clinton, Romney in particular.
One thing that's really interesting is that you'll often see a house with Obama and Edwards or Edwards and Biden, or any combination. But if there's a Clinton sign, there are no other candidate signs. I have no idea what that means – if anything – but it's an interesting data point.
Also, I can tell you from our phone calling and door-to-door, that I have only come across one voter who has Clinton as a 2nd choice. The vast majority in my small sample (about 50 calls and 75 houses) have Edwards as 2nd choice with Obama far behind. The Richardson & Biden people also seem to be breaking for Edwards for 2nd place.
Everyone stay warm in Alabama and wish us luck!