MoveOn.org moves ground game into eight 2016 election battleground states

Mike Garn’s wife teaches at Baldwin-Wallace College–one of the many colleges and universities that densely dot the area–in Berea, Ohio. He got involved because she and many students were appalled and dumbfounded that Trump was winning Ohio in the latest polls. Although she sat in a coffee shop grading papers while Mike did the leg work, he was happy to do it. Like Rob, he said he would have a problem with himself if he didn’t do everything he could to help Clinton win. When asked about his best experience canvassing, he answered that it was knocking on a door and having the occupant hold her paint-covered hands up to the window. As he explained why he’d interrupted her, she smile widely and gave him the thumbs up.

MoveOn volunteer, Mike Garn,  returns from a door-to-door canvass

MoveOn volunteer, Mike Garn, returns from a door-to-door canvass

There are also disadvantages MoveOn’s strategy, particularly in very segregated areas like Cleveland.

Campaigns, particularly presidential campaigns, tend to target constituent groups as well as neighborhoods. For example, the Clinton campaign is doing relatively well with black voters, but winning the state depends on getting them to actually vote on or before November 8th. Ohio’s Republican-controlled legislature instituted voter ID and early voting restrictions that severely and disproportionately impact black voters according to a seminal study conducted by Dr. Norman Robbins, professor emeritus at Case Western Reserve University and Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates research director in partnership with Dr. Mark Salling of the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University. Although Democrats won a temporary stay for the 2012 general election, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a 6th Circuit Court of Appeals decision last week in favor of voting rights restrictions. That means a substantial voting bloc that would ordinarily help Clinton, particularly in Cuyahoga County where she has to win, is less likely to vote.

MoveOn’s active membership in the Northeast Ohio area is predominantly white. That means the canvassers are white and are canvassing in mostly racially segregated areas. Black voters are not being reached in significant numbers. While MoveOn just hired Rader in late August and there’s only been one weekend of the campaign thus far, the number of blacks involved in Northeast Ohio absolutely must increase if the group has any hope of making a difference for Clinton and Strickland. The Wicked Woman asked why constituencies weren’t being targeted instead of, or in addition to, strictly targeting neighborhoods. Unfortunately, Rader was not in a position to answer because the decision was made at the national level. Several requests were made for a national spokesperson to address this and other lingering questions, but none was forthcoming in a timely manner. Rader did offer that he and MoveOn want to get a more balanced slate of activities on both sides of town and is actively hiring people as field organizers for the east side where most non-whites live. Contact him for information at tristan.rader@moveon.org.

Go to this page for more information about MoveOn’s #UnitedAgainstHate activities in your area.

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