Dialing for votes — and sanity — in Colorado

November 5, 2012

With nearly 70 percent of Coloradans having already cast their ballots and the number of undecideds down to decimal points, the last full day of campaigning was like ringing out a dry rag. Campaigns on both sides downloaded the latest lists of not-yet-voteds from the Secretary of State and bombarded a dwindling number of targets.

At a phone bank set up by a conservative advocacy group in the Denver suburbs, volunteers spoke sheepishly, and quickly, after they dialed one of the dozens of cell phones charging in piles around the room.

"Ma'am, I'm a volunteer with Americans for Prosperity, and I know you've already gotten a million calls but I'm calling you just one more time because this election is so critical can we count on you to vote," beseeched Nissa Szabo in a run-on rush. "You already did? That's great."

"After the 9th, 10th, 11th call, I really feel for them," volunteer Antonette Smith said of the beleaguered swing-state voters she's been dialing up all morning. But she keeps calling, spending the last day before the election in this "action center" in a suburban office park as much for her own sanity as to wring out a few more votes from the call lists. The 50-year-old, who was laid off in May from a health care marketing group, says it's too hard to sit at home alone for the final hours.

"I want to be with people. This is very personal for me," Smith said, her eyes filling with tears. "My daughter needs a new pair of jeans."

The Colorado vote has come down to two key blocs, Latinos and suburban women, both of which broke for Sen. Michael Bennett in 2010 and made him a rare Democratic winner in an overwhelmingly Republican year. Democrats are working to repeat that coalition. Republicans hope to peel off the women.

"We have to talk to women about things other than birth control," said Debbie Brown, a Republican strategist who founded the Colorado Women's Alliance in the wake of Bennett's victory. Her group, which emphasizes economic over social conservatism, is helping to staff the phone bank.

Latinos are considered a reliable Democratic bloc, but one that needs a huge get-out-the-vote push. Labor unions and advocacy groups have begun blanketing their neighborhoods with canvassers offering rides to the polls on Tuesday. Women voters, on the other hand, are more of a persuasion challenge, and both sides have been waging door-by-door combat to win females to their side.

"We had people come to the house every weekend for at least the last month," said Christy Boland, a 32-year-old nonprofit staffer who lives in Jefferson County, the epicenter of the contested women's vote. A registered Democrat, she had to assure each canvasser that yes, she had updated her registration (she got married this year) and planned to vote. "Finally told one guy, 'You're better off using your time with someone else'. He said, 'As soon as you vote I'll stop coming'," shesaid.

She voted last Friday, one of 1.7 million Coloradans to cast an early ballot, and this weekend her front porch was quiet for the first time. "Their data is pretty good," Boland said.

Steve Hendrix came to The Post more than ten years ago from the world of magazine freelancing and has written for just about every page of the paper: Travel, Style, the Magazine, Book World, Foreign, National and, most recently, the Metro section’s Enterprise Team.
Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Politics
Next Story
Rachel Weiner · November 5, 2012