The operation has reached even the furthest communities, with help from the Alaska Federation of Natives who endorsed Begich’s campaign last week. These final few days will see one last push for the Begich campaign to connect with as many voters as possible via 128 new voting sites and a presence in 53 communities.
This weekend, Begich hosted rallies to get out the vote in Wasilla, the former stomping ground of Sarah Palin, and Anchorage as well as sharing hot chocolate with students at the University of Alaska Fairbanks on Monday— all while thousands of volunteers don heavy jackets to get out the vote.
In the remote town of Seward, the ground operation was doing just that. The Begich outpost is manned by a handful of people, including 17-year-old Griffin Plush, who is too young to vote but helps prepare the paperwork for those going out door knocking.
Those on the ground are using piles of paper to track responses — iPads are no use here, the rain and cold makes touchscreens tricky to use. Last week, volunteers knocked on 2,000 doors in the Kenai Peninsula. On shifts of three to four hours, a team can speak to 30-40 households.
Meaghan Cavanaugh, a 24-year-old regional field director for the Begich campaign, trudged up Resurrection Boulevard in Seward —a dirt track in fact — to convince undecided voters and ensure the Begich supporters vote in the final few days. She finds early evenings to be the most effective, catching residents as they prepare for dinner.
The issues Cavanaugh is confronted with include Obamacare, which she says Begich will work to improve; Harry Reid; the overall direction of the Senate as well as local issues: unions, energy and fishing policy — one of the key industries in the area.
Juan Baquera, a 37-year-old cook, is one of the undecided voters who answers the door. He first of all thinks Cavanaugh is undertaking a census and admits, “I’m not into the politics thing too much,” but is happy to listen. “If you can tell me about somebody, I guess. I usually vote Democratic,” he says.
She outlines some of the differences between Begich and Sullivan, noting Begich's experience in the state legislature and his opposition to the Pebble Mine, which will affect the salmon population in Bristol Bay.
“Electricity here in Seward is expensive,” says Baquera. “I dunno where he stands on renewable energy?”
“He is incredibly supportive of renewable energy,” replies Cavanaugh, noting Sen. Begich’s support for the Fire Island Wind project in Anchorage. Baquera nods approvingly.
After five minutes of chatting, Baquera asks for a leaflet and heads back inside. He is marked down as a potential Begich voter, and may receive one more knock before Election Day.
His opponent Dan Sullivan remains coy about whether his ground operation can match up to Team Begich. He says his opponent has been “talking a big game on his record” but believes it is "not an impressive record."
“Who knows? Maybe their big game on their ground game is really impressive or maybe it's kind of like his record of getting bills passed,” Sullivan said in an interview. “I dunno, we'll see on November 4."
Before election day, Sullivan is receiving visits from two Republican heavyweights: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. On Saturday and Sunday, Cruz hosted get-out-the-vote rallies in Fairbanks and Soldotna, while Romney will address a crowd on Monday morning at an aircraft hanger in Anchorage.
Despite the ambition of the Begich ground game, some Sullivan volunteers believe their operation is one of the best the Alaskan Republican Party has ever done.
“It’s really been a nice coordinated team effort, I don’t think Republicans have always done that,” says Judy Elledge, a 68-year-old retired school principal volunteering on the Sullivan campaign. “I have been involved as an office manager for McCain-Palin but I have never seen such organization in campaigns before.”
Elledge also notes that it was “great” that the Republican National Committee provided assistance to the Sullivan campaign early on. “It’s been one of my frustrations that we haven’t had the help, but boy we’ve had it this year,” she says.