To be fair, on a Sunday you’re probably just going to run into a lot of hungover Buckeye fans who could care less about voting. Although if Grandma thinks she’s going to be getting a lot of support from college students, she may want to rethink this strategy.
Being a field organizer for Hillary Clinton at The Ohio State University means being rejected a lot.
Tyler Hoisington, 24, is one of four full-time, paid staffers focused on registering new voters on the campus of this battleground state’s flagship university, which has 65,000 students. Over more than two hours yesterday, he knocked on every door on both sides of four city blocks, including a few multi-level apartment buildings. Despite his best efforts, he could not get a single person to either register to vote or sign a card committing to support the Democratic nominee for president.
It was a stark illustration of apathy and ambivalence five weeks before Election Day. Millennial voters, who were so instrumental in Barack Obama’s victories, are lukewarm at best about Clinton, even four months after she vanquished Bernie Sanders.
Obama held his first rally of the 2012 reelection campaign here on the campus of OSU, drawing a crowd of 10,000 – mostly students. That thrill is gone.
Two African American females were smoking cigarettes on their front porch when Hoisington asked if they were registered. “I keep that kind of thing to myself,” she said coldly, turning away to continue her conversation.
Two guys down the street answered and said they are excited to vote – for Libertarian Gary Johnson.
An African American upperclassman came to his front door bleary-eyed and shirtless. He said he was not registered. Hoisington encouraged him to sign up, explaining that it would take just one minute to fill out the form on his clipboard. “Nah, man, I’ll pass,” he said. The organizer pressed: “Are you sure? It’s really important.” The potential voter paused for a moment, as if about to relent. “Yeah, man,” he said. “I’m sure.”
“That doesn’t happen too often,” Hoisington said after the door closed. “Most people just lie and say they’re already registered.”
The onetime high school wrestler, who has grown out his hair, stepped over broken bottles and maneuvered around beer pong tables outside grungy off-campus row houses. Four fraternity brothers walked by on the street. One carried a 12 pack of beer. Another held a can of Natural Light. Hoisington introduced himself. “I’m all in for Donald Trump, man,” one of the young men said before belching. The organizer shrugged it off and kept walking.
And so it went. This is the unglamorous drudgery of field work, but it is also the way to win. The fight to re-activate the Obama coalition is playing out not just in rallies and with television ads but in door-to-door conversations like these.
Clinton’s campaign has more than 300 paid staffers in this state alone, fanned across 57 offices, vastly more than Trump’s campaign, which will not even reveal its number.
“Striking out,” Hoisington said, as he slogged from one street to the next. “This is the slowest start I’ve had.”
A country of 320 million people and these two are the best we can do?