“‘Go Blue’ has a double meaning,” said U.S. Sen. Carl Levin (D–Mich.), Saturday morning at the Democratic campaign office in Ann Arbor, emphasizing the importance of capturing Michigan’s 16 electoral votes for President Barack Obama.
Despite recent polls showing Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in a neck and neck battle for the state, Democratic volunteers seemed confident and excited as they prepared for their final “Get Out the Vote” efforts. Levin, along with U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D–Mich.), Obama campaign advisers, University alum Broderick Johnson and Cato June, former Michigan and Indianapolis Colts football player, were among volunteers firing up voters.
All four men touched on the state’s importance in the election, sharing their common confidence that ultimately Obama will win the state, as he did in 2008.
Johnson said the Obama campaign is not especially concerned with narrowing the Michigan poll results, noting that it’s part of an inevitable trend across the country to see the race getting more competitive in the final days.
However, despite the general air of confidence, Debbie Dingell, John Dingell’s wife and a Democratic activist, and Levin emphasized that every vote matters.
Levin recalled volunteering after graduating from law school for John Kennedy’s 1960 campaign by driving veterans to polling places, sometimes spending hours driving one voter.
“(I thought) what am I doing — four hours, one vote? That night, Kennedy won by one vote per precinct — my veteran.” Levin said.
All were in agreement that the way to garner support was through continuing to pursue a vigorous ground campaign, which entails canvassing and making phone calls. In a press release, the Obama campaign said it has created the largest grassroots effort in Michigan history.
Johnson said while the campaign has the resources to put money toward television ads, which remains a key strategy of winning support in many states, community organization is still a crucial weapon.
In June’s opinion, a similar grassroots effort is what put Obama in the White House in 2008. He emphasized the importance of young people turning up to the polls, since there is a waning interest in politics within today’s generation.
“People that are doing all the grassroots level work are the people that are really going to make the difference in the election because we saw last time around that when people actually got out and voted, wow people (were) taken back … the voice of America (was) actually being heard,” June said. “Now we have to continue with that same energy, with that same passion.”
Field organizers and volunteers initially focused on registering people to vote. However, at this point in the race, their efforts through “Get Out the Vote” have been more focused on encouraging registered voters to turn up at the polls, regardless of their political affiliation. Johnson said early voting is something the campaign is continually encouraging.
“We’ve been working really hard for early vote and absentee balloting is important — we think that gives us an advantage in a number of states … Election Day is no longer just a day, that’s for sure.” Johnson said.
Dingell’s confidence that the Obama campaign will take Michigan stems from his belief that come Election Day, voters will be able to see the differences between the two candidates.
“I have never seen, in my long political career, such desperate abandonment of the truth or resort to falsehood as I have seen on the part of the Romney-Ryan Republican campaign,” Dingell said. “I have never heard folks stray so far from the truth … the Romney campaign seems to take its foot out of its mouth only to change feet.”
Dingell said General Motors and Chrysler denial of Romney’s recent claim — that their companies are sending jobs to China — marks the first time that they have openly criticized a Republican politician, a turning point which he said emphasizes the misconception characterizing the campaign.
With a select few states ultimately deciding the election, Johnson admitted that winning Ohio was so important that he was going to temporarily change out of the Michigan apparel he was proudly sporting when he traveled to the Buckeye state that afternoon.