Friday, May 06, 2011

Some Local Campaign 2011 Musings.

Yesterday around noon I dropped off my last load of lawn signs officially ending, for myself at least, the 2011 election campaign. During the past 40 days I have run the gamut of emotions from depressing lows to exhilarating highs, with the added bonus of running myself to near exhaustion at times in the process, and now that I have some free time I thought I would put together a post on some of my election 2011 thoughts and experiences from the local level. From the time the writ was dropped until the last sign was removed, it was 40 days that I will not soon forget.

 The early days consisted mostly of helping to get the local campaign office up and running, which in our case consisted of turning a rather large empty space into the hub of the local campaign, and getting the signs out. Desks and furniture had to be brought in, temporary walls/dividers had to be fashioned, equipment such as computers, phones, copiers, shredders and even TVs had to be located brought in and hooked up, and the volunteers organized. Aside from some early grunt work of hauling things around and some minor 'construction' work, the set up of the office was capably handled by many others; I worked more on getting the signs out.

When the writ was dropped on the last weekend of March there was 3 feet of snow in my yard, there were huge windrows along every road, and the ground frozen solid, not the best situation to be putting out election signs. The signs were being stored in a shed on a rural property in the riding and a Bobcat had to be used to clear a path through the snow just to get access. But we got them out and we got them up. Within 2 days all major and minor intersections in the riding had signs placed in all directions, but because the ground was still frozen they had to be placed in the deep snow and within a couple of weeks every single sign had to be re-visited and put solidly into the ground.

More on signs: There were plenty of stories during the campaign on sign vandalism etc and while there were some places more effected than others, I think it is fair to say that EVERY candidate had to face some type of sign vandalism.  If you have ever dealt with signs in a campaign you can sort of tell who is going after your signage and why; when you see a bunch of signs knocked over or pulled out ( including those from your opponent) it is a good guess that it is just kids who did so as they walked by. It is when only your teams signs that get hit while the oppositions remain standing, or when your signs have be damaged or made non reusable ( no details but sign people know what I am talking about) that the political motive questions start being asked. Why people do it is beyond me, it is just stupid not mention illegal, but no matter the reasons when they knock 'em down, someone has to go out there and stand 'em back up.  BTW there were more than a few times that I stood up NDP signs that were knocked down along side our own ( You're welcome Nadine).

Blogging: One of the regrets that I do have was not doing enough blogging during the campaign. You would think that blogging would be a no brainer as it is a political bloggers 'busy season', but the time and my energy level were just not there. I have to look at my drafts but I can wager that I have at least 10 blog entries sitting there in various stages of completion that I started but did not finish/publish for various reasons. I had a great series that I had planned on Ignatieff, aka Mr. Democracy, for the final week of the campaign but to be honest I felt that it was a waste of time and towards the end I started feeling sorry for the guy and didn't want to pile on. On the positive side I did follow closely much of the wonderful work my fellow Blogging Tories did during the campaign and when I had the time I did quite a bit of Tweeting (a quick tweet is much faster than writing a blog post).  Also my long running issue with Scott Reid and the CBC was finally resolved thanks to the Ombudsman, but even there what should have been a few days worth of good material only made it into a single blog post.

Door-Knocking: While I did quite a few other things during the course of the campaign, it was door-knocking that took up the most of my time and provided some of the most enjoyable moments along with some of the most depressing moments of the 2011 campaign. It is my favorite election activity as I enjoy going out and knocking on doors meeting people face to face getting instant feedback, and one of the more memorable trips occurred in the middle of a spring snow storm when I met up in Millwoods with the candidate and blogged about here. The trips into Edmonton-Strathcona though were memorable for much different reasons. The first trips I made into E-S were great; lots of positive feedback and when we left there were as many Hastman lawn signs out as there were Duncan signs. But those first trips were in polls on the edge of the riding and as we got closer to the University area things became much different. Most of people I met at the door were polite enough, although having a door slammed in your face even just once tends to make for a bad day, but it was clear that most of those met were Duncan supporters and in these polls the Duncan signs were everywhere. On one particular street there were 15 homes, 9 of which had Linda Duncan signs on the lawn, and this was not an anomaly as it was near impossible to go to more than 5-6 homes anywhere in these polls and not encounter an Orange NDP sign. Needless to say that after a couple of days of that sort of thing that ones confidence goes down somewhat and you become unsure if you are having any impact at all.

Election night: When it was all over and the votes counted we had won in Edmonton Millwoods Beaumont, lost in Edmonton Strathcona, consumed an over abundance of chicken wings, and for the first time ever the CPC had enough seats to form a majority government, but all I could really think about was that we didn't have to do this again for another 4 1/2 years and that in 2015 my daughter will be eligible to vote for the very first time.

It was over but for the clean up, which would begin bright and early Tuesday morning.

The campaign started when the government fell on March 25 on a Liberal motion of non confidence ( Insert joke of your choice here) the political situation for the Conservatives was not great, the weather was cold and miserable, and there was still 3 ft of snow on my front lawn. 40 days later and we now have a majority government, the sun is shining, the snow gone, my grass is starting to turn green and flowers are starting to come up.

It was worth all of the work.


Joanne (True Blue) said...

Awww... That was great Ardvark! I really love these first-hand stories.

And I hear you about the vandalized signs and the snark at some doors.

But I'm sure you experienced the same highs that I did when you found someone who wasn't a previous supporter and now not only wanted to vote Tory but would take a lawn sign too! I almost wanted to give those people a hug.

Yes it was all worth it. Every step. Thanks for what you did.

maryT said...

Congratulations on a job well done.
Just wondering, is Kady still live blogging, haven't heard of her for the whole election.
Watched cpac tonight, and some gal named Louise made the stmt that the PM should stick to his knitting and do as he said he would.
Didn't some MP get in real trouble with the media for saying that about someone a few years back.

Daniel said...

I was actually a volunteer on Duncan's campaign team and I agree with your comment about sign vandalism. While being a runner on E-day I had a quick chat with one of Hastman's poll captains to let her know someone had absolutely decimated one of his signs across the street on 109th. She made the good point that it's almost counter-intuitive if the intention is to help said candidate's opponent. After all, when most people see such things it usually evokes sympathy more than anything other emotion. From what I read in the papers they caught two of the morons doing some of the trashing of his signs, so at least that's something.

Likewise, I know what you're talking about when noting the psychological effect seeing an excess of an opponent's signs on multiple lawns does to volunteers. We had more than a few cases where we'd be canvassing in different polls, with strong tory support, where we'd come across streets with no fewer than 10 or 12 Hastman signs in a row and it definitely tends to drain your enthusiasm pretty fast. One specific night was a couple weeks before E-day and it had started to snow just a little after 8. I had intended to be out until 9 but decided to just say screw it given the lack of support in the area. While understandable, in ridings where close races are occuring, it just goes to show you how important active support is. I'd akin it to a hockey team having to play in their opponent's arena where the majority of the audience isn't cheering for them.

As far as getting doors slammed in the face goes, while I agree it is demoralizing, I'm personally more fearful of door knocking on the doors of people who aren't supporters but want to rant at you regardless, lol. I wasn't there but heard one story where a guy not only slammed the door on two of our canvassers, but then decided to come back out and follow them down the street so he could rant and yell at them (despite the fact that our volunteers hadn't actually done anything else than introduce themselves). I also talked to a few Hastman volunteers who said they ran into a couple people erecting a large Duncan sign who decided to start yelling at them and Hastman after Hastman had asked how they were doing while passing by, so it just goes to show you there are extremists on both sides.

Anyways, congrats on the majority win.

Ardvark said...