Friday, November 14, 2008

Meet Region 4

Here's the roll-call we'd hear every morning of all the field offices in our region.

“Is Taos on the call?” An old Spanish colonial town turned hippy/artist colony, Taos is beautiful, quirky, and smells strongly of patchouli, ganja, and sage. It is known for its killer skiing, infestation of crystal healers, and for lots of mean dogs on its canvass routs.

“Espanola?” The low-rider capitol of the world, Espanola had almost no geo-coded doors (meaning they had to blind-knock most of their turf). Due to it's mixed, but largely Hispanic population, Espanola was seen as representative of much of Northern New Mexico, and earned visits from both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton – not bad for a town of fewer than 10,000.

“Los Alamos?” A company-town created to house the scientists working on the Manhattan Project, Atomic City, as it's affectionately called, was famous for its nerds. Thanks to its nerd power, Los Alamos was the only field office to have a flawless performance entering data during the election day 'dry runs'. Predominantly republican, Los Alamos County went blue for the first time in like forty years!

“Las Vegas?” Not the Vegas you’re used to, this Las Vegas has a very uncharacteristic classical Victorian feel to it, instead of the pueblo-style architecture found throughout most of northern New Mexico. After the railroad arrived, Las Vegas became one of the biggest, baddest boom-towns in the wild-wild-west. While no longer attracting outlaws like Billy the Kid or Jesse James, Vegas did manage to attract Michelle Obama the week before the election (who in turn drew over a third of Las Vegas' population to her rally).

“Raton?” Right on the Colorado border, Raton is a strange fuckin’ place. It’s way up in the mountains, and I would recommend avoiding the tamales sold at Raton gas stations at all costs. You WILL get food poisoning.

“Chama?” A teeny-tiny little town also far to the north. The turf up there is so rural it’s basically not canvassable, so in Chama they focused all their energy on phone banking. The organizer Renee built such an army of dedicated phone bankers that over 1% of the town was routinely in the office making phone calls. Chama would usually account for something ridiculous like 70% of the region’s phone calls. At one point, our region was tasked with calling up every Vote-By-Mail recipient in the entire state; that list was given to Chama, and they completed the list within two days. There was some disagreement out of state headquarters about whether or not an office up there would even be worth it – those opposed to the Chama office had to eat their words big time.

“St. Mikes?” The northern half of the city of Santa Fe. St. Mikes was almost identical to our office in terms of number of targets (targeted voters were ones we thought were likely to support Barack Obama, but not necessarily likely to vote -- we devoted most of our efforts towards turning out our targets). Also, since our turfs were basically two halves of the same city, we were competing over the same resources, namely volunteers. Since the goals for both of our offices were usually absurdly high, each office guarded their volunteers fiercely. Most of the time, the competition between our office and St. Mikes was healthy and productive, and drove both of us to achieve phenomenal results. Occasionally, the competition between our office and St. Mikes would descend into the pettiest squabbling you’ve ever seen. E.g. “Dorthy McGuire has been coming into our office for weeks and now she’s scheduled to canvass out of St. Mikes this Saturday? What the fuck!? THOSE FUCKERS! THIS MEANS WAR!!!

“Zafarano?” Undeniably the best office in the region/state/country, and not simply because I worked there (although that didn't hurt). Zafarano was in charge of organizing the southern half of the city of Santa Fe, as well as the entire southern half of Santa Fe County, which stretches almost all the way to Albuquerque. Our turf was huge, largely rural (and therefore more difficult to canvass), and very important; in terms of number of targets, ours had the second most in the whole state--only south-central Albuquerque had more. The energy in the Zafarano office was remarkably positive, and dangerously contagious. By many metrics, ours was the highest performing office in the state. We rocked the party that rocked the party.

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