Friday, October 31, 2008
As Citizen Voices Bloggers, we agreed to appear on These Days periodically, as part of the job description. For this week's segment I was "encouraged" to go out into the community (my neighbors, co-workers, etc,) to find out how people were feeling about the presidential race, take an informal poll, and report my findings as part of the Wednesday morning show.
Asking people you know about their political beliefs is kind of like asking them about their sex life. It can feel invasive, and being a private person myself, (at least I was before I got this blogging gig,) and since my neighbors and I have maintained a respectful avoidance of this subject... them with their McCain/Palin signs and me with my Obama/Biden signs, I didn't want to scratch the illusion of tolerance by actually talking to them. So I did the only reasonable thing... I coped out.
In the spirit of non-scientific inquiry, I got in my car and drove as far away from my neighbors as I could, looking for random victims. I sampled opinions at the community gym, (where both TV's are usually tuned to Fox), Farmer's Market, Dog Beach, a hair salon, and a political forum. I sent emails to friends, colleagues, and relatives. Some of my face-to-face contacts at first declined to answer my questions, but when I said "okay", and started to walk away, they usually followed me to tell me what they thought anyway.
The first day of polling was not good news. I encountered a large number of people who had (1) not registered, (2) not paid attention, (3) said they would ask other people or their church how to vote, (4) didn't know anything about the issues. I heard excuses like "I have kids, I have to work, I don't have time to read the paper." Seems like raising kids might be one of the premier reasons to care about who will run this country in the coming years.
October 31, 2008 at 05:49 PM
It was a shame that I was unable to do this segment with you - I myself would have enjoyed the break from 8-hour days with (unanticipated) 2-hour daily commutes! I am grateful that I will be able to do a phone-in piece on Election Day. Nevertheless, I find your commentary very interesting. It is indeed disappointing that a large percentage of people still neglect their civic duty to vote. Related to the Hispanic vendors who may have been hesitant to admit voting for Obama in that particular venue, I have read that some of the supposed "undecideds" may be embarrassed to admit they are voting for McCain to pollsters, in light of Obama's immense popularity. I honestly can't speculate on that; but peer pressure may play a role in either direction as you have hypothesized. I have also read a couple of musings of people who wonder about the "undecideds" - if they haven't been convinced to vote for Obama by now, will they ever? However, Chuck demonstrates that it is indeed possible to be legitimately undecided for a very long time and then end up making that choice. I've talked to a few neighbors but get the general feeling of the neighborhood through bumper stickers and yard signs. It's a fairly conservative area, perhaps due to its proximity to Camp Pendleton. On the other hand, where I work (in San Diego) is strongly Obama, and the people I've talked to are very much decided and opinionated in that direction. It's probably a classic urban vs. suburban difference that is often seen, but interesting regardless. In the suburbs of San Francisco, where I paid a visit recently, I think the difference is less pronounced and that the greater metro area is more generally liberal.
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