Though the upcoming presidential election may be tight, at least one thing is certain: John McCain has zero chance of winning Massachusetts. But his loyal team of conservative backers in the Bay State can still support their candidate . . . by annoying our neighbors to the north.
The McCain team opened phone-bank operations here in Boston on July 14, but has largely focused on New Hampshire, where the race is still within single digits. Volunteers are conducting a combination of marketing and polling. (The results are less reliable than national polls conducted by expensive marketing firms, but hey — they’re volunteers, so it’s practically free!) Callers ask voters who they support in the presidential campaign and in New Hampshire’s Senate race, and how strongly they support them. The campaign then compiles and compares the data against news developments or local appearances.
The work also gets people involved and, theoretically, excited about the campaign.
“Mostly I’ve been getting voicemails,” says Larry Roccanti, a McCain volunteer from Boston, “but the people I get on the phone, if they give us a chance to explain, they’re happy to talk to us.”
That the campaign’s Boston operation is focused mainly on New Hampshire is a sober realization of the ant-vs.-shoe odds McCain faces in New England. A Rasmussen poll from June 30 gave Obama a 53-33 edge in the Commonwealth. In Connecticut, the junior senator’s lead hovers around 20, as well. In Rhode Island, polls have consistently shown Obama with leads of 20-plus points.
New Hampshire should be closer. It’s also where McCain’s town-hall meetings revived a blundering primary campaign and delivered him the state over rivals Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney. A new July 23 Rasmussen poll gave Obama a 49-45 lead there. And a University of New Hampshire poll from mid July put the spread at plus-three for Obama. So Boston-area volunteers have focused energy on the Granite State.
“It’s really not about Massachusetts,” says Nick Charlton, a volunteer from Concord. “We’re gonna be making calls all over the place. We’re so close to Nashua and Manchester that we’re gonna show support there.”
And if helping McCain win four electoral votes isn’t enough motivation for you, there’s also pizza, drinks, and prizes to top phone bankers. We know how bad you want a McCain ’08 fanny pack. Start dialing, peons!