Picking Kerrys in Ohio

Posted by sepoy on August 23, 2004 · 4 mins read

Good to be back. I have said, in public, that Kerry will win in a landslide; that the country cannot teeter on pinpoint for that long; that the debates (or some new tell-all revelation about Bush) will be the catalyst; that this race is most akin to 1980 with a sitting President bungling up a foreign adventure, hit with sordid economy and facing a competent challenger; that people will always like Bush but no one can have sooo many marks against him and still hope to win. So. I have said all that.

After my time in Ohio registering voters, I have almost convinced myself. But not in ways I had assumed. I assumed that people read newspapers, watch pbs or talk about politics and the world. I didn't think that the local papers (the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Dayton Daily and the Columbus Dispatch) carry so little critical news or so little "informative" pieces on the candidates. People don't know about Kerry. They have vague ideas but they are just not that involved. The election is not the most important thing in their lives. Some people scoffed when I asked them if they are registered to vote. Nah, Dude - like that was so lame. Some just walked by hurriedly as if I was offering them crack.

We were at a mall in downtown Columbus and it was pouring outside. I wanted to go inside but others told me that doing voter registeration inside the mall was not allowed. Huh? I didn't believe it but the manager of the mall, upon enquiry, exclaimed, "I am a Republican", and walked off. The question was, can we set up a small table by the entrance to offer voter registeration. So, I trolled the mall with the clipboard inconspicuously, casually asking people under the breath, "Hey, you registered to vote, man?". yeah.

Other thing that I did was call people. Now THAT was interesting. We were pushing two things: 1) Vote Kerry and 2) Vote by Absentee Ballot. Both were easier tasks than I thought but in different ways. I had an assumption that people will vote anti-Bush rather than pro-Kerry. Hence, I had this mental checklist of all horrible things that Bush has done (my order of significance was: Economy, Education, Enviornment, Civil Liberties, Iraq) and very little about Kerry's record. But people seemed to really want to know about Kerry. What will he do? What has he done? Some liked him overall, some didn't but were waiting to be convinced. My overall strike rate was around 60%. It is the debates that will convince these people. Kerry is a great debater and Bush, well, Bush sneers. That is when these people will make up their minds.

Still, whoever gets their people out to vote will win Ohio. I hope to participate in that effort as well when the time comes.

For the meantime, I am politic'd out. I start teaching in a WEEK. The panic button has been officially pushed. Plus, I got word that our panel was accepted at Madison's South Asia Conference held in October. It is the biggest gathering of South Asia academics in the universe and bores the living hell out of me. We proposed a panel of Early Modern India and so, I have to prepare that talk. Plus, I still have to submit the final version of an article for publication. Plus, I am just screwed seven ways from sunday.


Brian Ulrich | August 23, 2004

We have a big South Asia conference? The things you learn from reading blogs.

sepoy | August 23, 2004

Oh yeah. 33 years and counting... they even on the web.

desesperanto | August 23, 2004

bores the living hell out of me why? i went a few years ago (as a random passerby i mean), and had a jolly old time. brian, velchuru narayana rao is there, no? and mss pandian was there for a little while.

sepoy | August 23, 2004

nothing particular against madison...MESA bores the living hell out of me as well. I just dont like massive conferences with hobnobbing and stuff. My biggest grief is that they will ALWAYS schedule anything I want to attend at the same time. Never fails. At MESA, all the Early Islam panels are at the same time and here all the Mughal ones are at the same time. sigh. oh, and, panel or paper titles with RE- & POST- also bores the living hell out of me. I am just a snotty bastard.

Brian Ulrich | August 24, 2004

Oh, I know we have people here...Andre Wink is one of my Fulbright references and will probably be a reader for my dissertation. It just amuses me how isolated even closely related area studies programs can be from each other.