We were in Portland, Oregon for Labor Day weekend and did some volunteer work with both the Obama and Jeff Merkley campaigns. They were both pretty different experiences and rather surprising.
Jeff Merkley is running for US Senate in Oregon against the incumbent Republican. He's very progressive on a lot of issues and it would be great to see him get into the Senate. I had given some money to him last December and thought it would be great to volunteer for the campaign while we were passing through Oregon. So while in Seattle I sent the campaign an email and signed Mekayla and myself up to do some canvassing.
I had thought that canvassing would be something I would hate, and Mekayla would love. She just tends to be a lot more willing to talk with random strangers than I am. Boy was I wrong. Mekayla hated the idea of interrupting people's days and trying to convince them to vote for a particular politician. It turns out I thought it was incredible fun.
Once I got over the initial wierdness of knocking on strangers doors and I more or less got a rythm of starting the conversation I had a great time talking with people and talking about issues with undecided voters. Even though I didn't know all of the details of Jeff's positions I could always fall back on talking about Democrats in general and the reasons why I was supporting them. I knocked on about 85 doors and talked to about 25 people. Not a bad success rate for a Saturday over Labor Day weekend.
The next day we decided to volunteer with Obama's campaign doing voter registration. This was a bit more in line with something Mekayla was happy with. We essentially stationed ourselves in a high traffic location at an art show and made it really easy for people to register.
For both days we got a lot of "thank yous" on the street and they were both great experiences. And it adds a whole different dimension to our road trip across the US to actually connect and talk with locals along the way. We hope to volunteer with some other Democratic Senate campaigns as well as Obama as we continue to travel.
FYI, I've gotten a lot of my information about the Senate campaigns from the Senate Guru Blog and making donations through their ActBlue Expand the Map page.