McCain fights on in Nevada
November 2, 2008 | 9:28 PMRyan Enos
Over the weekend, three of my colleagues and I finally broke out of the ivory tower to see the Presidential campaign live and in person.
We drove through the night – and dodged some food-poisoning - in order to arrive by 6:30 AM at an Obama rally in Henderson, NV. This may seem like an impressive effort, but it is not much compared to time committed by the scores of UCLA students that have been traveling out of state to volunteer for the campaigns. Obama himself was at the rally, and he drew a very large crowd. A good portion of the event staff was comprised of UCLA volunteers.
After the rally, we observed many Obama field offices in the Las Vegas area – again encountering many UCLA students and alumni. Obama operations were spread out over every corner of the metropolitan area. The volunteers were enthusiastic even though many looked like they had not had a good nights sleep in weeks. Volunteers were fanning out across neighborhoods and knocking on door after door.
From the political science perspective, it was certainly interesting to observe the process and I learned a valuable lesson in inference. Based on the reports from the media – of the McCain campaign out-resourced and on the run – I did not expect to see much of the McCain campaign in Vegas. Additionally, Obama supporters assured me that the GOP would not be found in Clark County and that they were concentrating their efforts elsewhere in Nevada. I think I was so impressed by the spectacle of the Obama rally and their campaign organization that I was ready to believe that the McCain campaign had thrown in the towel – at least in that part of Nevada. Nothing could be further from the truth.
When we finally visited the McCain-Palin headquarters in Las Vegas, we found Republican activists that were at least as fired-up as their Democrat counterparts. McCain-Palin had bussed in hundreds of volunteers from California and other states. They had also been out knocking on doors and were running an impressive phone banking operation – more impressive than anything we had seen from the Democrats. Some of their volunteers had been there previous weekends, some had been there for weeks. Their efforts were centralized and well-organized. They even had an huge cook-out to feed their hard-working volunteers.
Besides reminding me that I shouldn't make assumptions based purely on anecdote, the impressive showing by McCain volunteers also helped me to understand why the Obama campaign is still punching when many of us assume McCain is down. I have wondered why Obama continues to pour millions into advertisements in states that seem to be well in hand. The answer is probably that they are savvy enough to understand that the McCain campaign may be losing, but it has not given up the fight. Tuesday may be a landslide – at least as much of a landslide as Democrats can manage in this country – but it will not be because of a lack of fight among McCain's supporters.
Ryan Enos says:
glad you you enjoyed Liz.
Liz Dayton says:
Well spoken, my friend. Many thanks to you & your colleagues for a wonderfully non-partisan (in most cases), yet PASSIONATE survey of the election. What an amazing piece of history to witness!
Dean of the UCLA School of Public Affairs and professor of political science.
Professor of education, law, political science and urban plannning.
Professor of urban planning, social welfare, and Asian American studies.
Professor of education and co-director of the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA.
Professor of public policy.
Associate professor of public policy.
Associate professor of political science and director of the UCLA Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Politics.
Assistant professor-in-residence of medicine.
Assistant professor of political science.
Assistant professor of communication studies.
Ph.D. candidate in political science.
Graduate student in political science.