I Got Dem Cozmic Swing State Blues Again, Mama

Friends from California tell me that to judge from the campaign activities there, you’d hardly know there was a presidential election going on. You can’t say the same in Ohio, 2004’s appointed Really Important Swing State, where it seems the candidates are visiting just about every day, and where I’m getting tons of crap from both parties, in the mail and through the phone.

Yesterday the phone rings, I pick it up and it’s an automated message. A folksy male voice with a southern accent says “John Kerry says he wants to be judged on the issues…” and that’s as far as it gets before I hang up. I don’t think I really need to hear the rest of that to know what’s coming next.

Out to the mail, where a flyer with pictures of a middle-aged guy staring glumly at a pile of bills, and text that says “Under President Bush, Ohio has lost…” and then some number of jobs, plus a bunch of other dismal stats, accompanied by a picture of Bush in one of his more unpleasant expressions. Again, I don’t think I really need to read the rest of this to see where it’s going. It’s in the trash before I get into the house.

Then to the phones again, where some alleged pollster wants to ask me a few questions. Which polling company do you represent? I ask. I can’t tell you, says the alleged pollster. Well, then, I can’t answer your questions, I say, and hang up. A small part of me is mildly interested in hearing the questions a push poller might ask (“Are you planning to vote for John Kerry, even though he’s been caught on video tape biting the heads off of fluffy kittens?” “Did you know that voting for George Bush has been clinically associated with testicular cancer?”), but I’m also aware that the point of a push poll isn’t to poll me, it’s to push me. Well, I’m pushed, all right.

Unless one candidate or another gains a double digit lead in Ohio in the next three days and maintains it through the month, all this crap is simply not going to end until November 2. Because Ohio is the designated swing state. It makes me wish there was some sort of registry for people who already know how they’re going vote to sign in on, so they could be left alone until it’s time to vote (and you wouldn’t even actually have to know how you’re going to vote — you could just say it so you didn’t have to be bugged). And then, every time you did get bothered by one of the political campaigns or one of their duly-represented busybodies, you’d get $10. I’d be rich coming into November, I tell you.

24 thoughts on “I Got Dem Cozmic Swing State Blues Again, Mama

  1. One nice thing about Oregon’s system. Since we vote entirely by mail and the ballots go out earlier, once you turn in your ballot your name goes on a list as having already voted. Voila! No more calls.

  2. Minnesota is not quite as swingy as Ohio, I think, but we’ve also been blessed with ‘special’ attention. Heck, my little town (the third largest in MN) has been ‘blessed’ with personal appearances by the candidates, their spouses, and the Bush twins. We’re still waiting for Kerry’s daughters.

    Personally I patiently listen to all polls, push or not, because if the Bush folks weren’t bothering me they’d be bothering someone else. Hey, I didn’t ask them to call me, and I’m honest and polite about my opinion when they finally get around to asking.

    It sure would be simpler and cleaner if they could simply buy our votes, wouldn’t it? I’m only being a little sarcastic. I’ve probably received over 100 bucks worth of ‘attention’ so far, and it is a bother.

  3. You poor bastard. Sounds awful. In NYC we get a few calls from the Dems and–shockingly–none from Bush’s mob. On the streets we regularly walk past people working for the Dems (never Republicans). I always smile sweetly and say, “Sorry, I’m Australian.”

    I voted today, but of course that was for a different election in a different country. It was at the Australian Consulate uptown. Surreally they use the exact same cardboard voting booths as are used back home. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but not for it to be exactly like voting at home. Right down to not being asked for any ID.

  4. California gets none of that. I recently had trips to Boston (WorldCon) and Ohio (for work). The difference was amazing. TV/radio ads all the time. *sigh*

    I haven’t been polled once, push or not. I am an abentsee voter [there are not 250 registered voters in my precinct and don't get me started on that rant], so my voter card is already here. I have some more propisitions to research and then I’m all ready to mail the sucker out.

  5. Well, some areas of California, at least, are getting canvassing attention. How do I know this? Because I’ve been participating in it!

  6. I don’t think I’ve seen a political ad yet. I’m sure part of that is because I live in Texas and it would actually take certified, guaranteed video of Bush eating the heads off kittens for him to lose here. The rest is probably thanks to my TiVo. And that’s just another part of why you’ll have to pry my TiVo out of my cold, dead hands.

  7. Oh sure, the Republicans aren’t much of a chance in NYC. Still, back home in Sydney, where I live in a safe Labor seat we get stacks of “literature” from the conservative party (confusingly for USians known as the Liberal party), you’d see their posters all over the place, sometimes run into their people canvassing. But here nothing. I find the contrast really interesting.

  8. We’re feeling the “love” in Washington state too. My husband, who is a stay at home dad, yesterday told the friendly canvasser to )(*& off — he’s had more than enough.

    Matthew Baldwin, a Seattle-area writer who blogs at defective yeti, had the best suggestion I’ve heard yet: No matter how you’re going to vote, answer “Kerry” when the pollsters ask, so maybe we won’t be a swing state anymore and they’ll leave us the !@)($*& alone. I put the link to his blog entry in the URL field; we’ll see if it works.

  9. In the NYC tri-state area, it’s almost as quiet as I hear California (and Texas) are. If not for “BC04″ or “KE04″ flyers quietly tucked away in some aesthetically pleasing portion of people’s suburban lawns, you’d never know there was a national election coming.

    Then I visited my brother in Michigan this past weekend. Over the course of a single afternoon of college football, I saw sixteen political ads — from **each** of the two big parties. Amazing.

    I’m so glad I don’t live in a swing state this year….

  10. Some idiot yokels here (Poplar Bluff, MO) got all hot and sweaty at the thought of putting PB on the map and managed to get 10,000 signatures on a petition/letter to invite W himself for a visit. This, in a town of only 17,000. Gag.

    Irritatingly enough, it worked exactly as planned. Black helicopters, Marine One, W himself (looking ironically far more than comfortably at home amongst the nearly illiterate crowd of diner-bait gathered on the park where the rodeos are normally held). The papers were full of it for a week (including a special “Collectors Edition” that Thursday (who puts out Collectors Editions on Thursday, for crying out loud?). Apparently, no one had ever bothered to gather 10,000 signatures to ask W to go anywhere (go figure!) and now the damned thing is going to be enshrined in his post-presidential library. And out of a town of 17,000 people, close to 30,000 attended. Yep – we got more people than the REPUBLICAN CONVENTION! God, this is a nightmare. I feel like the last living person in a zombie movie, just trying to keep out of sight of the flesh-eaters long enough to find an open highway and a Pinto with a quarter tank of gas abandoned in running condition.

    Kerry has even quit running ads here, but not quit sending donation requests – is that rude or what? “We’re leaving you to the hounds, but send us some money so we can go suck up to some other state to make up for your lameness”

    Somebody, please, send help!

  11. Real fun is living across the street from the site of the second debate. Parking has disappeared, we’re surrounded by media, and I can’t go to class tomorrow without showing ID. It’s nuts.

    To add insult to injury, the school gets 0 tickets for students from the CPD. We’re not happy.

  12. I guess Hungary isn’t a swing state. Haven’t seen a single ad here, from either party. My absentee ballot hasn’t arrived either. Maybe I should start worrying about that.

  13. I feel your pain, John, as I live in MN, and though we don’t get quite as many visits as you guys do, we certainly get our share. I fortunately do not have a landline and do not get phone calls, but the Mpls airport is between me and pretty much everything I need to get to, so I’ve spent a good bit of time over the past few months dodging road blocks, and look forward to doing so again tomorrow when Bush arrives. This just about sums it up for me:
    http://www.ucomics.com/reallifeadventures/2004/10/04/

  14. Soni: Real fun is living across the street from the site of the second debate. Parking has disappeared, we’re surrounded by media, and I can’t go to class tomorrow without showing ID.

    On one of Bush’s last visits he was thinking about going to lunch at a restaurant in Hudson, WI (just over the river from MN), and as a result Interstate 94 was shut down for a good chunk fo the day, the employees at the restaurant had to have extensive background checks, they shut down the entire area for several streets around the restaurant and forced all residents and businesses to evacuate for most of the afternoon.

    Now, I understand the need for security around the President, but is all of this /really/ necessary? It seems like every time he visits large chunks of the metro area end up in chaos for the entire day, and if I were a resident that was forced out of my home (or not able to return to it after fighting traffic for three hours), I would be really ticked off. And then, once you’re out of your home and looking for somewhere to go, they won’t even let you see the man who has forced you out of your home unless you sign something declaring your undying devotion to him. It’s ridiculous.

  15. Try living in Washington, DC, a half-mile from the site of the Reagan funeral. Dead presidents can really screw up your day as well.

    DC gives one a rather interesting perspective on security, since you can’t spit here without hitting a senator. I got out of a cab a few months ago and held the door open for the next passenger, Madeleine Albright.

    Seems to me that the right way to do security is to do all the background checks you like, and other measures that don’t screw up the lives of the investigatees. But shutting down roads and other clamp-down measures should be done judiciously. You can’t do that in DC because you’d shut down the roads all the time — so why do it elsewhere?

    Then again, I’m biased — I once nearly forfeited a non-refundable ticket to China because King George HW the First was visiting Philly, and they kept the roads closed until three hours after he left town.

    And loyalty oaths? Send those back to the McCarthy Era, where they belong. That alone is enough to give me hives about this man.

  16. Good point, but I suppose one expects those kind of interruptions from time to time living in DC. We’re used to being off the political radar most of the time here. We usually get one visit or two from a President, if that, so this excessive intrusion is highly out of the ordinary.

    Three hours /after/ he left? That’s beyond ridiculous. Bush’s visits everywhere seem to be beyond ridiculous, though, so I really shouldn’t be surprised.

  17. One other thing – the local police budget. Our city and county have used up all the money allocated for ‘special’ police needs this year. That means the cost (mostly overtime pay for cops) of any future candidate visits comes straight from the local taxpayers.

    Talk about the shaft? I get to pay more taxes so some fat cat can sit in front of a private, screened audience and pump them up into booing and sneering at *me*, the guy paying the bill?

    Why are the Republicans booing the people paying the bill for their party? Cause it feels good to finally be able to ‘boo,’ I guess. What good is it to being superior if you can’t be smug?

  18. Just to clarify — the airplane snafu was under the imperial reign of Bush the Elder. And I still don’t know if this was presidential imposition, or just the City of Philadelphia screwing up.

    Re living in DC — yes and no. Yes, we acknowledge that there are responsibilities that go along with the privileges of living in the capital city. No, worthy assassination targets are a dime a dozen here, and so you have to balance the security concerns along with the day-to-day lives of the people who live here. Shut down a city block every time a cabinet member goes out to eat, and you’ll put most restaurants in the city out of business. There’s probably over 1,000 VIPs here in that category; not all of them need to shut down streets every time their motorcade hits the asphalt.

    What amused me a few years ago was when the Republicans accused Clinton of abusing his helicopter privileges. Well, that’s because his CARS shut down the roads. The copter can go where it pleases.

    But don’t feel bad if you don’t see much of Bush. We don’t see much of him either, especially during national emergencies. You can usually find him on vacation in Crawford, or cowering at an undisclosed location.

  19. In Pennsylvania, my wife and I are getting hammered by phone calls — so far there have been four real-person Democrats trying to get me to vote for Kerry, two automated calls from Gov. Ed Rendell, trying to get my to vote for the Democratic ticket, and two for my wife from the Democrats.

    It’s getting reeeal annoying (as anyone who’s ever had a napping 18-month-old toddler can appreciate). One more call might just be enough for me to snap and vote for Bush, just out of spite.

    Well, not really — I don’t intend to vote for Bush or Kerry. But still, it’s enough to make me want to unplug my phone until after the election.

  20. I just want to say that Jhon Kerry is one
    person that you never met. I vote for Jhon
    F. kerry because of his intellagent waiting
    to make America better than George Bush is.
    I believe in him that we have better place
    if he is prisidant.

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