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The last week of an election is a rollercoaster of emotions — especially if you work on campaigns.
You’re looking for every available sign, desperate for any information, aching to try one more thing to deliver the outcome that you’ve worked for, sometimes for years. You look at polls, crunch data, tally early vote returns, ask your neighbors, call your mom or your uncle.
“What are you hearing? What are you seeing? What do you think?”
You ask yourself, “What did we miss? What can we still do?”
You take an oath: “Let’s not leave anything on the table.”
You’re exhausted and frustrated and now the end that you thought would never come is rushing at you and all you want is one more week, one more day, one more hour just to work a little bit harder and longer for the person or cause you believe in.
Undecided voters — I mean, I don’t get how anyone could be undecided at this point — are like Rubik’s Cubes in a hall of mirrors built inside a pretzel factory. And all the signs are written in ancient Greek.
These are the laments of the campaign staffer — Democrat, Republican, Green, Independent, Libertarian.
So as we head into the final days of the 2020 election, on behalf of my friends and opponents in elections big and small, I ask that you, dear voter, who we have chased and cajoled like a love sick teen feeling the bite of that first crush: Be kind, be patient, don’t slam the door or call canvassers names. All we want is for you to like our candidate, to support our cause.
It’s OK to just hang up the phone if we call — it means we can move on to the next number faster. It’s all about dialing the next number. But don’t curse us or throw threats. We’re only calling because we care.
We’re not trying to bother you. We’re trying to break through. To connect. To understand how you still don’t have a voting plan or haven’t made up your mind.
We’re baffled — because it’s so obvious to us. We’re annoying, sure. But it’s because we care.
So we’ll keep dialing and knocking and putting those ads on TV and radio. We’ll invade your Facebook and Instagram feed, we’ll tweet and we’ll wave signs. And we will try it all again tomorrow if we think there’s even an iota of a chance that this time we might convince you.
People who work on campaigns put up a tough front. They call themselves brawlers and fighters, passionate advocates and defenders of the righteous.
But they really are — all of them — optimists.
They believe that through their actions and their hard work that they can change the world and make it a better place.
Only an optimist can last in politics, to look at all the available evidence and decide that yes — yes indeed — if we canvas just one more street, call just one more voter, find just that right message, we can make sure everything turns out for the best.
And even on those dark days when the voters give you the cold shoulder and the numbers don’t go your way, you know that next time things will be different.
So, as an optimist, here is my prediction for Election Day. Joe Biden will win. He will win convincingly — with enough of a margin that there will be little cause for drama.
He’ll win because more voters like him than like President Donald Trump. Because after four years of chaos and a botched handling of a global pandemic, voters are ready for a return to normal. Biden will win because reality TV is fun to watch, but miserable to live. And he will win because he is an honest and decent man at a time when our country needs an honest and decent man more than anything.
How, you might ask, do I know? I don’t. I’m an optimist, not a fortune teller.
If you haven’t voted yet, please do. It’s the surest way to make sure people like me stop calling.
If you have voted and you’re working for your candidate, don’t stop, keep going. The voter who decides the race may still be out there, waiting for your call.
And if you disagree with my prediction, as some of you surely do, I’d say the best solution is another shift on doors — to prove me wrong. I know you’re an optimist too.
David Farmer is a public affairs, political and media consultant in Portland, where he lives with his wife and two children.