I’m the type of voter most candidates love.
I own my own home. I’ve lived in it for 20 years. I have a master’s degree, and I subscribe to The Washington Post. I also read Money Magazine and Kiplinger’s. I haven’t missed voting in an election in more years than I can remember.
Any candidate who plans to be President of the United States and who wants my vote should take the time to figure out how not to get it. Here are the six biggest sins:
Call during dinner. This means 6:00 to 7:30 PM in our house. Assuming the candidate is also having dinner during this timeframe, the call will come from a staff member or a volunteer. It usually goes something like this:
“Hello? I’m calling on behalf of Calvin Candidate. Are you planning on voting in the next Presidential election?”
“Why are you calling during the dinner hour?”
“Um…oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t realize it was the dinner hour.”
“Where are you calling from?”
“Uh…actually, I’m in the Midwest.”
“And you don’t eat dinner or supper in the Midwest?” Click.
Send vaguely addressed mail. About 15 months before we go to the polls, pieces of election mail start arriving almost daily courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service. Some are in newspaper format. Flip them open, and you’ll read how the candidate really cares about local problems such as jammed roads as well as national issues like healthcare. However, this literature is always addressed to Registered Voter, not me. Not exactly personal, is it?
Leave voice mail about your opponents. The truth is, I really don’t care that one of your opponents has already spent $13 trillion on his or her campaign. If people want to donate to that candidate, it’s gone out of their checking accounts, not mine. Nor do I want to know that Candidate X was suspended for a week from the Girl Scouts for irregularities in the troop’s cookie sales 40 years ago.
Show up on my doorstep. Avoid allowing one of your volunteers show up at my front door. I get visits from them before every Presidential election. Although my block is posted against soliciting or trespassing, last week, a politician running for county supervisor knocked on my front door. He opened the storm door and firmly planted his foot between it and me. When I asked him to leave, his response was, “So, can I count on your vote?” Hopefully, your volunteers will be too busy at the national level for the next year to darken my doorstep and interrupt my senior nap, dinner, or cleaning the two cats’ litter boxes.
Accost me outside the grocery. I am there to hit the salad bar due to my failure to plan anything for dinner. I am there to get cucumbers, lettuce, tofu, and a host of other goodies to make our evening pleasant. I am not there to be sandwiched between a pair of your volunteers reciting a mini version of your resume and asking how I’m going to vote. Please tell them to go away.
Pounce on me at the polls. There are rules directing poll workers and partisan volunteers to keep certain distances from citizens arriving to vote. Even when you follow the requirements, I still don’t appreciate hearing, “Are you here to vote, Ma’am?” while still struggling to back my Toyota into a parking space between two SUVs. Why else would I show up at an elementary school at 6:10 AM when it’s snowing? And asking me if I understand what’s on the ballot is right up there with, “Can you read?” If your volunteers work inside the polls, please tell them to just hand me my “I Voted!” sticker. Attempting to stick in on a certain part of the anatomy below the chin creates a little bit too much familiarity in my book.
I know life is not fair; we all have to make a living. If you really want my vote, stick to the issues without stalking me. If you really want to live in the White House, it’s not too late.