Sunday, August 7

"Hi! I'm with We Are Wisconsin"

Phonebanking for “We Are Wisconsin” has proved to me why I am not and could never be a salesperson. Making cold calls is really tough. Especially when some people hang up on you. And some are clearly annoyed to be getting yet another call.

“At least I’m not a robot! I’m a real person!” I decided I am going to say next time, and there will be a next time. The cause is too important for there not to be. Even though calling strangers isn’t the most fun way to spend an afternoon.

I made dozens and dozens of calls for Jennifer Schilling who is running against Dan Kapanke to claim his Wisconsin State Senate Seat. The majority were planning to vote or had already voted absentee for Jennifer. One woman thanked me for reminding her, taking me by surprise, considering the amount of ads I imagine (from my flat in NY) are running in Wisconsin. That was very rewarding.

And despite the Midwest rep for niceness, I was hung up on a lot. Some before I could say a word. Others gave me a resounding click somewhere into my spiel. Some said “wrong number” which I mostly took as a lie. Some said the person wasn’t home, although I think a few of those were lying too.

One woman flatly but politely said she was voting for Kapanke. But she was the only one. I had some other singular voters and conversations.

One gentleman told me he was up in the air about Tuesday’s election. “Is that because you haven’t made up your mind?” I asked. Turns out he had voted for Kapanke last year. And it wasn’t that he was a big Kapanke fan. “Is it that you are not sold on the whole concept of a recall?” Yes, that was it! His feeling was that the election was the choice. And funny thing, his wife is a teacher who didn’t vote. So she and her friends who also didn’t vote are all voting for Schilling. “So she kinda balances you out,” I said.

And I remarked that Wisconsin law provided for a recall if enough voters petitioned for it. And if politicians campaign on jobs then reveal a very different agenda once they get into office, perhaps recall is a good option.

But his feeling was that only people who had bothered to vote in the election should be allowed to vote in the recall. An interesting idea. I didn’t argue.

Another voter I reached had just gotten home from her own phonebanking shift in LaCrosse. So we talked shop. She hoped people were being nicer to me than she experienced. A lot of electioneering fatigue is setting it. I hope all the people who ask to be removed from the list are not called again.

Maybe that’s the cause of the weirdest call I had. I greeted the man and launched into my short spiel which ends with a cheery “Can we count on you to vote for Jennifer Schilling on Tuesday?” Silence. We were still connected. I could hear kids in the background. “Hello?...Hello?...Mr Hickey?” No response. For several minutes. Had he set the receiver down? Was this passive aggression? And then without a word the phone was hung up with a loud click. Made me appreciate the ones who hung up right away.

I will be very shocked if Jennifer Schilling doesn’t beat Dan “Hanky” Kapanke on Tuesday.

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