What Polling Calls Reveal About The Voter Population
By Jane Cameron
As the month of November approaches, campaigning becomes more pervasive and aggressive in order for politicians to gather information and market themselves to their constituents.
This past summer I was involved in a state senator’s campaign for re-election. One of my tasks was to carry out polling calls in order to find out where he stands in his district. This experience highlighted the polarization and lack of political efficacy among the population of his district and America as a whole.
I was shocked to learn how little people knew about the voting process when it came to absentee ballots. During this pandemic, it is imperative that people are able to vote remotely in order to protect their health. Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to obtain a ballot or even how to fill one out. In the most recent presidential primary 558,032 ballots were not counted due to being filled out improperly.
When I asked people who they would be voting for, I was met with responses expressing that they would not be going out to vote in order to protect their health and safety, but many of them were unaware of an alternative. I was told by one voter, “I might not be in the state on election day, so I don’t know.” At a time when voter turnout is more important than ever, it is problematic that people give up at any barrier they encounter when voting.
The Republican party has been actively spreading misinformation regarding mail-in ballots, such as the increased likelihood of fraud, in order to deter individuals from voting in this way. However, fraud is not heightened and data suggests Democrats are more likely to vote when given the option of mail-in ballots. The nation must work to communicate and protect the rights every citizen is entitled to and ensure every citizen exercises their right to vote.
It seems that due to the influx in calls requesting donations to candidates, people anticipate that a call from a politician could only mean one thing, and they react based on that preconceived notion. I was surprised by the hostile responses I was met with when they knew I was calling on behalf of a political candidate. I was simply making polling calls in order to understand the intentions of voters in the upcoming election. I was not asking for donations, but I was frequently told, “We don’t need to take calls like that,” or “Thanks so much for calling. Buh bye,” before having the opportunity to explain my intentions.
The results of this behavior were these individuals’ concerns not being recorded for their state senator and an inaccurate reading of the district’s voting behavior. Being able to collect accurate data regarding voting patterns is crucial to a candidate effectively campaigning, and some individuals may have hurt a candidate they would support in the upcoming election.
Political polarization in the United States has been growing over the years, and this was the most common impediment to having a pleasant call. The “us” versus “them” labels became determinate of how I was treated. I was told, “I will not be voting for Democrats. Just look around you.” This mentality leads to candidates not being valued for their innovative ideas. Party line voting suggests a candidate just needs to rely on their party turning out rather than their ideas speaking for themselves. After learning I was calling on behalf of a Democrat, I was shut down by alternate parties. This left me unable to explain the accomplishments of their representative and what he has done for his constituents. If no one listens to the other side, how can anyone truly know what they are combating?
Although I am a Democrat, I was not excited with the response, “I will always vote Democrat,” either. Those who responded in this way displayed the fact that they did not think about the candidate as an individual. No matter which party people declared an unwavering faith for, they did not feel the need to learn what their state senator had accomplished during his time in office.
Engagement with voters is critical to a political campaign. If the voter doesn’t understand the necessary aspects of a campaign, then it cannot be effectively run. Furthermore, the need for campaigning is becoming less necessary as people repetitively vote one way and refuse to hear another point of view. This polarization means mobilizing your own political party will be the most potent impact on election results.
This is a pivotal moment in the United States’ mission to combat COVID-19 and achieve racial justice. If the country wishes for a change in leadership then Democrats must enlighten themselves and prepare their political party.
Jane Cameron is a sophomore majoring in journalism and mass communication, from Fairfield County, Connecticut.
Note: The GW College Democrats News & Blog Committee’s mission is to highlight, empower, and facilitate the political expression of its members. As such, the views expressed in this article are based on the opinions of its author, and do not necessarily represent the views of the whole of GW College Democrats, its executive board, or its senior deputy board.