A massive and influential part citizens play when election season rolls around is working to solidify undecided voters’ beliefs – whether pushing traditional backers to the polls or convincing them that they are making a grave mistake. Conservative Cincinnatians, however, have taken this to new extremes. Citizens located in Massillon, Ohio formed a “phone bank” not only to spread Republican cheer, but to win over the teetering eight percent of voters who remain undecided in the state of Ohio – a typically known swing state who often “swings” from one political party to another.
Back during the infamous 2008 presidential elections, the state sported a proud shade of blue when backing current President Obama, but that didn’t stop them from supporting his Republic predecessor, George W. Bush, in both 2000 and 2004. While Ohio remains in a sticky or somewhat uncertain situation, the Citizens for Community Values Action – a political “action arm” of a similar organization of the same name, built shop in a citizens flower shop to establish a small, DIY-style call center.
The organization may seem small, but they are apparently very significant to the overall voter makeup of Ohio, claiming to constitute “23 percent of the state’s electorate.” The owner of the flower shop, Rob Coburn, closed down after 12 years of business and got involved in the political agenda after expressing concern for his children’s’ future.
Kent State Stark political science professor, Dr. Jarrod Tudor, explains the mentality behind this unsettling eight percent, and what it could mean for the organization if it were to boil over.
“Each one of those people are critically important. Right now it looks like both candidates have their tent dwellers no matter what,” Tudor says. “These people seem to be motivated. The challenge for the Obama campaign is trying to convince those voters who voted for him in 2008 that it’s the right to do again. That’s a great majority of the eight percent of voters left. For Romney, he’s got to convince those that voted for Obama in 2008 that it was the wrong decision and maybe it’s time to go in a different direction.”
Coburn’s once flower shop is being used as a ‘call center’ on Saturday mornings, having opened in July and serving as one of six offices in the state, with the remainder being located in Columbus, Cleveland, Dayton, Toledo and Cincinnati. According to Coburn, the reason he personally joined the movement was in large part due to the “economic situation in this country and the movement to take away our religious freedoms over the last few years.”
Working to ‘ignite’ all persons, Coburn specified that they are especially targeting fellow conservatives and Christians, as well as those “who believe the government is not fiscally responsible.”
To clear the air, however, Coburn claims that volunteers working within this self-made ‘call center’ do not ask for anybody to support any specific candidate, and furthermore the organization does not endorse any. Despite this, he wouldn’t comment as to what they are using the collected information for.
“I don’t think it’s possible to overstate the importance of the ground game in being successful in Ohio politics,” says Chris Maloney, spokesman for Romney’s Ohio campaign. “The races are won and lost in Ohio because of the ground game. It’s about marshaling your resources, identifying voters and making sure they get to the polls on Election Day.”
The Democratic party is not remaining silent, either. The Obama campaign has continued to recruit volunteers as well as open call centers, with one even located in Massillon.
Raymonde Charles, spokesman for Obama’s campaign, said the following, “More and more volunteers sign up every day to support our president who is fighting to restore economic security for middle-class families and has put the economy back on the right track by investing in the workers and industries here in the Buckeye State.”
One thing’s for sure – citizens are taking the nation’s political agenda into their own hands, and call centers are now playing a large part in that.
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Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli