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Government & Politics

A Glimpse of the Get-Out-the-Vote Effort in Ohio, and the Voters Who Are Responding

Miranda Kimble


With just a few days remaining before Ohio’s primary, the attention of all the campaigns is zeroing in on getting out the vote. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze took a look at the efforts of the two Democratic campaigns vying for attention in a year when Republicans are dominating the narrative.

Bernie Sanders signs
Campaigns of yard signs and phone calls are gearing up

After months of national debates, it’s time for the ground game in Ohio. The distribution of the yard signs. The phone calls. The one-on-one contact that ensures the opinions people have formed translate into what really matters: Votes.

Deametrious St. John has worked Democratic campaigns for years. This time around, he’s opening Canton headquarters for Bernie Sanders.

'Knock and drag'
With early voting continuing through this weekend and on Monday,  he says the focus now is what’s called “knock-and-drag.” Getting voters with the demographics leaning your way to the polls. And he says even in the primary, Democrats are keeping their eyes on Republicans.

Deametrious St. John
St. John says both Democratic campaign are focused now on getting the Democratic turnout up -- regardless of whether they go for Clinton or Sanders.

 “We want as many people to vote as possible because as you can see, the Republicans right now they have more excitement in their primary -- if you want to call that excitement. More Republicans are getting out. It’s almost the opposite of 2008. So we have to get those numbers up. And Stark County, it’s the largest swing county in arguable the largest swing state.”

Social media and the Clinton camp
Cuyahoga is not a swing county. It’s Ohio’s Democratic stronghold. Hillary Clinton’s campaign has set up offices on Cleveland’s east and west side. For 20-year-old Miranda Kimble, this will be her first presidential election as a voter. And as an advocate.

She’s making phone calls to likely voters. But she says campaigns also must recognize that social media is the contact of choice for many people her age.

“Instagram, Snapchat. That’s where young people usually spend most of their time. Since that stuff has carried onto social media, they actually get to hear what Hillary and all the other candidates are actually talking about. They actually hear what’s going on and know, ‘I live here, too. This matters to me.’” 

Ohio primary polling hours: Thurs-Fri: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sat: 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sun: 1-5 p.m. Mon: 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Election Day: 6:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.

Deametrious St. John may live with social media the way Kimble does. But he says even the old fashioned get-out-the-vote efforts have a higher-tech edge. Neighborhood canvassers, for example, are armed with apps with real-time updates when someone votes. No need to knock on a door and drag someone to the polls if they already went on their own.

Trump sign
The GOP campaigns have gotten far more attention.

Lower numbers and motivated voters
Ohio’s Secretary of State released numbers this week that indicate, at least among early voters, turnout is running behind four years ago – and will fall well shy of 2008. Still, nearly 175,000 people have cast early ballots.

People like Todd Herberghs of Canton. Though he’s deeply interested in the Canton parks levy, he acknowledged after voting at the Stark County Board of Election that the big draw is the presidential race.

He’s also among the roughly 50 percent of Ohio Democratic voters identified in a recent Baldwin Wallace poll who are more likely to vote for a candidate who can work across the aisle.

“This whole purity of party thing is lost to me. I want stuff to get done. And nothing’s getting done.” 

He voted for Hillary Clinton.

Consistency and principle
Matthew Hudnall of Kent is 33 and was helping his sister move in Canton when he stopped at Bernie Sanders headquarters for a sign. He’s not yet voted, but he’s never missed an election. The key for him is a consistency of message.

“He’s very principled and it’s very rare for a politician to be as principled and as consistent as he is throughout decades of time. And so he truly believes in what he says and truly believes in the American people.”


Patricia Wilson
Patricia Wilson is a life-long Republican hoping God will deliver a good president.

  ut from a breakdown of the early voting numbers, it looks like about half the voters won’t be picking Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton. They’ll be pulling Republican ballots – and choosing among Donald Trump, John Kasich, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

Hope for a higher power
And those campaigns have their own knock-and-drag efforts aimed at voters like Patricia Wilson – a lifelong Republican who was a pollworker herself for 25 years.

She’s counting on more than campaigns to convince her.

“I’m hope the Lord gives us a good man, because God is always in control of everything and I hope he gives us a good president. :08

Ohio has early voting hours through Monday, and Election Day is Tuesday.