Though it's all confetti and hugs and grins to Michelle, before Barack Obama was re-elected, he was neck-and-neck with Republican challenger Mitt Romney. And though a few Republicans said some outlandish things about e.g. rape being god-sent, it wasn't an easy election for Barack to win. Getting people to vote took a lot of work, much of it coming from volunteers who worked against the clock to get people voting in states where the race was closest. We interviewed Vincent McAviney, a 24 year old Brit who’s gone over to Washington DC to support Obama’s quest to maintain his seat as President of the good old USA.
We caught up with Vincent inbetween his busy campaign schedule.
So how did you get into political canvassing?
I used to work for a local constituency MP, which eventually turned into working for them in Parliament. It was through the Fabian Society that I found out about being a campaign volunteer in America.
What do you do as a campaign volunteer?
You’re phone banking, canvassing and helping out at the rallies.
And what does that mean day-to-day? What have you been up to today?
Today is called GOTV (Get Out To Vote). It's getting out to canvass neighbourhoods. You go straight to Democrats' houses to check that they know where their polling station is and that they know when it closes. You can offer them rides there if they need. When the polls close here at 7pm, we come back to HQ and start phoning people on the west coast, to try and get the vote out there as well.
And what’s the day job?
I'm a journalist, and I'm doing this in a personal capacity. It’s the last politically-biased thing I thought I would do.
How long have you been here? Have you met Obama yet?
I've been here a week. We went to a rally on Saturday night with Obama and Clinton and Dave Matthews Band.
Not Jay Z?
No, not Jay Z
Oh, sorry about that. Have you developed many skills being a political volunteer that you can use in your day to day job?
Loads: I’ve now got the confidence to go up to a stranger in a different country and talk to them about their politics and how their president affects the rest of the world. You've got to talk confidently on the phone to other people. And organise a team of people.
Are you making a big difference out there?
It goes a long way, they're receptive and when they realise you've come all the way to help them they engage with you and they're positive. You do come across some Republicans, but not too many. The final stage is about getting out your own vote.
And…how are feelings at HQ at the moment? Nervous?
It's really positive but it's going to be very close, it's going to be pretty manic. I’m staying with 30 other campaigners at a hostel two blocks over from the White House, so it’s quite hectic!
EDIT: Virginia was the first state to be called, and it was called for the Republicans. By morning, though, this changed back to the Democrats. That's how close it was! Well done, Vinny!