In a digital age, groups say the ground game is still key to an election day win

Eamon Queeney—The North State Journal
Kay Coryell

RALEIGH — While pollsters and social media experts crunch numbers and strive for clicks, there are thousands of volunteers going door to door in N.C., hoping to turn the election tide one vote at a time.”We’ve visited 365,000 N.C. homes regarding this race,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion advocacy group. “We are doing this in a very targeted way. We are talking to people who generally agree with us but are a low propensity voters, and then also groups that we know that they agree with us, but they may not be voting for the pro-life candidate.”Susan B. Anthony List has spent about $18 million this election cycle, knocking on a million doors in North Carolina, Ohio, Florida and Missouri. In N.C. the group has around 300 volunteers working out of five regional offices across the state. They have been walking miles, knocking on doors, explaining what they believe and how their stance is impacted by the 2016 election. While the campaign fodder has revolved around immigration, taxes and scandal, these groups are hoping a conversation and a handshake makes all the difference.”The Senate race is a real contrast between [incumbent Richard] Burr and [challenger Deborah] Ross on the abortion issue and the same is true in the presidential campaign,” said Dannenfelser. “This issue is a qualifier for a lot of people. it might not be the top of their minds at the moment, but for a large group of people it qualifies a candidate for whether they will be considering that candidate or not.”Planned Parenthood’s political organization is also on the ground in N.C. advocating for pro-abortion rights candidates. In an effort the group calls unprecedented, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund has put about $30 million into this election cycle which includes canvassers knocking on 1 million doors across North Carolina, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.”You get more of a personal feel to it, you can talk to people directly about the issues and help them understand what’s going on as opposed to just seeing,” said Planned Parenthood volunteer and mother of 10, Rosalie Greene of Garner. “We are getting a great response. People are very fired up about abortion rights and women’s health.”In Wake and Mecklenburg counties Planned Parenthood has knocked on 200,000 doors, with the goal of hitting 10,000 per day until Election Day. On Election Day they are operating a 24-hour phone bank.”Conversations at the doors are the most authentic at reaching voters,” said Keith Mason, media coordinator of Planned Parenthood N.C. Action PAC. “You are really having a real conversation with someone, coming out and meeting them where they live, face to face.”In the third presidential debate the issue of abortion was examined and Democrat Hillary Clinton supported Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion. She also criticized federal and state legislative efforts to limit abortion access or defund Planned Parenthood. Trump openly opposed late-term abortions in the debate and said he was committed to putting anti-abortion justices on the Supreme Court, which he said he believes would put the issue in state hands.”That’s the first time it’s come up ever in a presidential debate in such a clarifying way. And in politics, clarity and contrast is everything,” said Dannenfelser.