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On the Road: Bloomington, Indiana

“The bus roared through Indiana cornfields that night; the moon illuminated the ghostly gathered husks; it was almost Halloween. I made the acquaintance of a girl and we necked all the way to Indianapolis. She was nearsighted.”

– Jack Kerouac, “On the Road”

One Day Voter Registration -

Today was the final day of voter registration in Indiana, and we’ll have the final numbers for you after the official tally comes in, but here in Bloomington we learned from Obama student GOTV coordinator Jim Snaza that nearly 11,000 Indiana University students have registered to vote since August 15. Approximately 1,000 came in just today (pictured).

I asked Jim and fellow IU SFBO (Students for Barack Obama) coordinator Neville Batiwalla how they’d gone about registering students, and they described an evolving process, built on the campaign’s learning from lower-than-hoped-for student registration numbers in the Texas and Ohio primaries. Jim, a senior who joked that he was failing all his classes for all the time he spent on the campaign, personally registered 798 students, and hoped he’d win a statewide contest to win an Obama-autographed basketball. Glumly, he reported that his 25 today had been bested by his roommate’s 100, and he worried he wouldn’t wind up meeting Obama. Here’s hoping that whoever wins the contest, Obama stops to shake Jim’s hand too.

Like Alex Max in Durango, and presumably all over the country, high school freshmen are leading the way to register high school kids as well as phone bank or canvass nearly every day. We spoke to Colin Diersing, a freshman at Bloomington South, about his involvement. He’d come in one day during the primary to help do data entry. As with every volunteer who comes to an Obama office, he was asked which time and date he could return.

Soon, an organizer asked him if he’d like to try phone calls. As is near universal, his first few calls had him a little nervous, and Colin spent ten minutes or so getting his call script comfortably into his personal voice. Then he was off to the races. At his high school, a few students got together to start the Obama group, and then each person brought two friends, and so forth, until the student group had a dedicated staff of 10-25 who regularly call and knock. Often they hit near 2000 dials in a night, the same as one of the three McCain Las Vegas, NV offices in its entirety.

As was the case in Lafayette and Lake County, there are no McCain offices to visit.

On the whole, the massive voter registration drive and the routinely packed field offices lead us to believe Obama has a strong chance to pull an upset here in the Hoosier State. A war with David Letterman is not going over well in this state, as McCain’s internal Indiana pollsters would be forced to confess. We’ll be back in the state for Obama’s visit to Indianapolis after a brief drop down to Belmont University for tomorrow night’s debate.

Tomorrow there are two other significant announcements, one involving Nate and one involving Brett and our trip. We look forward to sharing another liveblog from the road, at approximately mile 6000.

Landscape -