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How you can help No On 8 (no calling required!)


I'm disheartened to see that the latest poll shows Yes On 8 way ahead of No On 8. That poll was commissioned by the Knights of Columbus, who've donated heavily to the Yes On 8 campaign, and I have no idea whether it's a legitimate poll; but I was already worried by the very close numbers from the previous two (more clearly legitimate) polls.

So I've decided it's time for me to take action. And in case you're feeling similarly, here's some info on how you can help.

Y'all already know that you can donate money. But there are other things you can do as well. In particular, you can volunteer--and if you're willing to make phone calls, you don't even have to live in California.

There are various things you can do as a volunteer (including vitally important Get Out the Vote work on election day), but in this entry I'm going to focus on two things: making phone calls and providing administrative support.

Phone calls

If you're comfortable calling people and talking to them about political issues, then sign up to call voters. The No On 8 campaign provides a detailed script. A couple of people who don't normally like doing this kind of thing have told me that it was a lot easier and more comfortable than they expected.

I'm told that going to a phone bank also makes it easier--you're in a room with a bunch of other people doing the same thing. There are phone banks all over California; in some places (like the South Bay), there are even phone banks in outlying cities on different evenings (as well as at the field office itself), so you may not have to travel far at all.

However, what if you can't easily get to a phone bank? What if, say, you live in some other state? Or you'd rather work from home?

You can sign up online to phone from home, from anywhere in the US. (I assume that the system doesn't work outside the US, though; sorry to those of you living elsewhere.)

To participate from home, you'll need a computer with broadband Internet access (not dialup Internet). I'm not clear on other details. If you're interested, go sign up and I'm sure they'll answer any questions.

Non-calling work

If you're like me in that the thought of calling up a stranger to talk about politics (even with a script) makes you want to run and hide under the bed, and if you live in California, there's another way you can help: with administrative tasks at a local field office. (Sadly, this aspect isn't something you can do from out of state.)

So if you, like me, have been sitting around thinking "Oh, I can't cope with calling people, woe is me, I can't do anything to help other than sending money," now is the time to stop thinking that and take action.

I didn't call all the field offices--only the San José and San Francisco ones. But I betcha your local field office has similar needs. Call them and find out.

If your closest field office is San José or San Francisco, read on.

San José

They need general administration help--handing out packets to callers, tracking numbers of calls, etc. They need this kind of help mostly in the evenings, from 5 to 9 p.m.

If possible, sign up ahead of time by calling their main number: 408-453-4592. But if you aren't sure of your schedule ahead of time, you can just show up.

They're located at 43 East Gish, near 1st St., in San José, right near the airport; they're on the second floor of the Democratic Party building.

I can't go tonight or tomorrow night, but I'm thinking I'll probably head down there regularly starting Friday. If anyone in Mountain View wants a ride, lemme know.

San Francisco

In addition to general administrative stuff and phone-bankers, they need data entry people. They handle the data entry for the South Bay office as well.

They do data entry training every day at 10 a.m., 2 p.m., and 6 p.m. I think you can just show up to those sessions without advance notice, but if you want to make sure, call their main number: 415-252-8132.

They're located at 2278 Market, at Noe, near Castro, in the old Tower Records building.


This administrative stuff is stuff that any of us (in California) can do, without having to make phone calls to strangers. No more excuses for me--I'm gonna go volunteer. Hope y'all will too, if you can.

And spread the word. I imagine that other No On 8 field offices need help as well; if you aren't near San Francisco or San José, please visit the list of field offices and call your local office to see how you can help.

There are offices in Berkeley, Oakland, Santa Cruz, and Santa Rosa, as well as a bunch of places in SoCal and a few in the Central Valley and coast.


For what it's worth, the Public Policy Institute poll is much more reassuring.

Nonetheless, volunteering cannot be a bad idea.

Poll analysis blogger Nate Silver posted about Prop 8 today. He reckons that it has a 45% chance of passing, which is better news, but still too close for me. I am far more nervous about this than I am about the presidential election.

Thanks for the volunteering info. My next couple of weeks are kind of crazy, but I'll get down to the SF office if at all possible. Time for me to put my effort where my mouth is.

Thanks, all!

That new poll is definitely reassuring; I would've mentioned it in this entry if I'd seen it yesterday. But it means the recent poll numbers are all over the map.

That Nate Silver post is very useful; thanks much for pointing to it. I was about to go construct a table of poll results myself, and he did a much more thorough job than I would have. But he leaves out two possibly nonstandard polls (the No On 8 internal poll, released on Oct. 7, showing 47 yes/43 no; and this new Knights of Columbus-sponsored poll). And even in the numbers he shows, although he overlays a nice fish-shaped curve, I think that trendline may obscure the real data.

What it looks like to my eye is (a) a pair of conflicting poll results right after the ruling, followed by (b) a long steady-state period with only four data points in a four-month period, followed by (c) a confusing jumble of data in the past month, with four to six data points showing results all over the map. If we count the two polls by unusual polling organizations (internal No On 8 and Knights of Columbus), then in the past month we've got Yes ranging between 44 and 52, and No ranging between 42 and 52.

Which leads me to tentatively conclude that (a) as Silver and others have noted, polling on propositions appears to be tough to do accurately, and (b) it's probably a close and volatile campaign.

Robert: Thanks for the link. The following isn't addressed to you; just some further thoughts provoked by reading the piece you linked to.

I'm torn about bringing up the Mormon thing: on the one hand, it always makes me uncomfortable when people try to damn someone or something by association with a group that people are prejudiced against (like saying Obama is a Muslim). On the other hand, it also makes me uncomfortable that the LDS church is putting so much money and effort into passing a California ballot initiative.

The Wall Street Journal reported this yesterday: "Between 30% and 40% of the $25.5 million in donations raised as of last week by the 'Yes' campaign has come from the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, supporters of the measure say."

Andrew Sullivan says that a group opposed to Prop 8 claims the number is more like 77% of the donations.

But of course it would be entirely legal even if 100% of the contributions came from Mormons. I mean, I bet quite a large percentage of the No On 8 contributions come from those dreaded Social Liberals, including a lot of them who aren't Californians. Isn't it playing into anti-Mormon prejudice to publicize the degree to which Yes On 8 is supported by Mormons?

Difficult questions. I decided to leave the Mormon connection out of my entry here, because I don't want to suggest that the main reason to oppose Prop 8 is that it's supported by Mormons. But I think I'm okay with discussing that aspect of the campaign here in comments, as long as we acknowledge that things aren't so simple as "Mormons support Prop 8; we all know that Mormons are bad; therefore, Prop 8 is bad."

(Again, I know that's not what Robert was saying; I just think it's an easy argument to fall into, and we need to be careful about it.)

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