With less than 24 hours until the polls open, Hillary Clinton’s Philadelphia ground game is getting a boost as volunteers flood into the city from out of state.
Fueled by tight polls and fears of a Trump presidency, hundreds of volunteers from across the East Coast, and even from as far away as London, are reported to be arriving in Philadelphia in the final hours to help with “Get Out the Vote” (GOTV) efforts for the Clinton campaign.
Ira Rifkin and Ruth Berlin drove up from Annapolis, Maryland, on Saturday to do door to door canvassing in the northeast section of the city.
“It’s a very close election and the possibility of Donald Trump becoming president, to us that’s very disturbing”, said Rifkin. “We’re trying to do something, in a state that’s more of a swing state than Maryland, to make sure that does not happen.
Berlin, who identified herself as a senior citizen, said she has never felt like this about a campaign. “I’ve never had this experience before, being this frightened.”
The volunteer surge was not set into motion by the official campaign but by word of mouth, driven by individuals who put out the call to friends and family and through social media.
On the Saturday before the election a makeshift GOTV staging office in the Frankford neighborhood was controlled chaos as volunteers signed in, picked up information packets to distribute, worked a phone bank and streamed in and out in small groups to knock on neighborhood doors.
It’s a diverse group — from young couples with toddlers to retirees. A wide range of ethnicities are represented. But one thing the volunteers do have in common is that they’re not from Pennsylvania.
While most volunteers are from nearby states — New York, Virginia, Maryland and D.C. are heavily represented — Anurima Bhargava is from Chicago. The civil rights attorney took time off work, and for the last couple of weeks she has been driving to battleground states to help the Clinton campaign however she could. She says she has been pretty much living out of her car.
“For so many of us we wanted to go to a place where there is a lot at stake and its not clear how this is going to come out,” said Bhargava.
Some volunteers were especially worried that the SEPTA strike would depress the vote in Philadelphia, but with an agreement in place between the union and management, that’s no longer a concern.
Hillary Clinton will be joined by the president and first lady, Bill Clinton, Bruce Springsteen, and Jon Bon Jovi at a GOTV event tonight on Independence Mall.