After months of preparation and a three-week spree of intense campaigning, a radiant Hillary Clinton took to the stage in the ballroom of the Sheraton on Times Square. “There’s no place like home,” she told an energized crowd that repeatedly interrupted her with chants of “Hil-la-ry, Hil-la-ry.” In her New York primary victory speech, Clinton thanked all “the volunteers who have worked their hearts out” and encouraged others to sign up: “Be part of this campaign.”
Any presidential campaign needs volunteers, tens of thousands of enthusiastic supporters who give up their free time (and often their money) to champion their candidates. That’s no different in New York, where volunteers scoured the state going from door to door, making phone calls or organizing events.
And yet, volunteering varies — as a look at the Clinton, Trump and the suspended Sanders campaigns shows. Clinton’s volunteers are the most experienced and the most loyal, they are also closely tied to the offical campaign; Sanders’ were highly motivated, but loudly and vehemently demanded their independence, and Trump’s are few, and just as as outspoken and spur of the moment as the real estate mogul himself (shouting matches between volunteers and staffers included).
In that sense, the volunteers are a reflection of the candidates themselves.
There was an elderly lady shouting, “We made history. It’s awesome.” Clinton staffers signing up people to volunteer. Applause when the current president took to the stage (albeit a fictional one, President Grant from Scandal). Boos during a Trump commercial in the break.
Silence when the “Mothers of the Movement” talked about their dead children – from Eric Garner to Trayvon Martin. And cheers for Lena Dunham, when she reminded everybody that “22 years ago, Hillary Clinton said, ‘Women’s rights are human rights.'”
Theater director Mark has been a Clinton volunteer since the beginning. For the special occasion he sported a t-shirt with the names of famous first ladies – and one future first gentleman.
Most of the party guests were volunteers, who came to watch Hillary’s nomination with like minded friends.
“What is great when you volunteer is that you are in a room full with other Hillary supporters,” said experienced phone-banker James to the cheers of the crowd. “I met some of the most amazing people. I will be friends with them for all my life,” he added.
Name: Kate Phillips Borough: Manhattan I will vote: Hillary Clinton
“I felt it was time [to volunteer]. I have been supporting Hillary since 2008 and now it’s getting tight. It’s getting close with Bernie, the New York Primary is coming up, and I just feel like young people are really vocal about Bernie. Young people aren’t vocal about Hillary – I really don’t understand why, she is a fabulous candidate. So I thought, I should put my money where my mouth is and volunteer.”
“I have been supporting her for a long time. First of all, just a 100%, I really think it’s very importantly to have a woman president, that’s just a fact. Still, I am not going to vote for Carly Fiorina, obviously.”
“Other than that, she is easily the most experienced. There are huge issues abroad, so much shit happening. She has been Secretary of State – in any other election year if she wasn’t a woman, I don’t think it would be an issue at all. I mean she is clearly the most experienced.”
“I want millennials to see other millennial that are passionate about Hillary Clinton,” said Elizabeth Lucy, 22, a volunteer and one of the two organizers of the evening.
“It’s just so important to me when I meet another young Hillary supporter, so I wanted to get us all together to see one another and say, ‘We are here and we are with her,'” she said.
More then 120 people turned the Union Hall in Park Slope, Brooklyn, into a full-blown Hillary party. For many it was the first time they had met other Hillary supporters their age, and they excitedly took the chance to discuss politics without being put into the Bernie-corner.
“Stop saying I should like Bernie Sanders, I don’t,” expressed Carley Gooley, 26, who works in marketing and was here with her girlfriend.
With the New York primary around the corner, the event attracted several media outlets (including a Dutch tv crew) even though a promised surprise guest – who would have been New Jersey Senator Cory Booker – didn’t make it.
But that didn’t stop the enthusiasm of the young Hillary fans, who took selfies with the golden “H” balloons and schmoozed over nachos and their common dislike for Donald Trump.
And it wasn’t all socializing – at the end of the evening, a Hilary for America staffer had a staple of volunteer-sign up-sheets to bring back.
There is a LOT of primary events going on in New York right now. And I mean a lot, a lot. That kind of a lot, where I will need Hermione Granger’s time-turner to even have enough time to make a list.
Some of them are official, but the vast majority are events hosted by volunteers and supporters. Luckily, both the Sanders campaign (here) and the Clinton campaign (here) post all these events on their official websites, so go ahead and browse around.
In the meanwhile, I have made a list of my 5 Favorite #NYPrimary Fan-Events Over the Weekend. The list is by no means complete, but I couldn’t resist sharing some of these jewels with you.
I recently commented on how I never see Hillary supporters out on the street, but things have changed.
With the New York primary less than three weeks away, a stream of volunteers for “Hillary for America” took to the streets this weekend.
Like these Clinton supporters who spent Sunday afternoon outside the Park Slope Food Coop in Brooklyn.
“Are you registered to vote, where you will be voting?”
“Are you interested in getting the vote out for Hillary?”
“April 19. Remember to vote for Hillary. Let’s make history.”
At the beginning of the shift, a campaign staffer briefed the volunteers on how to talk to people. “I don’t want you to feel that it’s too scripted,” he told them. And remember: “You are doing a civil duty by telling people where to vote. You are not soliciting.”
After that the volunteers were on their own. Brazing the freezing cold, they handed out flyers, reminded people to vote for Hillary on April 19, and signed up interested passersby for future volunteer shifts.
“It’s been great so far,” said Elizabeth Lucy, 22, a first-time volunteer. “It’s so brilliant to be outside of the Food Coop, where you know everybody is a democrat in there,” she added laughing.
Another first time volunteer was Gina Borden, 24. “It’s fun. This is a little out of my comfort zone, reaching out to people in this way, but it’s for something that I really believe, so it’s absolutely worth it,” said the dancer.
The majority of volunteers who came out this Sunday were in their twenties. And they were quick to point out that not all young people are automatically Bernie supporters.
“I am standing here, and my friends are standing here, so it’s clearly not true,” said Edward Delman. The 25-year-old journalist wore a red “The Future is Female”-shirt unter his thick jacket.
After an hour in front of the Park Slope Food Coop, the volunteers went to their next location – the farmer’s market.
Let’s assume that we will see a lot more of them in the next weeks.
Name: Jeanette Lee Borough: Park Slope I will vote: Bernie Sanders
“I really want Bernie Sanders to win. He is just very authentic. I like his socialist ideas. He will be good for the people.”
“I did a lot for the McGovern campaign [in 1972,] campaigned for them. Now, I do phone banking for Sanders. I contribute. I have all his stickers up on my windows.”
“My son supports Sanders as well, I would have to discipline him if he didn’t.”
“I hate the Clintons. Taking a million kids down food stamps. The whole Clinton foundation, who they support. And she hasn’t done one big interview. People say she is a woman, but so what. Margaret Thatcher was a woman.”
Before Hillary Clinton launched in her campaign speech last Friday night at a New Hampshire fundraiser, she made sure to thank the “thousands of volunteers” who braved the bitter cold to get out the vote for her.
“I know how hard you are working. Across the state [you bring] your dreams and determination into this effort, knocking on doors in the winter cold,” Clinton said.
On the eve of the primary, the Democratic as well as the Republican candidates rely on thousands of volunteers working for them in the Granite State. Some are locals; many are not. In fact, many of the out-of-towners who flocked to New Hampshire this weekend were from New York.