On Saturday I met up with Mike Molloy and Harris Wells, two Paul volunteers assigned to canvass for voters in the suburbs of Manchester, NH. The Paul operation is not all sign waves and protests — the easy stuff that so many fringe campaigns do to create the impression of momentum. Hundreds of Paul supporters are piling into cars, navigating Google Maps printouts where possible Paul supporters (independents and Republicans) houses have been checked off. Molloy and Wells were tasked with knocking on 55 doors and dropping literature or, if someone was home, pushing them to vote Paul.
I spent about 40 minutes with the pair and watched them hit 10 houses. Four people weren't home, and one wasn't the person listed at the address: They all got the generic fliers. One voter liked John McCain's war record but wouldn't commit 100 percent to him, so he got the flier for veterans. Two were completely undecided, and one of them didn't know anything about Paul. One wouldn't vote for Paul because she wanted the strongest possible Republican candidate. One said he was "probably" voting for Paul.
Molloy wasn't always asking point-blank if the voters would commit to Paul: "It depends if the question comes in the progress of the conversation." His strategy was to start a chat about an issue and see if he could sell a Ron Paul angle. For example, that "strongest possible Republican" voter was angry about health care costs, so Molloy talked about health care deregulation. When I left he had a sheet marked with people who were considering Paul, people who definitely weren't, and people who hadn't been reached.