BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — With a nearly two-year campaign in its waning hours, volunteers for Erie County’s Democrat and Republican committees were hitting the phones and area doorsteps, with a constant barrage of pitches to sway undecided voters.
Local campaign leaders were also working their respective bases to ensure voters were following party lines when they cast their ballots Tuesday — an effort that spanned beyond Erie County.
“We’re calling voters in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, right here in Buffalo,” said Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman Jeremy Zellner. “We’re really focused on getting out the vote for Sec. Clinton.”
While the presidential race gets the nod for top of the ticket, local leaders believe voters will follow suit on the rest of their ballot.
“We have a mission here that we will leave no Republican or no Trump supporter home on Tuesday. And we’re doing our very able best to do that,” said Erie County Republican Committee Chairman Nick Langworthy. “I think many of those people will stay on the Republican line and can buy into a lot of the messages that our candidates are putting out there.”
Caroline Holroyd will not be voting Tuesday. That’s because she’s from Niagara Falls — Ontario. But that didn’t keep her from getting out the vote for Hillary Clinton.
“It’s the first time I volunteered for an American election,” Holroyd said. “I didn’t know I could do that, so I just saw somebody was doing it, and he said go over there and make phone calls. I just decided it today.”
Holroyd said she felt the need to get involved because ripples of this election will spread beyond borders.
“I think whatever differences there are, I think it should be easier to come shopping here, not harder,” she said, chuckling.
Whatever the outcome, there seems to be only one thing on which both sides can agree.
“It’s been such a long campaign, and I think everybody, and I mean everybody, wants tomorrow to be over,” Zellner said.
Said Langworthy: “I think a lot of us are ready for this one to be over, and I think the American people are ready for this to be over, and I think we all need to take a deep breath on Wednesday.”
Expect to hear a great deal of emphasis will be on momentum as voters head to the polls.
That was the election eve topic for Canisius Professor Kevin Hardwick’s political science class.
He said the strategy for 270 electoral votes has been unfolding for the past year, making itself even more evident as the candidates host their final rallies in battleground states, some of which will be in play for the first time in recent presidential elections.
“Ohio, which has gone Democrat in the past few elections, could very well go for the Republican, Trump. That’s huge,” Hardwick said. “North Carolina seems to be settling down into a Clinton state. But again, that’s to be decided when people actually vote.”
Hardwick said Florida will be the most important player in this year’s race for electorates. The Sunshine State’s 29 electoral votes are up for grabs, which is why both candidates campaigned there in advance of Tuesday.
“It’s very difficult to imagine a path to 270 electoral votes for Donald Trump if he does not win Florida,” Hardwick said. “If he does win Florida, he’s still got to win a lot of states, but it become easier.”
The same is true for Clinton, he said.
“She’s definitely going to need Florida. It all comes back to Florida,” Hardwick said. “Unless you can tie up a state like Michigan with a state like Pennsylvania, which both candidates have spent a lot of time in.”
Also key this year are late battleground states in the Great Lakes region, like Michigan, Wisconsin and, even to some degree, the historically Democratic Minnesota.
Because the race is so tight, Hardwick said even the states offering a handful of electoral votes are important, making Maine and Nebraska– which are not winner-take-all — crucial in the race to 270.
It’s also why Democrats like Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul campaigned in Pennsylvania on Monday, rather than in their home state.
“They’re going to send their troops to Pennsylvania and Ohio, where they can do the most good. Where they can actually make a difference in the Electoral vote count, not the popular vote count because we know it’s not the popular vote that matters.