Door-to-Door for Obama
By Jose Antonio Vargas
LONDONDERRY, N.H. -- Tobin Van Ostern started this morning the way he started Thursday last week, making one last pitch for Sen. Barack Obama.
"But New Hamspshire right now isn't as cold as Iowa," says Van Ostern, standing on Wilshire Drive on this sunny, almost spring-like day.
Van Ostern, a 19-year-old sophomore at George Washington University, spent his winter break in Iowa -- Christmas and New Year's included -- canvassing for Obama. Then he flew to Sudbury, on the outskirts of Boston, late Sunday night, and drove up to Londonderry at 6:30 a.m. this morning with his girlfriend.
It'll be a busy day, most of it spent knocking on doors. His is a targeted approach. He's got a list of Obama supporters to tell where the polls are and what time they close.
Van Ostern is one of the Obama's campaign's no-longer-secret weapons: a young voter who's steeped in building social networks both online and off. He's deputy director of the national group Students for Barack Obama, which started as a Facebook group in July 2006 and soon became an official part of the campaign.
As he made his way to the next door, Van Ostern took out his BlackBerry. (Yes, 19-year-olds these days walk around with BlackBerries.) On it, he checked his Facebook account, which allows him to instantly communicate with his 654 listed friends, for updates. Then he provided one of his own, changing his status bar, which alerts his friends what he's doing at a given moment.
This morning, the bar read: "Tobin Van Ostern is . . . in NH."
Now it reads: "Tobin Van Ostern is . . . knocking on doors for Barack in N.H."
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