Sarah Ledbetter voted for Bush. She only watched Fox News and she believed Democrats were always wrong, no matter what. But now she's an Obama supporter and campaigner. And yeah, still a Republican.
Sarah lives in the red center of a blue state, Fresno, California. The agricultural capital of the United States, Fresno has high unemployment and high teenage pregnancy. There are many evangelical churches and a lot of social conservatives. Republican values are part of this region's values, and something most people take great pride in.
Yet Sarah, a lifelong Republican, had the feeling that something was wrong. "I watched President Bush blow my conservative principles to oblivion," she said. She is a fiscal conservative who believes in honest government. "I feel like I've been lied to."
By the time the Republican primary had started Sarah was unimpressed with all the candidates. "They all sounded too much like Bush," she said. Having lost her faith in the president she had supported, she began to wonder if her values were horribly flawed.
She watched the Republican All-Star Team, Mitt, Huck, McCain, Thompson, and Guiliani with disdain. "I thought maybe this is what the Republican Party is," she said.
"I know where they get their news because that's where I got my news. I know what it's like to be in the Sean Hannity bubble," Sarah said. "I only watched Fox News and I was spun and misinformed."
Still, she decided to investigate, on her own, what the Democrats believed.
"Everyone on Fox was saying that Hillary Clinton was going to win, that she had the Democratic nomination wrapped up, so I went to Hillary Clinton's website." She liked a lot of Clinton's ideas but being fed a steady anti-Clinton diet for most of her life the idea of voting for Clinton was hard to reconcile.
After Barack Obama won the Iowa primary she started to pay attention to this man Fox News said had no chance. She heard some of his speeches and really liked what he had to say so decided to buy his book, The Audacity of Hope.
"After I read the second chapter I turned to my husband and told him I knew who I was going to vote for. He asked me who and I told him, 'Barack Obama.' He thought I was crazy," she said. "It was hard to go from being cynical to believing in something."
But she decided for the sake of her children she had to believe that change was possible. "I realized that all my votes in the past had been selfish votes for me, not for my children's future."
Sarah has a six-year-old, a three-year-old, and a two-year-old. Like most parents she worries most about their future. That worry goes beyond any political ideology. "I think it's more important that my kids have an education and a roof over their heads. They are relying on me and my vote to get that for them," she said.
She was a stay-at-home mom until May when she returned to her career in commercial insurance. She doesn't hold a college degree but hopes to return to school one day and possibly pursue a writing career.
Sarah still considers herself a Republican but supporting a Republican for president was simply not an option. She knows that she is not alone. "I'll never forget that disaster Bush. There are an awful lot of us out there who don't care what people do in their bedroom or with their doctors."
"This should be a landslide."
Sarah works hard to convert her fellow Republicans with her unique insider advantage. She realizes how the Republican message works, how it exploits fear. "It's all the same -- that terrorists are coming and we need to be on offense."
Looking at it from the outside now, the hypocrisy of the Republican Party makes her just as angry as any Democrat. "It's ironic that McCain's slogan is 'Country First' because I'm voting for Obama to put my country first," she said.
Sarah joined the group Republicans for Obama in Fresno and she regularly donates her time to help the campaign. Even her husband has joined in and he provides Obama merchandise to the whole San Joaquin Valley. This is Sarah's first time working on a political campaign.
"I am so impressed with the Obama operation," she said. "There are literally thousands of people across the country working for him and we've never met him. But the whole campaign is run so well anyone who says he doesn't have experience running things ... it's unlike anything I've ever seen."
Sarah is a passionate advocate for Barack Obama. Since she doesn't live in a swing state Sarah makes calls to voters in Nevada and plans on visiting at least once before November 4.
"My goal is to educate people about Obama's positions and policies," she said. She reads whatever she can about Obama's proposals and is currently reading the book Obamanomics. She believes that Republicans will vote for Obama if they give him a chance.
"He should get 100% of the vote. That's my goal."