This past month, before the Democratic National Convention, OffTheBus community members conducted interviews with swing voters -- and people they thought might be swing voters. Below you'll find dispatches from California, Utah, Arizona, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia and Maryland. The interviews throw up some interesting material, underlining, for one, the enduring power of campaign sound-bites and cliches. Many of the people interviewed repeated story lines constructed over the last two decades at least and for this campaign in particular that have generally come to define the candidates and their parties. The Democrats, for example, are fiscally irresponsible and want to tax you. Obama is "inexperienced" and "doesn't know what he's doing" and may be an "Islamist posing as an American." The Republican party is still seen as pro "small government" and "low taxes" and is "strong on defense." McCain is or was a maverick politician who occasionally went "off the farm" -- a good or bad thing depending --and is likely emotionally unstable even if a true man of honor.
Mercifully, these laugh-lines are not embraced across the board. Rosalyn Johnson found some real surprises in Maryland, where she lives, and Marta Evry makes a compelling case based on her work in Virginia that, whatever you think and hear, during this election at least, none of it is certain and no one, regardless of their lofty position at the polling firm or cable news outlet, knows a thing!
Election 2008: Nobody Knows Anything
Forget everything you've heard and read. Whether it's Fox, MSNBC, NPR, the New York Times or the Huffington Post. Suburban Republicans, southern blacks, Army brats, believe me, you can't poll the stuff I've seen on the trail.
Chicagoland: Lack of Experience Versus Cranky Old Age
In contrast to the Democrats I spoke to, the Republican lawyer said she saw no problem with McCain's militarism, nor that of the neoconservatives more generally. She didn't worry about the possibility of a draft. She felt that the Iraq War was "mismanaged" but that there was no hidden agenda and no "conspiracy" to lead us to war.
Searching For Swing Voters In Blue Maryland
Many of the people I spoke with, whether Democrat or Republican, believe McCain represents wealthy corporate interests and Obama represents the interests of the average working American. Yes, you're reading this correctly: Obama represents the average working man.... no allegations of elitism here.
McCain Country Swing Voters Looking For Change
"We need a strong leader whose name is not Bush or Clinton.... It's the possibility of change -- not a certainty, of course, and the possibility is beginning to look dubious based on recent positions."
In San Francisco, A Republican
A 64-year-old woman who did not yet know how she was going to vote, since she wasn't certain how either candidate felt about the "big issues." She did like that McCain had "experience" and "strong values," but felt that Obama, though "good," "just doesn't know what the heck he is doing."
Hard Hit In Midwest Most Desperate For Change
Obama is the favorite by far but there is worry that he will not win, not because he is not seen as qualified but because some people will only vote for a white candidate. The message of hope and change is inspiring and empowering but will he really, as president, be able to implement his plan? Will the lobbyists allow the new president to eliminate taxes for seniors making less than $50K? Will he stop the war? Will he bring the jobs back?
What Election? A Report From Rural Utah
People were suspicious when I asked about the election. They don't want to talk about it. Most seem to view McCain as anti-conservative and/or not religious and Obama as some kind of Islamist posing as an American.