‘The prettiest girl at the dance’: Iowa and N.H. residents share their swing-state stories

Yahoo! News
The Ticket

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama in Davenport, Iowa, on Aug. 15, 2012. (Photo by Sean Patrick)

As Election Day approaches, Yahoo News has asked voters in swing states to share what it's like being in the thick of things as President Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney smother them with attention. This week, we look at Iowa and New Hampshire, which, as the nation's first caucus and primary holders, have been getting candidate attention since last year. In their own words and photos, here are some excerpts from voters on the ground in those key states. Live in a swing state and want to share your story? Here's how.

I moved here from California three years ago, so this is my first presidential election in New Hampshire.

A few weekends ago, I took my son, Milo (almost 3), to go canvassing in our town [for President Barack Obama]. When we knocked on doors, we found most people we met were supporting Obama. Milo enjoyed ringing the doorbells and exploring people's gardens. It's not unlike trick or treating, really.

As much as we found supporters, people were reluctant to volunteer or get involved in the campaign. I get it. I'm busy, too. Here in New Hampshire, we don't like to bother our neighbors. But when I did talk to my neighbors, even the ones who disagreed with me, I had a connection that I didn't have before.

I suppose it helps soften the antagonism when your 3-year-old sings "Vote Obama!" We'll be canvassing again soon.

—Sabina Chen, 44, Pelham, N.H.

Romney supporters pose with campaign signs after a rally featuring Paul Ryan in Derry, N.H., on Sept. 29, 2012. (Luke N. Vargas, Political Courier Media)

It has been exciting, especially these last few months, in Iowa. It's like being the prettiest girl at the dance.

After the first televised debate, Obama made a few more stops in the Hawkeye State to give speeches. Like the percentages of bumper stickers on cars I've seen on the highway, the media coverage, ads, radio spots and lawn signs lean 80/20 for President Obama. …

To this 37-year-old graphic designer, it does feel as if the Republicans have written off Iowa. Perhaps they view it simply as a lost state going to Obama. The Democrats focus [on it] as if it's the only state in the country that can give votes. Bill Clinton is coming soon for a few speeches at the [state] Capitol. The support and attention is evident.

—Dante Cinder, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Joe Biden with volunteer Reesa Guerrero

There have been times when the voters I called would refuse [to talk], times when the person I talk to is downright rude, and even times when I was screamed at, called every name in the book.

I've spoken to voters who still believe President Obama is not an American. And there were short, civil discussions about why some don't support the president.

Yet I've also spoken to supporters who lifted my spirits. Some of them even thanked me for being a volunteer in the campaign to re-elect the president.

—Reesa Guerrero, Claremont, N.H.

What I notice most is the advertising on the public television channels.

Early on, before the Republican National Convention, most advertising breaks in broadcast programming would feature three to four political ads. Since the convention, I'm seeing four to six political ads during each advertising break. Many ads are from special interest groups and are not endorsed by either Barack Obama or [Mitt] Romney.

What I hear most from people I talk to is that they are tired of the negative tone of the advertising, particularly the ads done by the special interest groups.

—Jerry Wedel, 70, Marion, Iowa

Four years ago, there were large groups of Obama supporters waving "Got Hope?" signs at nearly every intersection in town and at entrance ramps along [Highway] 89. I don't see the same enthusiasm for Obama this time around, so I think New Hampshire will vote for Romney for president.

—Stephen L. Heffron, New London, N.H., in an email to Yahoo News

Paul Ryan visits Burlington, Iowa, on Oct. 2, 2012. (Photo by iowapix on Flickr)

The campaign season can be a very long, tiresome process in Iowa.

As a voter in a key swing state, I assume I have watched rallies from both candidates much earlier and with more frequency than those in other states. I easily see 10 to 15 campaign ads a day for Mitt Romney; there's a slightly smaller amount for Barack Obama—about eight to 13 campaign ads daily.

The most memorable campaign commercial in my opinion is for Barack Obama. It emphasizes citizens making their own health-care decisions, moving forward (not back), and looking to the future (not the past). With each emphasized point, the positive message shows Barack Obama campaigning, while the negative message shows Mitt Romney campaigning. This is the commercial that made me decide it was time to delve deeper into what each candidate has done and what they want to accomplish.

—Kimberly Schatz, Waverly, Iowa