There's quite mix of views in Ohio's Wood County. Over half of its voting-aged citizens as registered independents. With only one exception, Wood County has successfully predicted the outcome of the presidential election correctly since 1964, which might be why both Obama and Romney have been spending so much time here. I grew up in here, but was incredibly surprised by what I heard as I moved through two very different parts of the county to collect VOX for NPR's Weekends On All Things Considered. I worked as a producer on the show during my Kroc Fellowship and was only too pleased to get an assignment from the show just days after I'd moved back to Ohio.
I headed first to the weekly Farmers' Market in downtown Perrysburg, the suburb in which I grew up. I spoke to an artisanal salsa maker who told me, "Obama's done nothing about anything. The economy still sucks, unemployment's still bad, [and] he shoved health care down everybody's throat that didn't want it." A few stalls later, I met a woman who decorated onesies to sell in order to raise money to pay for her son's medical bills. She said her family pays more in healthcare than for their house, and while she's gotten some peace of mind from the Affordable Care Act knowing that her son, who recently had a liver transplant, wont be denied coverage because of his condition, she isn't totally satisfied with the job Obama's done.
Then, to touch base with a different aspect of the country, I drove about 20 minutes southeast of my hometown to a small rural community called Luckey, which was hosting its 30th annual Fall Festival, complete with a tractor pull. There, I met two friends who were selling small hand-sewn pumpkins and beaded jewelry who told me about their support for the president. One told me, "When I was laid off, he kept the unemployment [benefits] coming, so that I didn't lose everything." I talked to a lot of people who said they'd be voting for Obama, but there were some who were unabashed about their negative feelings toward him. I then approached on man who was eating a corn dog at a picnic table to ask him about his views about the upcoming election who said he's supporting Mitt Romney because "he don't let the illegals over here and put them in college for free when my grandson can hardly afford to go to college."
To hear from Wood County voters yourself, and to learn more about why its a microcosm of the country as well as why Ohio is so coveted by either candidate, tune in to the segment hosted by NPR's Guy Raz:
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