All this week we've been hearing from a panel of seven voters in Lake County, Ohio. John Hockenberry spent time there over the weekend to get a better sense of what matters to the people in this swing county of Ohio, which has been on the winning side of every presidential election since 1964.
Mom and attorney Marisa Cornachio, immigration activist Veronica Dahlberg, contractor Al Jones, working mom Kim Lobe, white-collar worker and consultant Joe Tirpak, business owner John Rampe, and student Kiarra Jones all told us who they plan to vote for, but two seemed to be firmly on the fence.
The conversation turned to race, and while some of the panel members felt that there are still many Americans who will not vote for Obama because of his race, others felt the reverse was true — that black voters chose to support Obama exclusively because of race.
But Al Jones disagrees. "I dont think it's just because he's black," Jones says. "I think it's because of the fact that he's a Democrat. Because it seems as though the Republican Party has decided to write us off."
Marisa Cornachio thinks that the Republican Party does not write anyone off. But she does feel that Al Jones' point demonstrates a larger issue: that Republicans are often characterized as being racist, or uncaring.
"I have a very dear girlfriend who lives in Pittsburg, and she is a die-hard Democrat," Conachio says. "Her favorite line to me is 'You Republicans, you don't care about people!' And I think that is probably a good summation of what a lot of Democrats feel."
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this conversation is not the great variety of opinion, but the commonalities. John Rampe predicts that there will be an independent president in 2016, and perhaps he is not wrong. There are certainly enough independent voters in the "most important" state.