Posted Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, at 4:10 PM
PATASKALA, Ohio -- My experience in Ohio has been largely skewed to rich suburbs and less-urban areas. This afternoon I drove over to a more RealAmerican small town in Licking County, only 30 minutes east of Columbus. Obama shirts and polos had been replaced by flannel and handlebar mustaches.
This town, which went heavily for McCain in 2008, saw a steady clip of white voters, about as busy as what I'd seen in Columbus. Richard Conaway, a 58-year old retired fireman, told me that he decided "two hours" earlier to go straight Republican. "Four years should've been enough to get things changed," he said. He had to think about it, but he voted for McCain in 2008.
After that I talked to Tom and Justine DeVoe -- he's retired and 72, she's 59 and "thinking about what to do when I grow up." Both of them had voted Republican, as they always do. How many times had the GOP contacted them about voting? "I'd run out of fingers and have to count on my toes," said Tom. They were committed, and the GOP had gotten them out. "It was easier than last time, because McCain wasn't much of a candidate," said Tom. "But no way was I voting for Obama. We didn't know anything about him. He'd been a state senator for a few months, then he was the nominee? To be honest, I've still got my doubts about whether he was born here."
Justine mentioned that they'd seen a documentary about Obama a few times that informed their thinking. "Dreams From My Real Father," she remembered, referring to the film sent to millions of Ohio homes, telling them that the president is actually the son of American-born Communist poet Frank Marshall Davis. They were equally convinced that Obama had been born abroad, and that his father was not Kenyan. "Did you know his birth certificate says 'father unknown'?" asked Tom. I said I didn't, because that's false -- it's a lie in the movie.