Day 1: (Cleveland) No one answered the door at my first house, which was listed as the residence of an old woman. As I was leaving the porch, a car sped up with its hood raised. The driver angrily asked me what I was doing, and I told him I was looking for Mrs. ____. “She’s not here.”
“Do you know when she’ll be back?”
“She won’t be back.”
“Is she dead?"
“I’m sorry. Do you know you’re driving with your hood up?”
“I saw you snooping around my property and came over to blow your head off.”
And he threw it in reverse and roared back to the repair shop across the street.
Day 2: Now in the suburbs, I spent the day in McMansion ghost towns – sprawling subdivisions of huge houses on eerily empty streets. While the houses are all different, the mailboxes are identical. Here is where the housing bubble burst, as people watched their impossible dreams turn into defaulted mortgages. Several of those I talked to were immigrants, who had recently bought from the original owners. Many houses appear vacant. I did not see a single child playing outside.
Day 3: I talked to young middle- and working-class couples who remain undecided two days before the election. Because they are struggling so in this economy, they are focused, not on ideology, but on things that affect them directly. Romney’s extreme makeover and mendacious TV ads do not seem to enrage them. They are not mean-spirited; they are worried about their families and their future – and they feel their politicians have betrayed them.