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Battleground Zero

Battleground.jpg
Battleground.jpg

Mike Mahurin

On the eve of the presidential nominating conventions starting next week, Sen. John McCain, the presumed Republican nominee, has narrowed, if not eliminated, the lead that Sen. Barack Obama, the likely Democratic candidate, held in national polls just a month ago.

The Zogby/Reuters poll that had McCain behind by seven percentage points in July now has the Arizona senator leading by five points. Meanwhile, Obama, though ahead by six points in a Gallup poll as recently as a month ago, now has just a slim one-point lead, well within the margin of error.

Why is the race getting closer?

Reasons for this shift may be evident in dispatches from four Center for Independent Media journalists reporting from battleground counties in key swing states. Each county surveyed was closely contested in the 2004 contest, which pitted President George W. Bush against Sen. John Kerry. Each was won by the candidate who carried the state that year.

Over the last week, these political reporters spoke with political observers and voters in these four contested areas, to learn how this presidential campaign is playing out–not in the blogosphere, not on talk radio, not on cable, not on a MSM editorial page–but on the streets of America.

In Dallas County, the fastest growing in Iowa, Jason Hancock of the Iowa Independent found that McCain has rebounded from the drubbing he received in the caucuses. He now has the support of many conservatives who had voted against him just eight months ago.

In Sandoval County, suburban Albuquerque, New Mexico Independent reporter Joel Gay found Obama’s message of change was resonating with voters disappointed by eight years of Republican rule.

In Pine County, the exurbs of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., more than a few voters did not shy from telling Minnesota Independent’s Paul Demko that Obama’s race is a reason to vote against him.

And in Michigan, which could the most important swing state, Michigan Messenger’s Alexa Stanard found in Oakland County that Obama’s race–and McCain’s age–clearly figure in some voters minds.

Voters were interviewed randomly. The samples were small and unscientific. Any conclusions should be made cautiously.

This is a snapshot of four bellwether counties of an evenly divided nation 10 weeks away from selecting its next president.

** Battleground Zero**

Iowa Independent: McCain recovers in a GOP bulwark against a statewide Democratic tide.

New Mexico Independent: In New Mexico’s presidential vote, Sandoval County will be key.

Minnesota Independent: The battle for Pine County.

Michigan Messenger: In Oakland County, “change” is the word — and race and age are in the air.

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