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What drives votes? Try these answers

I offer voices of reason as we enter the last days of the 2008 election: comments from the Salisbury Post’s Voter Panel.
These men and women volunteered before the spring primary to answer questions from time to time to help the Post present a variety of opinions in our coverage.
The group of about 25 includes Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters of all ages, and the comments several of them offered last week say several things:
– People feel strongly for or against a candidate or are strongly disappointed in the choices.
– Voters are likely to articulate their choice in terms of voting against someone.
– People stick to their party in the presidential race; unaffiliated voters are split.
Here are excerpts from their comments, edited for length. Their thoughts may help you think through your choices.
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VOTING FOR McCAIN
– “I had hoped for conservative nominee to vote for. For lack of anything better, I voted for McCain. … I was pleased with McCain’s choice of running mate. … I feel like the general lack of excitement in the Republican Party is a direct result of the lack of a candidate with strong convictions and principles of integrity.” ó Carrie Grubbs, Republican
– “The socialist ideology of Obama was a grave concern for me. The redistribution of wealth is not what this country was founded upon. I am a firm believer in working hard to better your position in life and not relying on the government to do it for you. Another concern was Obama’s lack of experience. He had virtually no foreign policy experience, no executive experience and no experience in dealing with national crisis. … My decision to vote for McCain is not so much a ringing endorsement for him, but rather a choice of who will do the least harm to the nation.” ó Scott Wilson, unaffiliated.
– “I agree with his positions on key issues that concern me the most, such as being pro-life, pro-traditional family values/lifestyle and pro-Second Amendment rights nominee in the history of presidential candidates. The liberal national media will not go after him because they are enamored with him. They have lost their objectivity to be true to the First Amendment, especially in presidential politics. As Sg. Joe Friday Would say, ‘Just the facts.’ ” ó Mac Butner, Republican.
– “There is really no worthy candidate for president this year. I voted for the lesser of two evils ó McCain.” ó Mike Link, Republican.
– “I am voting for what I think is best for our country. I believe that Barack Obama is a very left-wing liberal socialist. He believes that the government should have a big part in everything that is done in America. I disagree. He proposed $800 billion dollars of new programs and is not proposing cutting anything to pay for that. He is wanting to do away with the Bush tax cuts which amounts to the biggest tax increase in history. … I do not care for John McCain, either. I think the Republican Party did a major disservice to all of us by not having qualified leaders in place. I think his saving grace for me was selecting Sarah Palin as the VP. I like Sarah. I think she is from common people and knows how to get the job done. I just wish she would not listen to some of McCain’s advice. (Apologizing for the comment about liberals hating rural America).” ó Tim Byrd, unaffiliated
– “The reason why ó based on scripture ó humans have a right even from conception to natural death.” ó Carolyn Osian, Republican.
VOTING FOR OBAMA
– “Our country is in enough turmoil with the past eight years of this administration, and in view of the fact that Senator McCain has supported and voted for 93 percent of what has put us here, I do not think he is the best for our future. … We need a president that has a plan to provide working Americans less taxes, not more. McCain is for big business and wants to continue to provide for tax breaks to the wealthy. Also, McCain has every intention of keeping the war in Iraq ongoing.” ó Lynda Kirkpatrick, Democrat
– “The last eight years have been disastrous for our country. There needs to be a change in direction, and Obama is the most likely to provide that change in direction and the leadership we need.” ó Dick Huffman, Democrat
– “Whatever shortcomings Obama has in the way of experience and foreign policy, Joe Biden will certainly bring all that to the table. One thing I like about Obama are the stories I’ve read about his nature to seek out all the expertise he can and make wise, slow, deliberate decisions. We’ve had eight years of knee-jerk policy, and it’s gotten us in so deep, we will not dig out in my lifetime. … I want someone in office who is willing to listen to someone else’s opinion and will go anywhere, meet with anyone, on any soil, to achieve peace for this nation and the world. … McCain’s campaign is built around his belief that the war in Iraq is winnable, and we should hang on if it takes 100 years.” ó Jan McCanless, unaffiliated, who at one time planned to vote for Ralph Nader.
– “I like his ideas regarding health insurance in particular. I was recently diagnosed with a serious illness, so health issues have been on my mind. I also believe that it is time for some changes in Washington.” ó Nancy Patterson, Unaffiliated.
– “I was gung-ho on the Hillary train and had even planned to write her in …. But after watching Obama and Biden both speak, I’ve decided that I really do like Biden and I’m willing to give Obama a chance.” ó Abby Young, unaffiliated.
– “I believe he cares about people. In addition to compassion, I believe he has the intellect to deal with a multitude of complex issues in a thoughtful and practical manner. … I was inspired by Barack from the beginning, and the more I learned about him, the more I understood his vision for the American people.” ó Evelyn McMahon, Democrat.
– “My ideas are in line with a majority of the senator’s proposed policies. … Health care is the No. 1 issue that matters to me since I work two jobs now and still can’t afford my wife’s (who’s a teacher) or my own health insurance.” ó Patrick Borgquist, Democrat.
VOTING FOR BOB BARR, LIBERTARIAN
– “John McCain truly cares about this country and has served it admirably. However, he’s been in Washington far too long and is detached from the middle class struggles. Barack Obama offers a great inspirational story. He is bright and articulate. However, his lack of experience is a big issue for me.” ó Kirkley Russell, unaffiliated.
ON OTHER RACES
– “The next senator from North Carolina is one who, I hope, will occasionally visit the state and its citizens, and not sit up there in Washington telling everyone how great they are.” ó Jan McCanless, unaffiliated.
– In the county commission race, unaffiliated voter Kirkley Russell voted for Democrat Raymond Coltrain because of his experience with the Piedmont Research Station and Republican Jim Sides “not because I agree with him (I rarely do) but he keeps everyone honest and calls people out when they get out of line.”
– Unaffiliated voter Scott Wilson plans to vote for Democrats Raymond Coltrain and Laura Lyerly in the commission race, saying the board needs fresh ideas. “I am not sure that some of our current commissioners understand the competitive nature that every county is facing in trying to lure new industry. Incentives are a must.” On Lyerly, who has been missing in action since May: “If she is going to be available to serve, fine. If her personal issues are going to be too much, then she should withdraw from the race.”
WHAT HAS SURPRISED THEM
– “… that North Carolina is still a toss-up state just a week before the election. … The closeness of the presidential race has impacted the Senate race. Who would have thought that Dole would be behind in the polls against an unknown state senator?” ó Huffman
– “How long it’s lasted!” ó McCanless
– “… the heavy turnout for early voting.” ó Russell
– ” … the amount of money Obama has been able to raise and spend, as well as the lead he has over McCain.” ó Patterson
– ” … when JM (McCain) was out of money and looked like he was out of the presidential race in January and the next thing we knew he was back in and doing fair.” ó Byrd
– ” … the media. The abundant bias in the media for Barack Obama and against Sarah Palin is appalling. … Yellow journalism has returned with a vengeance and I am saddened and sickened by it. Edward R. Murrow, where are you?” ó Scott Wilson, unaffiliated.
– “The outright lies on both sides of the party lines. The fact that most candidates, especially Elizabeth Dole and Kay Hagan, think that North Carolinians are too stupid to get the facts straight.” ó Borgquist
– ” … when McCain picked Sarah Palin to be his running mate. I’m sorry, but just because I wanted Hillary in office doesn’t mean I want any random female in there. I hadn’t planned on having anything to do with McCain, and his decision just sealed the deal for me. … I am female, but I believe McCain’s choice made him look cheap. I wish Condoleeza Rice would just run and get it over with, I wouldn’t even have to think twice about electing her because I’d do it in a heartbeat.” ó Young
– ” … Barack Hussein Obama. Just four years ago an obscure state senator who is now the presumptive president of the United States. His ability to trump the mighty Clinton machine with both political organization and the ability to raise money like the world has never seen.” ó Butner
– ” … that it has taken this long for our country to recognize a woman’s place in politics. Hillary Clinton has proven to everyone that it’s time for a woman to lead this country.” ó Kirkpatrick
HAVE YOU CHANGED YOUR MIND IN THE COURSE OF THE CAMPAIGN?
“What has changed is my opinion of John McCain. Early on, I felt strongly that whoever won, we as as a nation would be in good hands. That is what changed. … Being a gracious loser is a virtue lost on McCain and the Republicans. It seems that the ends justify the means, even if it includes smears, lies, hate, violence, scare tactics and polarization. … Thoughtful, respectful debate is gone.” ó Michael Young, Democrat.

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