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More Ohio Impressions: Did Mccain Reach Swing Voters?

TOLEDO, Ohio--As I wrote earlier, most the voters I saw at this predominantly white, working- and middle-class polling place were backing Barack Obama.

But not all of them.

Out of the twenty-three voters who spoke with me, six said they'd voted for John McCain. They seemed no less informed about the campaign, no less sure of their impressions, and no less willing to talk about them.

Two were veterans. Charles Tackett was wearing a faded, military green hat bearing the USMC logo. He told me "Obama is too young, as far as I'm concerned," and said he was worried about Obama's plans for new government spending. "That's a trillion dollars debt, right at the start." Mike Manrow, an Army veteran, said he valued McCain's military experience and position on guns. "I'm a big Second Amendment supporter."

Like most of the voters I met over the course of the morning, Manrow said he was worried about the economy. But, uniquely among those I interviewed, he wasn't looking for the president to fix it, since he imagined the government could only make things worse. "I'm a free enterprise supporter and I don't think the government should get too involved with the economy," he said. 

Indeed, if there was a constant in my interviews, it was that those people looking hard to the next president for economic relief strongly favored Obama. McCain's supporters, by contrast, were people voting primarily on other issues, such as religion and foreign policy. And they seemed to hold relatively strong conservative convictions.

Just to reiterate, my sample was not scientific. And it was in an area that traditionally supports Democrats. In other words, don't go telling your friends that, based on my little report, Ohio is turning deep blue this election.

But in two hours of interviews, I saw absolutely nothing to suggest McCain had won over white blue-collar voters primarily concerned with the economy. If Ohio does end up voting for Obama, I suspect that will be a big reason why. 

--Jonathan Cohn