‘Old lady brigades,’ exhaustion: Fla., Ohio tell swing state stories

Yahoo! News
The Ticket

Katie and Chloe Cavinder got to meet Mitt and Ann Romney in Ohio. (Courtney Cavinder)
Katie and Chloe Cavinder got to meet Mitt and Ann Romney in Ohio. (Courtney Cavinder)

As Election Day approaches, Yahoo News has asked voters in swing states to share what it's like being in the thick of things as President Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney smother them with attention. This week, we look at Florida and Ohio, two states that are familiar with their "swing" status and that are seeing a lot of the political action in the homestretch of the campaign. In their own words and photos, voters shared their impressions. Here are some excerpts.

Living in Ohio, I feel very privileged to have had numerous opportunities to see the candidates.

In fact, we have met Mitt Romney three times. There are yard signs everywhere! We live in a very conservative area and I have seen very few Obama signs. In our neighborhood I have seen two Obama signs and about 20 Romney-Ryan signs.

[Romney] came to a call center in Terrace Park, Ohio, last October when he was just beginning his candidacy. I thought it was important to take the kids to see a presidential candidate. How often does that happen? He stopped to talk to our daughters, Chloe, 5, and Katie, 9.  He knelt down and was incredibly personable and engaged them in an adorable conversation. He made a very good impression on us.

A few months later, he came back to Ohio to a company in Dayton. Our whole family went again, and once again he stopped to talk with Katie and Chloe. A few weeks ago we were thrilled to hear that he was coming to our town, Lebanon. … In order to have the best seats to see Mitt, we arrived in downtown Lebanon at 10:30 a.m. and were the first people in line. When he arrived around 5:45 p.m. we had the best seats!

Living here in Ohio has afforded my kids the opportunity to see our whole political process in action. I hope that no matter whom they decide to vote for when they get older, they understand the process and the importance of becoming involved in the issues that affect our country.

—Courtney Cavinder, Lebanon, Ohio, in an email to Yahoo News

Darnell Kreuzer’s teenagers with their Obama signs in Florida. (Darnell Kreuzer)
Darnell Kreuzer’s teenagers with their Obama signs in Florida. (Darnell Kreuzer)

All three [of my teenagers] have participated in the Obama for America campaign via sign waving, door-knocking and envelope stuffing.

At first I was a little hesitant to have them participate, as people can be very ugly if they are not for your candidate. The first time the kids sign-waved, a middle-aged woman pulled up to them and said, "You suck!" They were shocked, but laughed. I told them to smile and say, "God Bless You!" They were also surprised at how many people gave them the middle finger.

On the flip side, they were also thrilled to have the majority of people beep, wave and yell "Yeah Obama!" As Election Day grows closer in Florida, the tension grows with it. ... We feel strongly about our mission, and we love our president and support him, with all our hearts. The fruits of our labors were rewarded when we [and other volunteers] received a live conference call from President Obama.

[This week we went to] an early voting poll sign waving because we received a call--some of our signs had been de-faced. Even though we were exhausted from getting up early [to go to a] rally, we felt it was a sign-waving emergency. We immediately drove over and stayed for an hour and a half. … I'd say 85 percent of the people were giving us the "thumbs up" and beeping their car horns. One lady pulled up to us and said, "It's about time I saw you guys out here!"

—Darnell Kreuzer, Lake Mary, Fla., in an email to Yahoo News

An anti-Romney sign in Custar, Ohio (Leroy Wurst)
An anti-Romney sign in Custar, Ohio (Leroy Wurst)

The strangest thing I've seen here in Sarasota County … is what I'm calling the "little old lady" brigade.

There seem to be a lot of elderly women in this area accosting people in public with the most outlandish claims about Obama. The other day, one had the cashier at Dollar General trapped in an aisle while she spouted unbelievable conspiracy theories. She ended with, "Watch Fox News, you'll see." I was accosted in Walmart by one of them at the prescription counter and one at Publix at the customer service counter who tried to follow me out to my car.

—Deborah Aldridge, Sarasota County, Fla.

I live in Dayton, Ohio, which now seems to be the heart of the election drama.

The political commercials on radio and TV have gotten so numerous. At this point it is more pleasurable to not watch TV or listen to the radio. I used to listen to a certain radio station while driving my daughter to school. I would hear at least three commercials on my drive there and back. They were all one-sided, pro-Obama commercials that I felt were not based on facts. So I finally had to switch to talk radio on AM, [which was] pro-Romney. It was maddening, so now we listen to CDs.

I am a Romney-Ryan supporter, and this has caused disruption in my neighborhood. I made a decision to put a sign in my yard. This has made me very unpopular in a Democratic neighborhood. We now are on our fourth sign; they have been destroyed in various ways. I have to take it down when I leave my house and put it back when I return.

The conversations with my Democratic friends have gotten to be unbearable, so my contact with a longtime childhood friend has been very limited. Every discussion ends in a political debate.

—Elizabeth McDonald, Dayton, Ohio, in an email to Yahoo News

It seems like every few days someone I know is sharing a picture [on Facebook] of themselves with some major political figure.

The popular picture where Obama was lifted into the air by a local pizza owner was taken in my hometown at Big Apple [Pizza], where I've eaten before. One friend from high school has uploaded multiple pictures with the president. Another took a picture with Newt Gingrich, I believe in Tampa at the Republican convention. Joe Biden spoke [in] the gym at Lincoln Park Academy, where I attended high school. My parent's house is even a two-minute walk from where Mitt Romney spoke in Port Saint Lucie.

Seeing all these things so close to home has been a cool experience, but I'm glad this only comes around once every four years, and I will not be sad to see it go.

—Dustin Buckley, a student at the University of Florida

A homemade anti-Obama sign in Perry County, Ohio. (Chad Wilkins)
A homemade anti-Obama sign in Perry County, Ohio. (Chad Wilkins)

I'm a 21-year-old student at the University of Cincinnati, and the relentless campaigning by both sides has turned my everyday walk to class into a gauntlet run of student activist groups and voter registration advocates trying to push their agendas.

It's become more frustrating than when I lived back home in Columbus, and my family had to take a prerecorded phone call about the elections every half hour. UC's beautiful urban campus has been turned into a veritable battleground.

With the recent cold, rainy weather here in Cincinnati, however, many of these campaign tactics have been dropped, replaced with posters in various classroom buildings and random advocates coming up to me in the student center and asking if I've registered to vote yet and would I like to so I can show my support for President Obama. No, I've already submitted my absentee ballot for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, so I'd like to get back to my homework, if you don't mind.

Ironically, despite the influx of campaigning and signage on campus, there are relatively few yard signs spread throughout the student-populated neighborhoods off campus, though I attribute this more to competing interests among housemates rather than lack of interest.

Luckily, political tensions haven't spilled over into my own household (I live in a house with six other people just off campus), since my friends and I are able to have civil discussions about the issues rather than simply badmouthing the candidates or disrespecting each others' opinions. Of course, even those who don't agree with each other can agree that they just can't wait for campaign season to be over already.

—Ryan Hurley, Cincinnati, Ohio