Heading to the Polls in Biden's Home Town
By Robin Shulman
SCRANTON, Pa. -- Here in the coal-mining town of 75,000 that came to symbolize blue-collar America over the course of this campaign, voters lined up Tuesday morning to cast their ballots at a polling place at the Jackson Heights senior citizens residence.
"We haven't seen turnout like this in years," said one poll worker.
"This is the first presidential election I've voted," said Doug Dagger, 30, an online poker player, who said he was inspired by Obama's promise. "I think he's an excellent speaker," said Dagger, who came to the polling place with his girlfriend. "We associate more with younger people our age, and a lot of them support Obama," he said.
"I could have voted for McCain a year ago, but he's become more conservative," noted Dagger. "Palin is way too conservative."
Scranton -- a hilly town of once-grand old buildings that housed the managers of the once-prosperous coal, steel and iron companies -- loved Sen. Hillary Clinton. The Obama campaign had trouble winning over some of her most ardent supporters, even though vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden grew up in the town and Pennsylvania has voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in every election since 1992.
The McCain campaign poured resources into this part of Lackawanna County, as well as other similar working-class counties in northeastern Pennsylvania, in hopes that the Republicans can sweep the area and possibly take the state's 21 electoral votes.
At the polls, people said the question of which presidential candidate to pick was a difficult decision, and others said it was too hard to decide.
Karen Jobs, a 33-year-old bookkeeper, said she didn't vote for president, though she did vote for Democrats in local races. "I don't believe John McCain has a real clear perspective on what common everyday people are going through," she said. "But I didn't vote for Barack Obama because I can't support his position on abortion."
At another senior center on Washington Avenue, race came up repeatedly in conversation with several white voters who said they were Democrats.
"People say they won't vote for him because he's black, but you know, he's half white," said Louise Conrad, 62, a retired factory worker who said she voted for Obama. "Republicans don't care about anybody but themselves. The Democrats help out with social programs. The poor keep on getting poorer. I don't know any rich people."
But Robert Naslanic, 43, a truck driver in a hooded sweatshirt and jean jacket, said he voted for Obama. "I wouldn't care if he's green, with the way the economy is going," he said. "When the last Democrat was in office, I had health insurance. Now I can't afford it."
"I don't trust him," Mary Salamone, 86, said of Obama. She said that for the first time in her life she voted for a Republican for president.
Washington Post editors
November 4, 2008; 1:02 PM ET
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