Editor’s note: Caroline King is a registered Republican who has lived in Orlando, Florida, for more than 12 years. She voted for John McCain in 2008 and plans to vote for Mitt Romney this year.
HLN: Are you getting bombarded with political ads on TV, radio or via mail -- and if so, how do you deal with it?
Caroline King: I think there are way too many negative ads that are not focused on what’s truly important to a lot of us living in central Florida. Even on Pandora Radio, there are ads for candidates. What I’m hearing are ways to focus on uneducated voters who will vote emotionally and on a single topic, like women’s issues or immigration only, as opposed to the whole picture. As a more educated voter, that’s concerning. So I tune the ads out completely. I turn on the TV to get my news, and when the ads come on, I switch the channel.
HLN: What are the most important issues to your state?
CK: The thing about Florida is people are generally happy and outgoing here. But there’s such a sense of the economic downturn really hitting everybody. People are changing the way they buy, and they’re a lot more vocal about not being able to do certain things. So the economy is a major issue in what I’m seeing, across the board for Democrats, Republicans and independents. The other issues that always come up in politics is education and our failing schools.
HLN: How are people talking about politics right now: Is it dominating the conversations or do people try to avoid it?
CK: This is the first election that I’ve voted in where people are very passionate about their choice for president. If they’ve decided, they’re incredibly passionate about why they’re making that choice. I’ve seen more chatter among friends who are normally quiet about their choice because they’re worried about the direction of the country. There’s a clear difference in the two candidates’ vision for America, and it’s resonating. There are more lawn signs that I’ve ever seen and people outside of our churches passing out material for specific candidate. On top of that, we’ve had a lot of visits from candidates and first ladies.
HLN: Do you think this last-minute, frantic campaigning will change people’s vote?
CK: No. I do think there are still some undecided voters who are wary of changing course — they’re nervous. They feel they need to take a different direction but are nervous to throw their weight — their vote — behind a candidate. And I don’t think they’re getting swayed by the negative ads or phone calls.
HLN: Do you feel your vote is more important than that of many other Americans? What is it like to know that your vote carries more weight?
CK: Everyone is very aware that we live in a swing state, and it’s been like that for the last three presidential elections. I think that’s why my friends are getting so passionate about their vote this year. They’re more vocal and opinionated than ever, maybe in an attempt to persuade their friends to vote their way. I’ve lived in three different states, and I’ve always felt my vote has been incredibly important. It’s a privilege to vote in this country. I’d never take that for granted, even if I didn’t live in a swing state.