What Concerns Voters Most

Newspaper editors John Kanelis of the Amarillo Globe-News in Texas and Kevin Riley of the Dayton Daily News update the election as it takes shape in their communities.

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

To find out what's going on in some communities as we near the end of this election cycle, we've called the editors of two newspapers. We spoke with them during the primaries. So, let me welcome back John Kanelis, editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News in Texas. Welcome back, John.

Mr. JOHN KANELIS (Editorial Page Editor, Amarillo Globe-News): Thanks, Liane.

HANSEN: And Kevin Riley, editor of the Dayton Daily News in Ohio. Welcome back to you, Kevin.

Mr. KEVIN RILEY (Editor, Dayton Daily News): Good morning and greetings from the home state of Joe the Plumber.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Well, Kevin that's all the more reason to start with you because there has been a blitz going on in Ohio. Barack Obama and Sarah Palin are scheduled to make their way through the state today. Is this having any effect on the voters?

Mr. RILEY: Well, I think it is. I mean, obviously, Ohioans are getting a lot of attention and getting a lot of information to try to make up their minds. And it's certainly crowding the television airwaves with advertising. I think we all sort of miss the time when most TV commercials were a guy yelling at us to buy carpet.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: You've also done some polls, if I'm not mistaken, in your paper, and you had a big article about newly-registered voters. So what's going on in the region that your paper covers?

Mr. RILEY: Well, I think that this race feels very close. I think that's what our polling is telling us. In terms of the registered voters, more than 800,000 new voters are registered in Ohio since the last presidential election, and about 60 percent of those registered voters are in counties that John Kerry won in that election. So it seems like the news on the registered voters would favor Senator Obama.

HANSEN: Mm hmm. And what are polls showing about McCain in the rest of the state or at least in southwest Ohio?

Mr. RILEY: McCain is stronger in the southern half of the state. There's a lot of suburban and rural Ohio that favors John McCain, and that's the part of the state that President Bush won. And don't forget, in the primary, Hillary Clinton beat Senator Obama, and she beat him by winning in those parts of the state.

HANSEN: John Kanelis, how about Amarillo, Texas? What are the polls showing there?

Mr. KANELIS: Well, the panhandle of Texas and Texas in general, we are the anti-battleground state. There is no fight. McCain is going to probably carry Texas with a double digit win. We have had some indications, however, during the voter registration period in Potter County of significant new voter registration and had a Republican county elections official tell me that it was her strong belief that those new registrants were young voters who were more than likely going to vote Democratic in the fall.

HANSEN: Is there early voting in Amarillo?

Mr. KANELIS: Yes. We've had significant increase in early voting. Randall County, which is the next county south from Potter County, roughly 30 percent of the total registered population has voted. Traffic has been brisk, and we are setting records.

HANSEN: Kevin, let's go back. If you can remember long ago to the primaries, we talked to you, and you actually said the economy was the biggest issue in your region then. And since then, the economy has gotten much worse. How has that affected the voters in the Dayton area?

Mr. RILEY: Well, I think that the economy remains the top issue, as it was during the primary, and for Ohioans, the news just keeps getting worse. In the Dayton region, for example, the airfreight company DHL has closed its major hub in southwest Ohio and put as many as 8,000 people out of work. General Motors has announced that it will close its final plant in the Dayton area two days before Christmas, putting another couple of thousand people out of work.

HANSEN: John, when we spoke about the Amarillo area last time, you said immigration was a much bigger issue than the economy. Have things changed?

Mr. KANELIS: I would say that the economy in Amarillo has become much more of a focus on people's minds. We have not suffered the kinds of plant closures that have befallen folks in Dayton. However, we sit on Interstate 40, and the skyrocketing energy prices, I think, have had a fairly significant impact on our service industry. But all in all, I don't think that the economy necessarily is going to drive this election for voters in our region.

HANSEN: John Kanelis is editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News in Texas. Kevin Riley is editor of the Dayton Daily News. Thank you both for your time.

Mr. RILEY: Thank you.

Mr. KANELIS: Thanks, Liane.

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