RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Scott Browns stunning upset in Massachusetts is a measure of the political difficulties facing President Obama. Its also a far cry from two years ago, when Mr. Obama rode into office by winning reliably Republican states such as Indiana.
NPRs Don Gonyea covered the campaign, and he returned to Indiana to see how President Obama is doing there now.
DON GONYEA: The sign in front of Zinszer's Bakery in Anderson, Indiana, offers a lure to fans of the Indianapolis Colts as the team makes a bid for another Super Bowl appearance.
Ms. RACHEL MURDOCK (Chief Baker, Zinszer's Bakery): We have our iced, homemade, hand-decorated Colts football cookies and helmets. The smiley faces are for after the Colts win.
GONYEA: That's Rachel Murdock, the chief baker at the shop. She voted for President Obama. She's a Democrat. She says she has no complaints for the president.
Ms. MURDOCK: He inherited an economy in a complete downturn, two wars that just - our troops should already have been pulled home from. I feel it's going to take him a little bit more time to get everything untangled from what they had thrown at him.
GONYEA: The city of Anderson is in Madison County, right in the state's midsection. It once boasted 25,000 General Motors manufacturing jobs. It was a company town. But over the past three decades, they've all disappeared - every one of them.
Ms. MURDOCK: Hi, Don.
Mr. DON WILLIAMS: Hi, how you doing?
GONYEA: Customers pop into the bakery. Sixty-one-year-old Don Williams has been laid off from two jobs in the past two years. His story is not unusual. He lost his house and his pension. Now, he delivers auto parts. His income has been cut in half.
He voted for President Obama and says he still backs him, but he does have one gripe, about the Wall Street bailout.
Mr. WILLIAMS: Give us the money instead of giving it to the banks, where they won't loan the money out to you, or the mortgage companies, where they won't loan it out to you, and let us spend it. Because if they would've given me money, I could have paid my house off and saved everything.
GONYEA: The economic worries that helped turned this red state blue are now working against the president. A new Indiana poll puts Mr. Obama's approval rating at 44 percent. Fifty-three percent disapprove.
Governor MITCH DANIELS (Republican, Indiana): Substantively, I think he's rubbed Hoosiers the wrong way on multiple fronts.
GONYEA: Mitch Daniels is the state's Republican governor.
Gov. DANIELS: Clearly, the deficits and the apparent reckless disregard for spending levels doesn't fit the way people here want to see their government conducted.
GONYEA: Back in Anderson one night last week, a group of about 20 local businesspeople gathered for their regular networking meeting.
There are Republicans, Democrats and independents here. Republican Chuck Kile, the owner of a local Skyline Chili restaurant, says President Obama's policies are bad for business. He says he never approved of the job the president is doing. Health care is the issue that angers him the most. Kile says he has attended anti-Obama rallies organized by the Tea Party movement.
Mr. CHUCK KILE (Owner, Skyline Chili Restaurant): I kind of wonder if Mr. Obama and some of the other people that are in the White House and the Congress, I wonder if they could just go through the process of what we have to do every week to make a payroll for 20 people. I don't think they've got a clue of how that happens.
GONYEA: But others here who did not vote for Mr. Obama were more generous, at least offering goodwill and hope for the new president. DeWayne Landwehr runs a business resource center in Anderson.
Mr. DEWAYNE LANDWEHR (Manager, Business Resource Center): When Obama won, I decided at that point, I want to give this guy a try. I want this guy to succeed. So I was ready and open. I said OK, let's see what you got. Let's see what you're going to do for the country.
GONYEA: But now, Landwehr says he's very disappointed.
Mr. LANDWEHR: Yeah, I think there is a lot of buyer's remorse.
GONYEA: It's not hard to find anger and frustration when you talk to people in Indiana. But even in these uncertain times, it's not difficult to find patience, either.
Much of the Midwest took an economic hit years before the current national downturn. People here tell you they know there's no quick fix and absent an election like the one held in Massachusetts yesterday, the buyer's remorse Mr. Landwehr talks about has nowhere to go right now.
Don Gonyea, NPR News.
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