We discussed press coverage of the election. “I have almost stopped listening to the political ads and the stories on PBS. I turn it off and tune it out. I’m not going to be influenced by them. I think most people feel that way.” As I put my notebook away to leave, Culbert had a comment about Mitt Romney. “He’s out of touch with the difficulties and the responsibilities so many Americans have to face,” Culbert said.

The dad

One man I met—he was minding his toddler son—declined to give his name. He is 36 and works in higher education. We spoke quickly and, like Culbert, he has made up his mind: “I’m an Independent,” he said. “And I will likely vote Democratic.”

He voted for Obama in the last election. What were the deciding issues for him? “The Democrats are better on social issues, like gay marriage,” he said. “That should be a non-issue.”

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Word on the street in Massachusetts: Divided

The word on the street in Pennsylvania: Disillusioned

The word on the street in Missouri: Apprehensive

Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.