On the road with the NYT

Los Angeles bureau chief for the New York Times Jennifer Steinhauer and L.A.-based staff photographer Monica Almeida have completed one of those cross-country road trips to gauge voter sentiment. It's been a 3,000-mile multimedia exercise from the Golden Gate Bridge to the George Washington Bridge, mostly along Interstate 80, with video reports, blog entries, photo slide shows and stories in the paper. Here's Steinhauer's road food report, and her conclusions from the wrap-up piece. Excerpt:

While elections often turn on ideas, this one might also be swayed by a paralyzing fear of the other guy. In interview after interview in a 12-state tour from California to New York that ended this week, many backers of Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain seemed utterly convinced that an America under the tutelage of the other ticket would send the nation unbearably toward a precipice....

There were, of course, pressing issues many voters wanted to discuss. Over the course of two weeks, a majority of those interviewed cited the economy as the crucial issue that would influence their vote next month. Grace notes were health care, national security and occasionally very place-specific concerns, like urban crime, factory job losses and underperforming schools.

But the backdrop to all of that was something far more personal, as voters reacted openly and viscerally to Mr. McCain, the 72-year-old Republican war hero, yoked to one of the least popular presidents in modern times, and Mr. Obama, the unflappable and somewhat inscrutable Democrat from Chicago who would be the country’s first black president.

In case you missed it, Almeida and some of her Los Angeles photos were featured this month at Native Intelligence.

Photo: Steinhauer in screen grab of NYT video

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