Usually, when it comes to campaign coverage, mainstream media ponies up a few thousand dollars, hops on the candidate’s plane and gets shuttled from stop to stop, interacting with pre-screened supporters and and voters commonly referred to as “the base.” Or the mainstream media conducts random-sample polls, with a series of predetermined questions, and tells you the results.

But we all know those folks represent a tiny fraction of Americans. It’s time to go off script.

It’s not the political elites who decide an election, nor is it the already-committed voters who show up for events, respond to pollsters or get featured in a lot of media coverage. Instead, elections are determined by the independent voters, the occasional voters and the swing state voters. These voters are less interested in the play-by-play of campaigns and more interested in what, if anything, the election will mean for their daily lives. We think it’s time they had a voice, too.

Raw Story’s executive editor Megan Carpentier will spend the week before Super Tuesday talking to people in economically disadvantaged areas that swung for Obama in 2008 and have looked more conservative ever since, including two states (Ohio and Virginia) that will be voting for a Republican candidate on Super Tuesday. She’ll start in Schenectady, NY — the former headquarters of General Electric, which is headed by Jeffrey Immelt, Obama’s Jobs Council chair and noted outsourcer. Then she’ll stop in Utica, NY; Binghamton, NY; Scranton, PA; Wilkes Barre, PA; Altoona, Pa; Pittsburgh, PA; Youngstown, OH; Akron, OH; Cleveland, OH; Columbus, OH; Parkersburg, WV; Charleston, WV; Blacksburg, VA; Roanoke, VA; Charlottsville, VA; Richmond, VA; Norfolk, VA; and the northern Virginia suburbs. Along the way, she’ll talk to local mayors, community organizations, union members, people on the street, tea party members and anyone else who wants to bend her ear. She’ll be reporting the conversation that’s actually going on in America instead of the ones the campaigns want to have.

If you’re on her route (or even just off it) and are interested in participating, shoot her an email before February 28. She starts with the morning shift on February 29th.

[Illustration by Hal Robins, all rights reserved.]

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