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Oh, to live in a swing state

Leigh Duvall-Parks and daughter Delaney wait to get into an Obama rally in Woodbridge, Virginia.

Dara Fox volunteers for the Romney campaign.

Keith Lucas is tired of living in campaign land.

The swing states are awash in money this campaign season. You see it everywhere. In the many campaign ads on the local TV stations. The dozens of campaign offices set up across the state.  Phone banks. Canvassers knocking on doors.

What’s it like to live in campaign land? The first thing you notice is you keep tripping over the presidential nominees. Or their running mates. Or families. They’re all swarming the state. 

Right now I’m stuck in traffic. It’s not rush hour. It’s a secret service slowdown. President Obama is holding a rally in a baseball stadium in Woodbridge, Virginia.  A long line of people snakes toward the entrance. Among them: graphic designer Leigh Duvall-Parks.  She’s wearing a navy blue Obama tee shirt and button.  In fact, she’s worn an Obama tee shirt almost every day for a year. 

"I have one that says BO-08, Ba-rock-n-roll," she says. "I have another one that just says making history, Obama, with his picture on it."

At this point, Duvall-Parks has to move on. And so do I. 

It’s time to visit some Romney-held territory in campaign land. I pull up to a temporary Romney campaign office. In an upscale strip mall.  Here I meet Dara Fox.  She's a stay-at-home mom. Her navy blue tee shirt says Mitt Romney For President. She’s at the Romney office every week calling voters.  She’s worn Romney paraphenalia every day for about three months.  She calls herself a walking billboard. 

"I went into T-mobile the other day and the guy said, 'oh, why are you supporting Romney?' And I mentioned Romney’s five-point plan," Fox says.

Yep, here in campaign land your neighbors have memorized their guy's policy points.  But now, it’s the end of the day.  Time for a cold one. I head to Manassas and Mackey’s Pub.  But - no escape here.  Cable news is on one of the TVs above the bar.  Political ads march across the screen. 

All told, the campaigns and outside groups have spent at least $44 million on TV commercials here. Keith Lucas is sitting at the bar.  He says some of his friends are fed up.  And voting for a third party candidate. 

"I know several people who are doing that," Lucas says. "They don’t like either one of them now.  Because the ads have turned them off that bad."

Lucas says he wishes it could all be over tomorrow.   Living in campaign land is getting really old. 

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

Leigh Duvall-Parks and daughter Delaney wait to get into an Obama rally in Woodbridge, Virginia.

Dara Fox volunteers for the Romney campaign.

Keith Lucas is tired of living in campaign land.

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Presidential elections don't have to be this way.

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. There would no longer be a handful of 'battleground' states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 80% of the states that now are just 'spectators' and ignored after the conventions.

When the bill is enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes– enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538), all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC.

The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for President. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.

In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls in closely divided Battleground states: CO – 68%, FL – 78%, IA 75%, MI – 73%, MO – 70%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM– 76%, NC – 74%, OH – 70%, PA – 78%, VA – 74%, and WI – 71%; in Small states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK – 70%, DC – 76%, DE – 75%, ID – 77%, ME – 77%, MT – 72%, NE 74%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM – 76%, OK – 81%, RI – 74%, SD – 71%, UT – 70%, VT – 75%, WV – 81%, and WY – 69%; in Southern and Border states: AR – 80%,, KY- 80%, MS – 77%, MO – 70%, NC – 74%, OK – 81%, SC – 71%, TN – 83%, VA – 74%, and WV – 81%; and in other states polled: AZ – 67%, CA – 70%, CT – 74%, MA – 73%, MN – 75%, NY – 79%, OR – 76%, and WA – 77%. Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should win.

The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 states. The bill has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions possessing 132 electoral votes - 49% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

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